Sunday, 11 May 2014

May Fest 2014 in Pictures (Part 1)

May Fest is the University of Nottingham's annual open day for the local community. It is an awesome event, with plenty to interest adults and children alike. Much like the Science Museum in London, there is simply so much stuff going on that you cannot see it all in the one day!

As has often been the case, NSB visited the event with No1 and No3 Sons. The latter described the event afterwards with the single word "Indescribable!"

May Fest 2014 - What an event!

Incidentally, you can click on the following links to read NSBs reports on the 2013
and 2012 May Fests - they are certainly worth looking at as quite a few of the exhibitors are May Fest stalwarts and this 2014 report is focussed on things that were new to NSB:

One of the first things that attracted No3 Son was the "Little Bits" components that could be joined together to quickly make circuits, a bit like Raspberry Pi for electronics.

Click together "power sources", "inputs" and "outputs" to make citcuits !

While NSB and No1 son had a bash an naming different types of brassicas. NSB asked the researchers what the "heart" in a cauliflower was and was amazed to learn that it was a set of mutant flower heads (although a few flowers were still produced to allow the plant to reproduce). Apparantly, this mutation ocurred sometime in the last few hundred years, so William the Conquerer could not ever have had the pleasure of eating dished like "Cauliflower Cheese" or, indeed, "Keema Ghobi".

Many types of brassicas on display - can you guess their names?

The researchers also explained that the plant Aradopsis is used a lot in plant research, and one of its mutations is similar to that shown in the hearts of cauliflowers. You can read more about this here.

It turns out that the The Nottingham Arabidopsis Stock Centre (NASC), based at the Sutton Bonington Campus, provides seed and information resources to the International Arabidopsis Genome Project and the wider research community!

Arabidopsis - a useful plant in research

Something else that NSB thought was pretty cool was a display allowing children (and the occasional adult!) to make circuits using conductive ink "wires". NSB went all-out and made a circuit with a switch!

NSB make a circuit with a switch and everything!
(love the conductive ink "wires")

Oculus Rift. If you know what that means, then you know what that means! No1 Son was very impressed. NSB needed to use it sitting down....

Oculus Rift - the future, here today!

Interesting to talk to researchers about immunisation, and learnt that drugs like "Tamiflu" are "anti-virals" which are a different thing entirely.

Explaining immunisation

May Fest also has a "Community Section", where NSB spent some time talking about Foodbanks and how people could challenge local councils etc on the issues that they were having to deal with.

The Community section of May Fest

This made NSB chuckle....

Academics have their own jokes...

Whilst talking to the reserchers who were investigating the characteristics of proteins, found out that anyone can download protein structures from the "Protein Data Bank" and then visualise them using the Pymol sofware. Wow!

Proteins are awesome!

One of the most entrancing displays was this set of pendulums and lights in the Physics building. As the lenghts of the different strings were known, the students knew in advance where each light would be at any particualar time. They had programmed the lights to glow in different ways depending in which pendulums were in synch. After two minutes, the pendulums were all in in phase again and the display could be restarted.

NSB wonders whether he could program something similar in Excel......

Very clever stuff involving pendulums and lights !

Worth mentioning that there were whole sections of the event, especially those related to history and the social sciences, that NSB didn't get the chance to visit - there is simply too much stuff for one day!

Click here for Part 2 to read about the May Fest talks that NSB and co attended...


  1. No 3 son was clearly wrong

  2. Tom, the evidence suggests you have a point !