BIG e-news: Autumn 2016 edition - Issue 37

Welcome back to a new academic year! Many of you will have had your first taste of BIG at the BIG Event in Belfast in July and we saw a huge growth in attendance from first timers. We were able to award bursaries to eight delegates this year and who best to review the event than them.  

Sarah ViningAdministrator

BIG Event 2016: Reviews from our Bursary Winners

Zoe Griffiths, Royal Institution:

At the Mingle is where it begins

I meet you all in a super-speed way

BIG members do a plethora of things

And travel from all corners of the UK


Everyone brings something small

To make us talk and think

I definitely learn from them all

I like best the one about making things sink


Mainly because the bottle and sand

Almost didn’t make the flight

Later I learn what else was not banned

Thanks Toby, demo of the night!


In Google images type ‘scientist’

Look at those ranked highest

How many women make this list?

How can we combat gender bias?


The word ‘smart’ is associated with boys

Men beat women to the job, despite CVs identical to the letter

We discuss ‘man up’ and gendered toys

Because with awareness, things can only get better


By reading Haikus with Sean  

With comic timing and dramatic style

An idea for a workshop is born

Drama in maths is something to trial


James Soper gives a lesson from TED

If you can’t say it in 18 minutes

Then should it be said?

Edit til it fits


Is your through-line clear?

Is your idea truly new?

Is it interesting to hear?

Factual? Could it be you?


W5 is awesome to explore 

Discovery and wonder with each exhibition 

I think about moments in the tug of war

And become an expert in face recognition 


Evaluation - what do I want to know?

What is the best way to find that out?

Kids could write questions when they go

And using Plickers is a really great shout


Finally, 4pm Thursday arrives

Kids are told to wait

Whilst adults climb, and climb  

Skills-sharing is great!


Also I can’t ignore the evening events

Good pubs, ales and a wonderful final dinner

Coupled with welcoming people

Makes this conference a winner


Seriously, BIG gave me the chance to explore and digest

This space called science communication

Its crucial we celebrate and share what we do best

Lets continue the conversation.


Sacha Coward, National Maritime Museum: "I spent a fantastic 3 days deepening my knowledge of STEM learning across the sector, meeting some incredible likeminded individuals. Oh… and also it was a lot of fun! At the National Maritime Museum we have a huge collection of objects and artefacts that speak strongly to STEM learning; from ship plans to engines, turbines and navigational equipment. Also we are just down the hill from the Royal Observatory one of the leading sites for public astronomy and planetary science in the UK. Despite this we have had a tradition of approaching our audiences with a strong visual arts bias. I realised that there was a lot of room to move beyond arts and crafts to a more integrated STEAM approach that matches our collections and engages with wider audiences much more successfully. I’m pleased to say I got exactly what I was looking for out of the experience! All the sessions I attended were fun and engaging but my favourite two were on gender bias in the sciences and the talk on what can be learn from TED talks. In the session on bias I had a challenging moment of self-discovery when I noticed that the men in the room, myself included, were repeatedly taking over the conversation! The session on TED talks gave me a lot of ideas on how to present sessions so that they successfully ‘rebuild an idea in someone else’s head’. I feel part of an inspired and inspiring community and I have asked for the opportunity to present at the next BIG Event! 

Thomas Wild: "When I arrived I quickly realised that everyone shares the same passion for delivery of fun science but It was when I started speaking to people at the ‘speed dating’ that it truly hit me just how wide a range of expertise BIG brings together. We all try to make science fun and accessible but we all do it in our own way, with our own special twist. This was reflected in the range of sessions each day, creating several had decisions through the week. On Wednesday I was exploring the amazing W5 centre, speed-dating and thinking about using STEM activities to address real global problems. Thursday saw me learning new presentation techniques from TEDx talks and feeling like a kid again as I watched the Air-mazing show, before setting up my chemistry cocktails for the big demo. The BIG demo was incredibly nerve-wracking, but very rewarding. My thanks go out to all the BIG members who formed one of the most supportive audiences I have even stood in front of. Had I known that the ‘Demo Direction’ session on Friday would be quite so active I may have thought twice about signing up at 9am the morning after the event dinner.  But in all seriousness, the session really gave me a lot of new elements to think about. From creating focus and drawing the audience’s attention on stage, to the added value an extra pair of eyes can bring when developing a show. After a dramatic morning I learnt new techniques retain control in a chaotic hands on event before getting to finally play with dry-ice in the ‘Science of Dragon Show’.


The ‘Ask for Evidence’ Campaign: Spread the word! 

Danae R. Dodge

As I’m sure many of you know misreporting of stories and sensationalism often distorts the truth, which we are constantly working against. But apart from simply correcting claims by telling the public the truth, the question remains what else can be done? One answer to this is to get the public to think objectively to enable them to ask for evidence on any claim that they see. This is the goal behind the campaign Ask for Evidence run by the London based science charity Sense about Science.  

The idea behind this campaign is to help people ask for evidence from companies, politicians and commentators. Doing so is important because it makes these authorities accountable for the claims they make by championing those who provide reliable evidence and penalising those who don’t. But this isn’t always easy as questioning authority is not always appreciated. This campaign provides online tools to guide the public through the process of requesting evidence, understanding it and also getting additional help from scientists already on the Sense about Science network.

As one of the ambassadors for this campaign, it is my job to go around the UK talking to the public telling them this, why inquiring for information is important and how to log a claim online. I am therefore seeking opportunities to give this talk so if you are running a science communication event at a fair/festival, institute, university, school or a Café Scientifique local to you, please do get in touch with me on Twitter @DanaeDodge or LinkedIn.

Conversely, if  you are not hosting any events but still want to show your support, then do please share the message on your networks about this campaign, why asking for evidence matters and sign up to Sense about Science to join the network. It is by spreading this message calling for critique of claims that will make the public receptive to scientific misinformation.


Culture Shock 

Anna Perman

Last year, the BSA surveyed science communicators about their needs. You said you wanted more opportunities to encounter ideas and people from other sectors, particularly the arts.

So we've come up with a new type of event: Culture Shock. We wanted to capture the highs and lows of working with other sectors, and culture shock, a syndrome that occurs when you move into an unfamiliar environment, seemed like the ideal lens to look at this through.

For each culture shock, we'll partner with an organisation from another sector, bringing their audiences together with science communicators. For the first event in London on November 17, it's science and the arts, with Fun Palaces.

Talks will be in themed sessions that follow the four stages of culture shock. First, the exciting opportunities in the Honeymoon stage, then the lows of Anxiety. Journalist and psychotherapist Philippa Perry will be one of our 'Anxiety' speakers, and I’m really excited to hear her thoughts!

In Adjustment  - the 'Rocky training montage' stage - speakers will talk about how they overcome these difficulties.

Finally, in Assimilation, we’ll consider how to move freely in different sectors, and hopefully we’ll all bond through a group performance of the Periodic Table song, led by opera singer Sani Muliaumaseali'i.

We hope attendees come away with new connections and ideas, which could lead to everything from a different perspective on their work, to innovative projects and collaborations.

Please do come and join us – early bird tickets are £80. And if you can suggest an organisation we should partner with for Chapter 2, be they from sport, heritage, politics, or any sector, then send your ideas to cultureshock@britishscienceassociation.org.


 Active Together for Dementia

 Clare Havard

 Dementia can be a barrier to everyday  activities from making breakfast to sequence  dancing. It can severely impact someone’s  health, confidence and social activities. That’s  why Active Together for Dementia, a new pilot  project, is designed to increase people’s  wellbeing by enabling them to continue  pursuing their passions.

 The number of people with dementia nationally is predicted to rise from 850,000 to over one million by 2025, so Active Together is a timely initiative. Using an asset-based approach, it matches a volunteer buddy and someone with dementia based on their shared interests. Together they then swim, cook, garden, walk, play golf, go to art classes or dance – whatever the person with dementia wants to do, but can’t on their own.

By enabling the continuation of personal interests, and increasing physical and social activities, the project aims to:

  • enhance the health and wellbeing of people with dementia;
  • increase their confidence to get out and maintain their social interests;
  • maintain their independence and reduce potential isolation by keeping up activities and friendships;
  • give people living with dementia the opportunity to establish a long-term relationship with a volunteer buddy.

Active Together, alongside other local dementia services, works to provide practical support and help make Bristol a more dementia-friendly city. It draws on lessons learned from Volunteer Bristol’s Supported Volunteering for People with Dementia research project (2014-15) and Bath University’s ACE (Active, Connected, Engaged) project (2013-14).

Active Together will increase the physical activity and social engagement of a person with dementia at a time when their world is in danger of shrinking. It’s also a great opportunity for volunteers as they’ll be doing something they already enjoy, with the added bonus of knowing their ‘buddy’ couldn’t do it without them.

Active Together aims to promote dementia inclusivity and break down barriers to accessing services for people living with dementia. If you’re interested in finding out more about the project, the referral process, or if you’d like to volunteer, please get in touch.


Science on Stage UK – the search is on

Ellie Chambers, Royal Society

With the Science on Stage festival in Hungary less than a year away, the search is on for the next group of inspirational teachers and technicians to become the 2017 UK delegation.

This is a rare opportunity for teachers and technicians at all levels of 5-19 formal education to present their best science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) teaching methods and activities, representing their school or college at an international level. The festival takes place every two years in a different host city, and lasts for four jam-packed days across the week and weekend in July.

Chosen UK delegates will travel to Hungary to share their projects via a poster presentation alongside hundreds of other teachers from 25 countries across Europe and the world. They will have the opportunity to discover new techniques and ideas, bringing the best practice in teaching from across Europe back to their classroom.

 “Science on Stage was the most inspirational CPD event I have ever taken part in, as I came away with a myriad of project ideas, strategies and resources to ensure the success of my next project” –2015 UK delegate.

Previous UK delegate presentations have covered such areas as challenging gender stereotypes in science, learning themed around human space flight and developing creative science in the outdoor classroom. This year anything entered should link to one of the six guiding themes for the festival, Science for the Youngest, Science and our Environment, ICT in Science Education, Inclusive Science, Cooperation for Science teaching and Low-cost Science.

Applications close on 12 October 2016, so if you work with teachers or technicians that you think would be perfect to represent the UK and the best STEM education ideas in the country, please encourage them to visit the website for eligibility rules, useful templates and the full online application form.


‘Taking it to the streets’; mainstreaming research

Tanya Wilkins, ARCC Network

As science communicators, sometimes the best strategy to deliver a message is to make sure the audience gets it ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’.  Here at the ARCC knowledge exchange network, we are doing just that by taking our researchers to Ecobuild 2017, the UK’s largest industry event dedicated to creating a more sustainable built environment. 

In working with Ecobuild organisers, we will deliver a show floor feature full of future materials and processes, helping to link professionals with cutting-edge research on sustainable design and building. 

The adaptation and resilience research portfolio, funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), includes leading research in the areas of future materials; innovative, low-carbon, sustainable, re-used, and biotic.  We want to share this with industry, to help start more conversations with professionals so that they know what is going on in the research arena, and how they can work with universities to move towards a more adapted and resilient future.

The communication lessons here have been really valuable for our network, in building relationships with relevant stakeholders, and in taking bold steps to support the interaction between research and industry. 

We hope to achieve meaningful impact for the research through our coordinated presence at Ecobuild.

The ARCC knowledge exchange network is funded by EPSRC and has a broad remit to bring together research, and the policy and practice communities in the built environment and infrastructure sectors. We promote co-operative working between practitioners and academics, and particularly help researchers to share research knowledge more widely in ways that industry can use.

For more information, please visit the website.

  

Working with Sir Harry Kroto FRS

Jonathan Hare

Earlier this year Harry Kroto FRS, Nobel Prize winner and discoverer of the C60 molecule, Buckminsterfullerene, died. He was my PhD supervisor, mentor and friend. In August this year we held a 'celebration day' for Harry at Sussex University. People from all over the world attended.

During the time we worked together whenever we got a strange or unexpected research result, rather than be crestfallen or put-off he would often say 'interesting!' and get quite excited. This is because he was rather like a detective, he was motivated and inspired to get to the heart of a mystery; he wanted to be able to explain unexplained phenomena.

Science to him was about pursuing things you don't quite understand in the hope that better understanding would follow. He firmly believed that in the long run this attitude would benefit humanity. I wish more funding and educational initiatives were based on this type of thinking. Harry was one of those energetic inspiring characters who was able to find fascinating and interesting things pretty much wherever he looked. Even going for a coffee break with him would often involve discussing some interesting phenomena, exploring a philosophical idea or involve taking a second look at something I thought I already understood!

For example we are all told at school that graphite is a good lubricant. It's used extensively in car oil to help maintain the smooth movement of parts. But as Harry pointed out the interesting thing about graphite is that if you try to use it in a vacuum, as NASA found in space, the material is anything but lubricating. It appears that graphite's famous lubricating properties are partly due to the 'junk' (water, air etc.) trapped between the sheets or planes of atoms which gets drawn out in a vacuum.

I worked with Harry developing the C60 carbon arc production technique which kick-started a new area of nanotechnology. We used kilowatts of electricity (from a welding power supply you might find in a garage) to vaporise carbon rods to produce a fluffy soot-like material 5-10% of which was C60 and other fullerene materials (e.g. nanotubes and large carbon particles).

In 1996 Sir Harry, Richard Smalley and Bob Curl received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of the fullerenes. I was fortunate to go along to the ceremony in Stockholm and see my 'boss' get the big prize! It was a fantastic three days of parties, receptions and science - happy memories I will treasure.

Harry and I developed the 'Buckyball' workshop, where children, teenagers or in fact anyone at all can get a glimpse of the magic of discovery by building their own C60 molecule using a molecular model kit. In the process we explore space, symmetry and structures found throughout the universe. We gave 100's of workshops both together as a 'double act' and on our own. It was great fun working with Harry and helping others experience something of the scientific process and I continue to spread the Buckyball 'news' through my own science workshops!


SPIN SHOWCASE – October 26, 2016

Sally Stevens, Institute for Environmental Analytics

 SPIN undergraduates aiming for careers in the  space sector will showcase their summer  placements in space-related industries as part  of the high profile Reinventing Space  Conference.

 Space Placements in Industry (SPIN) is an  industry initiative to match enthusiastic and  highly qualified undergraduates with space  sector companies to work on specific projects  for at least eight weeks during their summer  vacation.

 Through SPIN, the sector is ensuring that the  brightest and best students are encouraged to  focus their attention on space for their careers. The SPIN showcase is an excellent opportunity for businesses and organisations to find out how placements work for the hosts and the undergraduates, what funding is available, which projects are suitable and the benefits to the hosts.

Reinventing Space runs from October 24-27 at the Royal Society, London, and the SPIN Showcase takes place on Wednesday, October 26. It is free for everyone attending the conference that day, with undergraduates’ presentations taking place from 9am. The full SPIN Showcase programme is here (see bottom of the page).

Each undergraduate (SPINtern) will deliver a two-minute summary of their placement project and the skills they are learning. They will also be available throughout the morning to discuss their Project Posters which will be on display.

In the afternoon there will be a career event supported by the Space Generation Advisory Council and UKSEDS – the UK student space society - with an Employer Panel Discussion Q&A and a Speed Mentoring Session delivered by a range of employers. The keynote speech will be given by Rick Tumlinson, of the New Worlds Institute.

SPIN is an industry initiative supported by the Institute for Environmental Analytics (IEA), University of Reading, UK Space Agency and Satellite Applications Catapult. The programme is managed by Kathie Bowden, UK National Space Skills and Career Development Manager who is based within the IEA.

Bowden said: “Each undergraduate will deliver a two-minute elevator pitch describing the placement and the skills they have developed this summer, and will then present a poster they have produced with the support of their host.  Whilst the pitches are to the SPIN community, the Poster Sessions are open to all attendees at the conference and present a fantastic opportunity for all SPINterns to sell their abilities and achievements to a broad employer community. The posters will be on display through all the breaks and lunchtime.”

Reinventing Space (RISpace) is a conference and exhibition focusing on low cost access to space, bringing together industry, agency, government and financiers. For more visit http://rispace.org/

Subject to certain criteria, SPIN placements can be subsidised for host companies. Find out more in time to host a summer 2017 SPIN placement, by emailing.


ChemGolf

Tim Wiles, Centre for Doctoral Training in Theory and Modelling in Chemical Sciences (TMCS)

Have you ever struggled getting your head around Chemistry? Or thought that Chemistry needs to involve mixing smelly things in a lab?

In June 2015, ChemGolf was born. ChemGolf is a video game that introduces complex concepts in Chemistry (such as Reaction Kinetics) using a virtual reality golf course.

One year later, and ChemGolf is almost ready for release.  The aim of ChemGolf is to inspire the next generation of Theoretical Chemists and Computational Chemists: Chemists who do no experiments, but nevertheless make world-changing discoveries.

In ChemGolf, you play the role of a chemist trying to initiate a chemical reaction. You (the golf ball) start at the reactant molecule. From here, your aim is to move across the Potential Energy Surface, over the barrier, and arrive at the product molecule.

To do this, you will need to use all the tools at your disposal: Be that an increase in temperature, a laser, or a catalyst.

Interested? Follow our progress on Twitter.


Bridge organizations and CEPs

Rick Hall, Ignite!

BIG colleagues and all who subscribe to the BSA commitment to making science a fundamental part of culture and society… I have a genuinely open couple of questions for you.  

Please put up your hands if you know who your local Bridge organization is.  And keep your hands up if you know what CEP stands for. Excellent, that’s more than half of you.  Now for those still a little unsure or completely in the dark, may I crave five minutes to explain the hint of patronizing sarcasm in my tone?

I was in conversation the other day with a large institution interested in developing informal approaches to STEM learning and public engagement, and made an offer to share evidence and outcomes of programmes that we are developing in Nottingham with funding from, among others, the Big Lottery and Children in Need.  This is not the first time that we (Ignite!) have raised funds from ‘outside the system’ for projects designed to promote community development and confidence using informal STEM activities as a vehicle. 

Now, there is nothing more likely to trigger my pontificating reflex than the response that declines an offer of (free) collaboration.  It made me ponder how unlikely such a response would be in the arts. Hence my questions about Bridge and CEPs. There are 10 Bridge organizations across England supported by Arts Council England to the tune of £10m pa. They in turn are supporting the establishment of 50 Cultural Education Partnerships (CEPs). 

Why do these matter to the STEM community? This from the blurb: In each Cultural Education Partnership the Bridge organisation will work with schools, the local authority, voluntary and community organisations, further and higher education, and music education hubs and funders to improve the alignment of cultural education for young people.

To take the example of Brighton CEP, Our Future City, a partnership that has a 10-year vision and commitment from agencies including both local universities, the NHS and Police, there’s a great opportunity for the STEM institutions, departments, research companies and freelance providers to play a key role in ‘making science a fundamental part of culture and society’.

Bridge organisations and CEPs are enthusiastic to hear from you guys; I know, I’m a Trustee of one of them. If you need any further incentive, Bridge organizations have partnership investment funds, and many offer training in Youth Participation, and broker collaborations across all sectors. I’ve long argued for a closer alignment between Citizen Science and Science Capital, for example, especially in the context of cultural and community development; STEM as part of the cultural lives of young people, their families and communities and not simply about the pipeline of supply for future scientists.  And while I’m on the soapbox, I don’t believe that STEAM is the best way to achieve the breadth of cultural entitlement that I’m talking about

Find out more about the Bridge organisations here and CEPs hereThanks for listening, you can put your hands down now.


HYPATIA

Carmen Fenollosa Sanchez de Leon 

Getting young people enthusiastic for STEM: It’s not as hard as adults think it is –This is the first sentence of one of the blogs produced by our teenagers’ editorial board. It summarizes the need and potential to work together with teenagers.

 Hypatia is an EU Horizon 2020 funded project that addresses the challenge of kick starting a collaboration between teenagers, museums, schools, research institutions, gender experts, policy makers and industry, in order to engage 13-18 year old teenagers in STEM. To achieve this, the project has developed the communication campaign “Expect Everything”. A strategy that targets teenagers and brings them into the spotlight, they will have to organize themselves in editorial boards coordinated by science centres in 14 European countries to produce content for our website and social media.

The project embraces a new approach to gender inclusiveness based on the understanding that gender is more than the result of a biological sex; it is also a social construct. Hypatia encourages all learners, regardless of their biological sex, to value their own experiences and interests and reflect on their relevance for science learning. This practice will raise awareness of the needs of marginalized groups of learners, irrespective of their biological sex.

One of the key instruments Hypatia uses is a modular toolkit that groups activities and gender and facilitation guidelines for engaging youngsters in a gender-inclusive way. Drawn from existing European good practices, the toolkit includes a wide range of innovative hands-on activities: workshops, speed dating, card games, debate scenarios, etc. They are aimed at teenagers and can be implemented by teachers but also informal learning organizations, researchers and industry.  They include both activities and facilitation and gender guidelines. The first modules will be ready in October 2016.

Science centres and museums have put in place hubs to gather different organizations and individuals that are crucial in advancing gender inclusiveness in STEM. They consist of informal educational institutions, schools, local, regional, and national authorities, research institutes and industries, gender experts, parents and teenagers. The hubs are crucial in the development and implementation of these modules. They provide a sustainable basis for these activities to be carried out in the long term and allow the project impact to multiply. During the first 6 months of 2017, Head teachers have the opportunity of actively engaging with the project in the seminars that will be organized across Europe to learn but above all to exchange and bring in their expertise into the project.

Of course, Events will take place in science centres and museums and specifically focus on engaging teenagers in a variety of future careers related to science.

Coordinator: NEMO Science Museum

Partners: Bloomfield Sicence Museum Jerusalem, Bureau Q, Ecsite, Experimentarium, Fondation l’Oreal, Museo Nazionale de la Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci (MUST), PPG University of Copenhagen, Universcience , Ahaa, Science Gallery, UK Association for Science and Dsvcovery Centers, , Experyment Gdnya. Centre for the Promotion of Science, La Caixa Foundation, Sciecne Center Netzwerk, Tekniken Hus.


Get me out of here!

Josh Doyle

I'm a Scientist and I'm an Engineer will be running this November to blow away the mad scientist stereotype and show school students a slice of real science and engineering. 

For two weeks between Monday 7th and Friday 18th November students all over the UK will be able to ask questions to, and take part in live text-based chats with real scientists and engineers in the online events. Students then vote for their favourite to win £500 to spend on further STEM engagement.

The online nature of the event helps to give all students a voice, and encourages students to ask the questions they might not be confident asking in front of the whole class. Students see that scientists and engineers are normal people, while being introduced the wide range of possibilities in STEM careers; it's not all hard hats and white coats.

Scientists and Engineers: To take part this November, apply before 26th September here.


BIG People: Karl Byrne

 Job: Senior Programme Coordinator,  Cheltenham Science Festival

 A typical day at work consists of: There are  very few typical days, as the role changes  throughout the year. A major part of it is  programming (as the name suggests)- This  starts waaaay in advance of the festival  (usually before the previous festival has  occurred), and involves researching new  exciting topics and finding the best possible  people to speak on those topics. It's incredibly  varied: one minute I could be looking for a  Nobel Prize winner to talk on the latest  research from CERN, the next finding a science  communicator to talk about the science of  Superheroes, then researching ideas and  proposals that have been sent to us. It's then a  matter of whittling down the 1000's of ideas to  make a coherent, well balanced festival and  making sure both speakers and sponsors are  happy. 

 As the festival gets closer the job becomes one  of making sure the festival runs smoothly- from  checking speakers are booked on the right  trains, to making sure we have enough liquid  nitrogen and that people have told us all about  the various demos they plan to do so we can  get them properly risk assessed. And then the  Festival itself - six days of glorious, sleepless, stressful, satisfying science. A lot of this time I'm involved in troubleshooting and making sure lat minute problems get resolved- missed trains, lost speakers and empty ponds that need to be populated with wildlife are all things that came up last minute.

After the festival I tend to sleep. A lot. Then its back to work, making sure everything gets tied up  from the last festival and then it's full steam into planning the next year! (It makes me tired just reading all of that!)

What got you into this career? Entering FameLab back in 2006, when I was stil a virology researcher.

What is the best thing about your job?  Getting to meet so many amazing scientists and science communicators

... and the worst? Not getting to see most of the events I spent a year planning!

What is your favourite meal?  This changes a lot (as I REALLY enjoy eating), but currently would probably be chargrilled asparagus, truffle salt and a poached egg, followed by crispy seabream fillet, roasted cherry tomatoes and a fennel salad and rounded off with a dark chocolate ganache, all washed down with a nice bottle of Voignier. (Pretentious? Moi?)

What is your favourite smell?  Petrichor, closely followed by San Francisco sour dough bread.

What talents do you possess?  I'm a pretty mean dancer. I can turn my feet back to front and wiggle my ears seperately.  I'm kind of (in)famous amongst friends and colleagues for having a science fact for nearly every concievable subject.

What talents would you like to possess?  1. I'd like to play a musical instrument (my half-assed uke strummings doesn't count) 2. Learning to drive is apparently something I should do... 3. Mutant healing factor and adamantium claws.

Which actor do you think should play you in the film of your life?  John Barrowman :-D

Which living person do you most admire and why?  Most of my heroes are dead or fictional, but if I had to choose a real live person, it would probably be Elon Musk. I'm not sure if we'd get on, as I get the impression he has a bit of a difficult personality, but he also is the closest we have to a real life Tony Stark. He keeps making revolutionary businesses (Paypal, Tesla, SpaceX, the GigaFacto etc. ), all with end goal of colonising Mars and "backing up" the human race. Each time he announces something new it sounds crazy, but he's got an impressive track record of making crazy sounding ideas a reality. That's a lot of drive, determination and vision. And I suspect he has a real life Iron Man suit somehwere I'd like to borrow.

Most beautiful place on earth?  San Francisco Bay (when it's not foggy and you can actually see the Golden Gate Bridge) or the ALICE detector at CERN. It's sooo pretty and sciencey!

What is your Motto for life?  Follow mottos from the three greatest thinkers to ever live - Yoda, Spock and Uncle Ben. I told you most of my heroes were dead or imaginary. RIP Yoda, Spock and Ben.

"Luminous Beings are we, not this crude matter" - Yoda

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or one" - Spock

"With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" - Peter Parker's Uncle Ben


With best wishes from the BIG Executive Committee 2016/17…

  • Bridget Holligan, Chair
  • Karl Byrne, Vice Chair
  • Lucy Moorcraft, Treasurer
  • Natalie Ford, Secretary
  • James Bamford, General Member
  • Andy Miah, General Member
  • Rachel Mason, Event Organiser
  • and Sarah Vining, Administrator

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