Blog posts

A Christmas Pudding Fire Tornado

Blogging science to life

Fri 6 December 2013, Heather

It just wouldn't be Christmas without setting fire to the pudding.  Here, Ross from the Live Science Team takes it a step further in Santa's Invention Workshop and creates a flaming tornado!

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What is a meteor shower? And how to spot them...

Blogging science to life

Fri 6 December 2013, Nicole

What is a meteor shower? What's the best way to watch them? Ross Exton and Lee Pullen tell you everything you need to know and give their top tips on spotting shooting stars:

To keep up to date with all our latest videos, don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

P.S. The Geminid meteor shower is due to peak next week, around the December 13-14th, so pop it in your diary and put your new skills to the test!

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Get crafty at After Hours...

Blogging science to life

Sat 7 December 2013, Written by: Heather

With only a few more days to go until our fantastically festive After Hours evening, we thought we'd help you get in the mood for some Christmas crafting with a little taster of what to expect on the night in Santa's Invention Workshop. Why not get hands-on and have a go at making these science-tastic tree decorations this weekend!

Light-up tree decorations

You will need:

  • Felt
  • 20cm piece of ribbon
  • Double-sided tape
  • LED bulb – you can easily find them in electronics stores or online
  • 3v cell battery (the type found watches)
  • 3 sticky foam circles
  • Strong glue or a needle and thread

What to do:

  • Dream up your unique decoration design – we recommend starting with something simple like a star, although other classic Christmas shapes work well too (trees, reindeer faces, puddings…)
  • Cut out the same shape on two pieces of felt
  • Test your LED. It will only light up when the longer of the two ‘legs’ is in contact with the positive side of the battery
  • Stick a foam pad slightly off-centre on one side of the battery
  • Slide the LED back on the battery - make sure it’s the correct way round
  • Stick the LED ‘legs’ in place using a foam pad on each side
  • Squeeze the foam pads to complete the circuit and light up the LED
  • Put your two shapes together to make a pocket, and pop the LED in the middle
  • Glue or stitch the shapes together around the edges
  • Use a hole punch or needle to thread your ribbon through the top

And voila! Your light-up decoration is ready to take pride of place on your tree this year.

If that's whet your appetite for some more Christmas creativity then our elves will be on hand on Monday evening to help you make some science-inspired stocking fillers as part of After Hours, our Christmas knees-up with a difference! Find out more and book your place here.

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How do we know what the Sun is made of?

Blogging science to life

Thu 14 November 2013,

Here's David from the Live Science Team showing us how we can use a trick of the light to find out just what the Sun is made of:

To keep up to date with all our latest videos, don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on Twitter!

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Inprofood: 'chewing the fat' with Bristol's secondary schools

Blogging science to life

Thu 14 November 2013,

Throughout October members of our Formal Learning Team took part in an EU-funded project to work in local schools, facilitating a discussion game called PlayDecide, about healthy eating and obesity. The team worked with 83 pupils aged 12 - 16 from St Mary Redcliffe & Temple School in Bristol city centre, Backwell School, and St Katherine’s School in Pill. The aim of the game was to raise awareness of the issues surrounding these controversial topics, and to gather the opinions of the participants to feed them back to the EU, informing their future policy discussions.

A lively debate as part of the project

Thanks to the funded nature of the project we were able to offer this opportunity to schools for free, which ties closely to our mission to make science accessible for all.

The project is taking place all over Europe, and to date over 1000 students have participated. The game is running in just two locations in the UK, Bristol and Newcastle, where the game is being run by the Centre for Life. Participation in this game has given Bristol and Newcastle students the chance to represent the voices of the young people of the UK in EU parliament. 

It was really great to hear the opinions of the students discussed so freely, and it was brilliant to watch them inform and inspire each other with their ideas.

The groups discussed some particularly interesting ideas such as, ‘Why can’t you stop your own son over-eating?’, the influence of media pressure on people’s perceptions of bodies, and the feeling that food production sometimes wasn’t very a transparent process and if people really knew how foods were made it would put them off eating them.

A lively whole-class debate as part of the project

View the outcome of this international project's findings here.

We look forward to being able to work on other such projects in the future!


 Many thanks to Becky for writing this blog!

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What's inside a heart?

Blogging science to life

Tue 5 November 2013,

Join Ross for a closer look at the anatomy of this fascinating organ...

To keep up to date with all our latest videos, don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on Twitter!

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Do Try This at Home: How to Make Instant Ice!

Blogging science to life

Wed 30 October 2013,

Eddie shows you how to make super-cooled water at home:

To keep up to date with all our latest videos, don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on Twitter!

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At-Bristol Ice Rink - skate under the stars!

Blogging science to life

Mon 28 October 2013, Nicole

To celebrate the launch of online booking for the At-Bristol Ice Rink, we've created a brr-illiant new ice rink video!

Can't wait to get your skates on? Book your place online

Or call 0845 345 1235 (Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm, excluding Bank Holidays).

To keep up to date with all our latest videos, don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Group rates, school bookings and exclusive hire

Skate with your mates, and enjoy fantastic group rates, visit the Times and Prices for more information.

Finish the winter term in style with a fantastically festive school trip to your academic calendar and enjoy special school rates! Find out more

Organising a party or special event? Add an extra bit of sparkle with exclusive hire of the ice!

Please contact our Venue Hire team on venue.hire@at-bristol.org.uk or call 0117 915 8000 (Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm, excluding Bank Holidays).

 

 

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How is an ice crystal made?

Blogging science to life

Fri 11 October 2013,

Raj Bista, Live Science Team Leader, shows us his favourite exhibit, Watch Water Freeze. Using polarising lenses, we take a close look at the structure of ice crystals the moment they are formed:

To keep up to date with all our latest videos, don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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Q&A with Dr Joel Goldstein

Blogging science to life

Mon 7 October 2013, Written by: Dr Joel Goldstein

 

Dr Joel Goldstein is a CERN researcher and particle physicist based at Bristol University.

Dr Joel Goldstein

What is the LHC?

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a huge scientific machine buried 100m under the French and Swiss countryside near Geneva. It consists of thousands of components (magnets, vacuum pipes, cryogenics, electronics....) formed into a 27km circumference ring, and it accelerates intense beams of protons to almost the speed of light before smashing them in to each other. It is run by the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, known as CERN.

What are you trying to find out with your research?

We are trying to determine what the fundamental building blocks of the universe are, and how they interact with each other. The huge energy of the protons colliding at the LHC can produce new particles like the Higgs Boson, probing the fabric of nature at the smallest scales scientists have ever reached.

Large Hadron Collider

What does the work at CERN mean for me in Bristol?

The results from the LHC are helping to answer some of the fundamental questions that humans have been trying to answer for millennia, like what is the nature of the universe and where did everything we see in it come from. Many of the members of the public are just as interested in answering these questions as scientists and philosophers.

On a more practical level, discoveries in fundamental science can lead to advances in technology. Early particle physics research revolutionised our understanding of physics, and a century later the effects of that revolution are everywhere in our world: computers, DVD players, mobile phones and so on.

Finally, the technology we develop for research purposes can spin-out directly into the wider world. If you need an X-ray or PET scan, the most modern systems use particle detectors adapted from those designed for our experiments. And of course the World Wide Web was developed at CERN.

What first got you interested in Physics?

My parents gave me a few popular science books when I was growing up. I enjoyed reading about all areas of science, but I got well and truly hooked by the beautiful simplicity of fundamental physics - the idea that the entire complex universe can be described by a few very simple rules.

Large Hadron Collider

What is the favourite part of your job?

I love the variety. I do public talks, teaching, computer programming, mathematics, electronics, engineering, plumbing, management, and many, many more things as regular parts of my work.  The biggest excitement I get however, is to go underground to see the LHC and its experiments. The size, complexity and ambition of the project is truly overwhelming, and I am still thrilled to be part of it.

Talk us through an average day for you…

I try to balance my responsibilities for teaching and administration with my research. Today, for example, after a quick check of e-mails and the latest public results from my field I will be meeting with a technician to discuss some work on building prototypes of the next generation of particle detectors. Then I am going to do some preparation work for the undergraduate tutorial and teaching sessions I have tomorrow, before sitting down with the team I have working on possible upgrades to the current LHC detectors. We will review the progress made over the past few days and plan the next stages of our tests.

I also need to catch up with a couple of my post-graduate students to see how their research is going, looking for new, unknown particles being produced in LHC collisions. Unusually, I do not have any planned video conferences with colleagues at CERN today, so I hope to have time to talk to my funding agency, arrange flights for my next trip out to Geneva and maybe even tidy up my office a bit! My afternoon will finish in a seminar about the latest results in the study of top quarks, followed perhaps by some lively post-seminar discussions in one of the many fine pubs on St Michael’s Hill.

 


 

Many thanks to Joel for writing this blog. You can find out more about his work here.

Joel will be taking part in this week’s After Hours: Space Odyssey event, on Thursday 10 October in the session ‘Everything you wanted to know about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) but were too afraid to ask’, so come along with questions ready!

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