On a bright spring day in March I drove to Aylesbury for a day of Investigation and Discovery put on by Buckinghamshire Federation Science and Society team. What a marvellous day! There were four speakers, all experts in their own fields. I was swamped with very interesting information—I just lapped it up! (Unfortunately, I haven’t retained all of it—should’ve taken notes!).
Carbon capture was about sending hydrogen from oil fields, and converting it into the national grid, and taking the carbon emissions back to be stored underground safely. The aim is that by 2050, we will all be using hydrogen to replace gas, though we will have to continue using fossil fuels until we have enough bio-fuels to build the manufacturing plants. I was interested to learn that although great Britain is good at reducing carbon release, aeroplanes release the most carbon, over the oceans, and this is a global problem.
A Life in Astrophysics was presented by Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, an astrophysicist who, as a post-graduate student, discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967. This discovery eventually earned the Nobel Prize in physics in 1974; however, she was not one of the recipients of the prize. She was the only woman studying a degree in Physics at Glasgow University and had to fight for recognition throughout her student career.
Robotics and artificial Intelligence was about automated and autonomous robotic development. Automated robots are widely used for manufacture and surgery among other things, but autonomous robots such as driverless cars are only in the early stages of development. All robots are only as good as their programs, and this development is ongoing.
Rebel Cell: Aspects of Cancer was all about the rebel cells in our bodies. The cells mutate very early on in our lives to become rebels (they re-configure to escape our immune systems) and cause cancers. Research has led to discovery that some rebel cells can be controlled, and unfortunately they soon learn to re-invent themselves and continue to cause trouble.
I learned that though we can make choices to reduce the risks, life is really a lottery—some healthy people get cancer, and some unhealthy people don’t.
The speakers were excellent at presenting their topics in a lively way, particularly the ladies, who spoke slowly and clearly. They had all been heard on Radio 4, were contacted by the team and ‘interviewed’ to make sure that they could present their topics in a way that we would understand.
As Science Representative, I will try to organise something smilar for us in Middlesex. So watch this space!