Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Vaguely Celtic 'bunting' for Buntingmas made from acetate OHP sheets and glass paints

Happy #Buntingmas everyone!

I've painted some patterns onto acetate sheet panels and will let them dry overnight before constructing the panels into bunting. Each one of these is about 2.5 inches long I think (estimate!).

Six panels painted and cut from acetate sheet, sitting on a white sheet.

One panel held up to bright sunlight


About this bunting
It's quite a few years (pre-2000) since I did glass painting as a hobby but I always enjoyed it when I did. Friends and I even used to sell stuff, in a local shop in Camberwell and we had an occasional stall in Camden (Stables Market) in the days when you could rock up at 6am at the weekend and get a pitch for a few pounds. It was not exactly a money-making venture but we'd sell enough to break even. 

Anyway, I have made some glass-painted bunting for this year's Buntingmas and making use of a pack of OHP (Overhead Projector) transparent acetate sheets that I still have from the times of yore when these were how we made presentation slides. They're great to paint on as they behave like glass with respect to the paint and like paper with respect to a pair of scissors, so very easy to cut into shape. 

I think they look rather pretty, though as the first ones I've done in years I expect if you compare them closely with 'my earlier work' they're probably not as neat, but I enjoyed doing them and that is always the most important thing in any endeavour :)

The process involves firstly creating the designs / patterns (see below) then producing a neat copy and 'tracing' the pattern by putting an acetate sheet above it (blue tack helps) and outlining it with relief liner paste (see pic below). Once that's dried you apply the paint. It's more like floating/flooding the paint into the reservoirs created by the raised relief paste, so perhaps a bit more like enamelling. Everything is touch-dry after a couple of hours but properly dry overnight.

About the designs
The Celtic knotwork patterns are pretty easy to create from scratch if you have a book like George Bain's Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction (eg see page 29 [p28 of 162] to get a quick overview). They involve a simple grid, then scaffolding lines and finally the pattern, erasing the scaffolding. I previously screen-printed a bag using a Celtic (actully Pictish) knotwork pattern which I made from scratch with a simple grid, you can see the stages of production in the post linked.

Or you can visit these other online places, or see example YouTube video at the end:

How to draw Celtic knotwork:
http://www.clanbadge.com/tutorial.htm
https://www.instructables.com/How-to-Draw-Celtic-Knotwork/


One acetate sheet filled with several panels and a pattern drawn on.

The original drawings which were traced onto the acetate sheet, using the paste in the tube (Pebeo liner) shown above, which comes out like a bit like toothpaste.




The 60s swirl pattern (below) was just drawn from a series of circles made with a compass and curves intersecting at various points, then taking a rectangular shape and overlaying it on the middle.

Swirly pattern, excerpt used in art project above


A Rennie Mackintosh-inspired painting I made 30 years ago!

A short video tutorial showing how to create a Celtic knot from scratch

 

 

Celtic knotwork doodles made by me following Bain's methods

About Buntingmas
It's just a silly festival I invented at the end of 2019 because I like bunting. It runs from 11 April (which was my mother's birthday) to 11 September (which was my father's) and is basically a Spring and Summer full of cheerful little flags - this is the 2nd annual Buntingmas and so far it's just me celebrating it with my friends indulging me ;) You can read more about it here and click on the Buntingmas category to see more bunting-related posts. There are quite a few to be honest.

 

 

 

Friday, 9 April 2021

QM Conversations - free culture / science / arts talks from Queen Mary University of London - 9-16 April 2021

Full details are here https://conversations.qmul.ac.uk/conversations-week/
and I've copied plain-text version of the blurbs at the end. Click on the link above to see them in their full glory, with names of people hyperlinked to their website and so on. The landing page for all the events on Eventbrite is
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/queen-mary-arts-and-culture-32813317547


Friday 9 April - But first... Some Housekeeping

But first… Some Housekeeping: A Conversation On Housework And Magic
18:00-19:30pm BST



Monday 12 April - Art, Craft and the Value of Conversation

QMUL Network: A Conversation on Sustaining Craft Practice in the Digital Era
14:00–15:30pm BST

On Conversation: A Conversation on Conversation
18:00-19:30 BST

On the Verse in Conversation: Poetry and the State of the Nation
19:30-21:00 BST



Tuesday 13 April - Sounding Out Ideas

See me, feel me, touch me, heal me: On the Multimodal Experience of Sound
13:00-14:30 BST

On Deafness and ‘Hearing’ Music: A Conversation
18:30-19:50 BST



Wednesday 14 April - Futures, Histories, Life and Death

On the Future of Trust: A Conversation on Vaccine Hesitancy
16:00-17:15 BST

On Imagining the Future of Mobility: Putting the Civic in Engineering
17:00-18:15 BST

On Remembering Bangladesh: A Conversation on the War of Independence
18:00-19:15 BST

On the Undead: A Conversation on the Politics and Performances of Zombies
19:30-20:45 BST

 

Thursday 15 April - Bodies in Motion

On the Art of Teeth: A Conversation
~~11:00 BST - time tbc

On Data in Motion: A Conversation
18:00-19:15 BST

On the Art of Boxing in the East End: A Conversation
19:30-20:45 BST

 

Friday 16 April - Flourishing

I'm Thirsty: On Reclaiming Water and the Arts as Universal Common Goods
15:30-17:00 BST

On Storytelling, the Child and Public Health: A Conversation
18:00-19:15 BST

On Promoting Wellbeing Through Music: A Conversation
19:00 BST


Blurbs for each of the talks

Friday 9 April - But first... Some Housekeeping

Friday 9 April - 18:00

But first… Some Housekeeping: A Conversation On Housework And Magic
18:00-19:30pm BST

What are the histories of tidying up?  What are the geographies of household rituals?  How do students navigate their first experiences of doing housework in their own flats?  What if brooms had a mind of their own?  And how can being housebound set us free?

This conversation investigates the histories, rituals and art of housework. We celebrate the commissioned conversation between Stacy Makishi, a performance artist who offers audiences transformational and sacred rituals using the most mundane household objects, and Dr Rhodri Hayward (QMUL Reader in History) who writes on the histories of magic and tidying up.  They are joined by a member of QMUL’s Residential Cleaning team, and by Dr Laura Humphreys, Curatorial & Collections Engagement Project Manager at the Science Museum, and author of the forthcoming Globalising Housework: Domestic Labour in Middle-class London Homes,1850-1914. The panel will think about the histories, geographies and practices of household rituals and the conversation will be followed by a twenty-minute household ritual performed by Stacy Makishi, which will prepare us for the week of conversations to come.


Monday 12 April - Art, Craft and the Value of Conversation

Monday 12 April - 14:00

QMUL Network: A Conversation on Sustaining Craft Practice in the Digital Era
14:00–15:30pm BST

This promises to be a vibrant conversation that will draw on international perspectives to explore contemporary craft practice and economy. Facilitated by feminist craftivist practitioner and researcher Dr Katja May (Goldsmiths), the panel will consider the role of communities of belonging and how craft’s quality of hand-made, intimate connection is maintained across digital, development and diversity divides. Panellists include Professor Nick Bryan-Kinns (QMUL), who will discuss his AHRC funded project, 'Digital platforms for craft' undertaken in collaboration with Hunan Uni, China; Dr Karen Patel (Birmingham City University), who will discuss her AHRC project 'Craft Expertise' or 'Supporting diversity and expertise development in the contemporary craft economy'; craft practitioner Yemi Awosile, who is active in the development of digital craft economies in Africa; and Suzanna Petot, who is a curator, writer and co-organiser of the interdisciplinary project Decorating Dissidence.

This event is organised by QMUL Network, a centre for the creative and cultural economy, directed by Professor Morag Shiach in the School of English and Drama. Network works to facilitate knowledge exchange and collaboration between the creative industries and research interests at QMUL, towards building a resilient, sustainable and socially inclusive sector.


Monday 12 April - 18:00

On Conversation: A Conversation on Conversation
18:00-19:30 BST

In the last year, conversation has been more important than ever. Celebrating our commissioned exchanges between artists and academics at QMUL, this event launches our week of events by hosting a conversation on the topic of conversation. We ask: How have communications technologies altered the way that we converse with each other? Who is speaking, and who is listening, when we engage in conversation with ourselves? What politics of identity and exchange enter into the conversation, and how can we press forms of conversation into experimental modes? Join us for a wide-ranging and exploratory panel on the modes of cognition, experiences of power, and formal aesthetics that inform conversations as they happen in our daily lives. In this Conversation on Conversation, Queen Mary academics and artists discuss how processes of conversation support, transgress and radicalise encounters of embodied discourse. Professor of Human Interaction Patrick Healey will discuss how conversations make us feel; Professor of Humanities Barbara Taylor discusses philosophies and representations of voice in solitude; and Lecturer in Experimental Cognitive Psychology Magda Osman will speak on how conversations are brokered. Throughout this panel, Professor of Contemporary Performance, artist and activist of conversation Lois Weaver will infuse her work designing and facilitating new forms and protocols for conversation.  


Monday 12 April - 19:30

On the Verse in Conversation: Poetry and the State of the Nation
19:30-21:00 BST

‘Listen closely, the one language speaks in scattered tongues’, writes poet Nisha Ramayya in States of the Body Produced by Love (Ignota, 2019). As a gathering of scattered tongues, this panel of poets from the UK and US asks: what is the role of poetry in the national conversation? How can poetry help us to take personal and collective action in times of crisis? Nisha Ramayya (QMUL Lecturer in Creative Writing) is joined by Meera Dasgupta, 2020 Youth Poet Laureate of the United States; Asia Khatun, poet and editor of Thawra; Kashif Sharma-Patel, who as a writer and editor at 87 Press, focuses on queer and racialised experimental work; and Kay Rufai, poet, photographer and filmmaker. Together they will put verse into the national conversation, exploring the power of poetry to create solidarity, to offer a place of dissent, and to challenge state-fuelled crises.


Tuesday 13 April - Sounding Out Ideas

Tuesday 13 April - 13:00

See me, feel me, touch me, heal me: On the Multimodal Experience of Sound
13:00-14:30 BST

This panel will examine how people associate colour, shape, and touch to sound, how human sensory experience varies across individuals, and how associations between the senses support uniquely human forms of communication like language and music. The online event will begin with streaming audio and video recordings from Xenia Pestova Bennett’s (University of Nottingham) semi-improvised work Glowing Radioactive Elements (2018, 25’), which consists of five interwoven movements, each exploring different timbral techniques for the Magnetic Resonator Piano. The MRP is an innovative instrument designed by Andrew McPherson (QMUL Augmented Instruments Lab). Electromagnets are suspended above the piano strings without coming into contact with the mechanism, allowing resonance to be “shaped” from the keyboard while retaining the use of the original action. The five pieces include continuous control of the resonance, pitch bends, harmonic glissandi, envelope shaping and a unique “stutter” of the MRP mechanism, an unintentional scanner by-product. Each movement is associated with a radioactive element and its “colour” signature. To examine how these quasi-synaesthetic poetic associations encourage interplay between artistic expression and listener perception, the panel will initiate a conversation with audience members, recording their perceptions of sound-colour and other crossmodal associations evoked during the performance. Following the streaming, Xenia Pestova Bennett and Andrew McPherson will be joined in conversation by timbre researcher Charalampos Saitis (QMUL Centre for Digital Music; panel coordinator), cognitive linguist Christine Cuskley (Newcastle University), artist-performer and researcher Camille Baker (University for the Creative Arts), sound-led performance artist Julie Rose Bower (QMUL Drama), and artist-researcher Sebastian Löbbers (QMUL Media & Arts Technology).

 

Tuesday 13 April - 18:30

On Deafness and ‘Hearing’ Music: A Conversation
18:30-19:50 BST

Although it is often presumed that you need good hearing to appreciate music, the act of hearing extends across multiple senses. Tonight we explore how we literally ‘hear’ music. What faculties might compensate if our hearing is impaired? Does hearing loss change the way we ‘feel’ music? Chaired by Queen Mary's Director of Music Paul Edlin, this panel will explore hearing from the perspectives of musicians and physicians. We are joined by the internationally celebrated percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, who is the first person in history to successfully create and sustain a full-time career as a solo percussionist. Growing up on a farm in the north east of Scotland, Evelyn became drawn to percussion as her hearing declined because she could ‘feel the sound’. Former QMUL Music Society President and London Chamber Orchestra Music Scholar Atalanta Hersey will reflect on her experiences of performing as an oboist with severe deafness; they are joined by the renowned fortepiano recitalist Professor John Irving (Guildhall School of Music and Drama). President of the British Otology Society and one of the world’s leading ENT hearing specialists, Mr Chris Aldren, contributes insights as a consultant endoscopic ear surgeon with particular interest in hearing restoration. 


Wednesday 14 April - Futures, Histories, Life and Death


Wednesday 14 April - 16:00

On the Future of Trust: A Conversation on Vaccine Hesitancy
16:00-17:15 BST

After all the clapping, does vaccine scepticism point to an erosion of trust in doctors, scientists and the NHS? Who will we trust in the future?  How has trust changed during the pandemic? Trust is a necessary prerequisite for the functioning of public health systems like vaccination programmes. But trust must extend far beyond the medical system in order to ensure that vaccine uptake succeeds. Trust in government, in expertise, in the state, in science, in community, in technology all play a crucial role in how confidence and trust in vaccinations can thrive – or not. Building confidence in the Covid-19 vaccination programme therefore requires a multidisciplinary approach that goes beyond the medical, taking account of perspectives drawn from politics, law, social science, finance and the arts. This conversation includes academics from six disciplines across Queen Mary to think about the future of trust. Conversationalists will include Valsamis Mitsilegas, Professor of European Criminal Law and Global Security; David McCoy, Professor of Global Public Health; Stella Ladi, Senior Lecturer in Business Management; Mario Slugan, Lecturer in Film Studies; Sarah Wolff, Reader in European Politics and International Politics; and Gülnur Muradoğlu, Professor of Finance.

 
Wednesday 14 April - 17:00

On Imagining the Future of Mobility: Putting the Civic in Engineering
17:00-18:15 BST

How will transport engineers contribute to rebuilding London after lockdown?  What is the relationship between transport and access to public space and how might this relationship be reimagined in the future? How was the future of transport imagined by Londoners in the past?  What is the relationship between mobility and social mobility in the engineering profession?  This panel will explore the civic value of transport engineering by asking what the future of mobility in London might be. Natalie Cheung, a civil engineer and STEM ambassador will talk about women’s access to public space and the role of social mobility in the engineering profession. Dr Jun Chen, QMUL Senior Lecturer in Engineering Science, will investigate how passenger flow in public transport shapes our experience of cities, and Louise Webb will reflect on her experiences as a Passenger Handling Project Manager for Thameslink Rail. Recently celebrated by the Women in Engineering Society as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering 2020, QMUL Lecturer in Functional Materials Dr Petra Ágota Szilágyi will discuss her focus on energy and sustainability, and opportunities to address global challenges in a multidisciplinary way.


Wednesday 14 April - 18:00

On Remembering Bangladesh: A Conversation on the War of Independence
18:00-19:15 BST

We often think of history books as the official place where major events, conflicts and independence movements are recorded. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s War of Independence, this panel explores how art and cultural practices can also help us to remember. We ask how photography, dance, cookery and film can keep memories of independence movements alive, and how art can also help us to mediate the meanings of those memories. The panel will include Shahidul Alam (named one of Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year in 2018), whose photography has captured major events in contemporary Bangladeshi history, Showmi Das, a Kathak dancer (who will perform a commissioned work in response to the anniversary), and Asma Khan, the chef and owner of Darjeeling Express restaurant and star of Netflix's Emmy nominated Chef's Table, who will discuss how food can keep memories alive. Dr Clelia Clini, Research Associate with the Migrant Memory and the Postcolonial Imagination research project at Loughborough University, will discuss the ways in which the memories of the war circulate within migrant communities. The panel will be chaired by Dr Ashvin Devasundaram, Senior Lecturer in Film at QMUL.  This panel has been commissioned in collaboration with Tower Hamlets Council.


Wednesday 14 April - 19:30

On the Undead: A Conversation on the Politics and Performances of Zombies
19:30-20:45 BST

Born with cystic fibrosis, QMUL’s Dr Martin O’Brien (Lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance) has recently surpassed his life expectancy – as such, the artist is now living in what he terms ‘zombie time’. This conversation, chaired by Martin, explores how performance practices can reveal the politics and possibilities of the zombie by laying bare the experience of living with – and past – life limiting chronic illness.  Martin is joined by the South African writer, theatre-maker, and poet, Genna Gardini, whose doctoral work explores Multiple Sclerosis, gender, queerness, and performance, and curator Dr Jane Wildgoose, Keeper of the Wildgoose Memorial Library, who will discuss what it means to work with museum objects that are neither alive nor fully dead – human remains, skulls, and a single hair from Lord Nelson’s head, along with her costume work inspired by Bob Flanagan for the film Hellraiser.

 

Thursday 15 April - Bodies in Motion

Thursday 15 April - 11:00 (tbc)

On the Art of Teeth: A Conversation
~~11:00 BST - time tbc

While they are inside our mouths, teeth shift, decay and fragment; yet once outside of the mouth, they become almost indestructible remnants of who we are, and were. This conversation explores the practices of dentistry and the histories of teeth and asks: what has art got to do with it? In this conversation, QMUL historian Colin Jones, author of The Smile Revolution in Eighteenth Century Paris, offers a history of teeth and smiling, while sculptor Janetka Platun and David Mills of Queen Mary’s Institute of Dentistry discuss the exploratory art of scanning and depicting teeth through – among other means – microtomography, Pringles cans, and heritage techniques. They are joined by Professor of Applied Performance Practice Ali Campbell (QMUL Drama) and Head of Paediatric Dentistry Ferranti Wong (QMUL), who will discuss their collaboration on the child-led research project The Dental Detectives to explore dental anxiety and possible solutions in paediatric dentistry.


Thursday 15 April - 18:00

How does data move, and how does motion create data? What counts as predictable or unpredictable motion, and how does it move us emotionally?  These are questions that dancers, sports scientists, mathematicians, data scientists and choreographers all grapple with. This conversation will explore the overlaps between the work of data scientists and mathematicians in using data to predict motion, and the ways in which dancers and sports scientists map movement.  Starting with the commissioned conversation between the choreographer Alexander Whitley and QMUL Professor of Mathematics Thomas Prellberg, the panel will also include Professor Dylan Morrissey, Consultant Physiotherapist and Professor of Sports and Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy at Bart's and the London NHS Trust in conversation with Andy Reynolds, Medical Director at the English National Ballet, Professor of Computer Vision and Human Sensing Ioannis Patras of the QMUL School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, and Dr Elisabetta Versace (QMUL School of Biological and Chemical Sciences), who will explore how digital technologies can support dancers’ learning, including the potential for Artificial Intelligence to help dancers gain additional skills from home during the pandemic. The panel will be chaired by Dr Martin Welton, Reader in Theatre and Performance.

 

Thursday 15 April - 19:30

The celebrated East End prize-fighter Daniel Mendoza revolutionised boxing in the late 18th and early 19th century. As a Jewish boxer, Mendoza experienced and challenged antisemitism throughout his life. Mendoza’s body was buried in the Novo Jewish Cemetery at Queen Mary, which still contains a plaque commemorating his life. Following a series of workshops with QMUL students on autobiography and boxing, this conversation gets into the ring with Mendoza to consider the arts and histories of boxing in the East End. Chaired by QMUL’s Dominic Johnson, Professor of Performance and Visual Culture, the conversation will include Professor of Urban Literature Nadia Valman (QMUL), who will explore the Jewish histories of Mendoza’s East London, while the artist Jake Boston will discuss his autobiographical show Bare Knuckle, along with other guests from the boxing world, TBC. They are joined by sports scientist and Upper Limb injury specialist Ian Gatt of the English Institute of Sport, who is Head of Performance Support for GB Boxing.

 

Friday 16 April - Flourishing

Friday 16 April - 15:30

I'm Thirsty: On Reclaiming Water and the Arts as Universal Common Goods
15:30-17:00 BST

What does water have in common with the arts? This conversation starts from the premise that as much as water is indispensable to our survival, so are the arts. And yet, both are dangerously devalued in our society. To start the conversation social anthropologist Megan Clinch (Blizard Institute, QMUL) and artist Ruth Levene will introduce their research exploring the impact of flooding on the communities that live in the Calder Catchment, Yorkshire. This will include reflections on how communities are re-connecting with water in response to climate change. After this, the co-directors of the MSc Creative Arts and Mental Health, Bridget Escolme (Professor of Theatre and Performance, QMUL) and psychiatrist and theatre scholar Maria Grazia Turri (Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, QMUL), will reflect on the value of the arts for mental health and social justice. Join us for this conversation on the common challenges and opportunities faced by those who believe that both water and the arts should be reclaimed as universal common goods, accessible to all.


Friday 16 April - 18:00

On Storytelling, the Child and Public Health: A Conversation
18:00-19:15 BST

This panel will explore the critical work of storytelling in communicating public health messages to children or about children. Professor Tina Chowdhury (QMUL Engineering) will talk about her work using immersive tech to visualise foetuses in the womb – a practice that both treats foetal illness, and inspires women to experience agency around preventative health measures during their pregnancies. Professor Fran Balkwill of Queen Mary’s Centre of the Cell and Barts Cancer Institute, a pioneer in the field of communicating biomedical science to children, will reflect on her experience in publishing children's literature around biomedicine and public health. Roz Paul, Artistic Director of Scene & Heard children’s theatre charity, will discuss the company’s twenty-two year history of using playwriting as a mentoring technique with children in Camden, including some of the remarkable plays involving illness and health written by nine-year-olds. Dr Lucie Glasheen and Dr Rachel Bryant Davies will share insights from their ongoing British Academy-funded project exploring how storytelling can help children understand COVID-19 and mitigate its effects. The panel will be chaired by Professor Kiera Vaclavik, co-founder and Director of the Centre for Childhood Cultures at Queen Mary.


Friday 16 April - 19:00

On Promoting Wellbeing Through Music: A Conversation
19:00 BST

This conversation delves into the incredible power of music to support wellbeing in social and educational settings. Hattie Rayfield of the London Chamber Orchestra introduces the LCO’s Music Junction programme, which works with children and young people from a wide range of backgrounds to provide them with opportunities to develop artistic and social skills through shared music making. Kerstin-Gertrud Kärblane joins the panel to discuss her work with Music Junction as a mental health practitioner through Queen Mary’s MSc in Creative Arts and Mental Health. Professor Paul Heritage of Queen Mary’s People’s Palace Projects will speak on his collaborations with María Claudia Parias Durán, Director of the Fundación Nacional Batuta in Colombia, who make music with 40,000 young people each year - many of them displaced by the civil war. Director of Music Paul Edlin (QMUL), who has created an online space for student musicians at Queen Mary to share their experiences and music throughout lockdown, chairs the panel. With the power of music as a catalyst for conversations today and in the future, the evening will close with a performance by young LCO Music Junction musicians, sharing with us their experience of the richness of music to increase wellbeing in us all.

 



What are the *risks* of losing weight (when overweight)?

This posts relates solely to people who are overweight or obese and who have excess weight to lose. Those who are at a healthy weight have different risks from losing unnecessary weight.

I've sent an email to the World Obesity Federation to ask. My sciencey background never brought up this facet of weight gain / weight loss but I have occasionally wondered. If transporting fats around the body when putting on weight can lead to atherosclerotic damage and high blood pressure can't the same thing happen when losing weight as, from a 'transport infrastructure' point of view, there's no difference - fat, in the form of lipoproteins, is whizzing around in the blood whether it's about to add to or be taken from adipose tissue.

Here's what I sent, if I get a reply I'll add the gist of it.

I am trepidatiously adding 'weight loss' to the labels for this post, knowing that this will very effectively bring a lot of spam commenters to my yard ;)

 

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Online talks coming up this week (science heavy)

Lockdown has not interfered that much with my hobby of attending science talks - hooray. 

Here are a few coming up that I might well go to. 

Wednesday 31 March
• 
Botany in 18th Century Cambridge: A first look inside the Martyn collection - 4pm - FREE  

•  Into the London Fog - 6.30pm - FREE

Thursday 1 April
• 
Overloaded: how your brain chemicals influence your life - 12.30pm - ~£20 
 - from the Royal Institution (Eventbrite events)
• 
Bats in Churches - 6.30pm - FREE 

Sunday 4 April
• 
In Conversation with David Attenborough - 2pm - FREE 

Wednesday 7 April
• 
RECOVERY trial, one year on - 9am - FREE 
• 
Colonial Knowledges: Environment and Logistics in the Creation of Knowledge in British Colonies from 1750 to 1950 - 5-6pm - FREE
This one is fairly academic: "The effects of colonial power dynamics on knowledge creation in the long nineteenth century and beyond are well known and have become the foundation of a postcolonial reading of British scholarship in the context of empire. What has been less well examined are the practical effects of the colonial context on knowledge making. This seminar series seeks to explore how logistical and practical factors, such as the physical environment including climate and distance from the metropole, influenced the creation of both scientific and humanistic knowledge in British colonies."

Jo's list of useful events pages (most are, like me, in London)

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

The Imaginary Paddington 2 Science Festival

Following on from my Imaginary Maritime Science Festival (full of good ideas even if I say so myself) I have begun thinking about the science in Paddington 2 and what my imaginary science festival based on it might look like. Pretty good actually. Give the tenuous links between the film and science listed below a hard stare and see what you think.

  1. Andean spectacled bears 
  2. Oranges...
  3. ...and marmalade
  4. Botanical art
  5. 3D representations: Origami
  6. 3D representations: rendering of images in computers
  7. Robotics
  8. Facial recognition technology
  9. Steam trains

1. Andean spectacled bears
Paddington's look is based on a real bear, Tremarctos ornatus (spectacled bear) - they're rather cute. I think there could be a lecture about their lifestyle and habitat, conservation efforts and so on, and relationship with other types of bear.

2. Oranges...
In 2007 I spent a happy fortnight at the University of Leiden studying on their Economic Botany course (ethnobotany with a particular focus on how humans use plants). Much like dogs plants are bred for all sorts of reasons and when it comes to fruits it's things like flavour and peelability. The citrus family is full of created fruits with a long lineage from ancestral forms of deliciousness. While studying there I managed to get to eat a few of the more unusual ones (it was a wonderful and fascinating course, led by David Mabberley).

3. ..and marmalade
Plenty of science in marmalade making - role of pectin, extractions and filtering, flavour molecules, sterilisation of glass bottles etc. Perhaps there could be a workshop in which everyone gets to go through the process of making marmalade and then takes home a jar of marmalade. Depending on how long the process takes that bit may involve pre-made marmalade.

Marmalade

4. Botanical art
This would possibly fall in the Arts & Crafts section of the festival (which, by the way, is interdisciplinary) as this obviously involves drawing - but it has been an important tool in scientific understanding and discovery and was incredibly important before photography got underway. Herbaria are library collections of dried plants (herbarium specimens) and are beautiful, if sometimes a little eerie.

kew herbarium (19)

An interesting aside is that paintings made of Primula flowers a century before Darwin described the two different forms (thrum and pin) showed these features very clearly. There is also an archaeobotanist who has used renaissance art to uncover lost species of fruits.

5. 3D representations: Origami
There's a lovely bit in the film when Paddington imagines his aunt Lucy seeing a pop up book of London (first video) and I think we might have a nice session on the science of folding and space-saving. For example the second video shows a foldable solar array for use on space satellites (I think there's similar stuff going on with antennae too, which can be folded for launch and unfurl once in orbit).

 

 

6. 3D representations: rendering of images in computers
The wonderful Framestore once came to QMUL's computer science department to give a talk about their work on the film Gravity. Normally these talks are tolerably well-attended, this one was packed with people turning up all the time trying to squeeze in. It was also the same day as the Christmas Party so normally people would have been happy to bring things to a rapid conclusion and get to the beers and wine but we all cheerfully kept the Framestore chaps for an hour and a half pelting them with questions about how they'd done all this amazing stuff in computers. They also did the fantastic Visual Effects (VFX) for Paddington 2 and you can see some of their work in the video below.

 

7. Robotics
A bit more tenuous but there will be people who could talk you through what it would take to 'animate' one of the bins at Paddington station and have it wheel around the concourse thanking anyone who drops something in it.

8. Facial recognition technology
Phoenix Buchanan spends most of the film trying to disguise himself as different characters so that he can get close to various London landmarks without suspicion to collect a variety of letter clues deposited on them (these are to be played as musical notes on a fairground organ which will unlock it, letting the player access the treasure within). At 1m 33s in the video below Mrs Brown is having tea with Phoenix Buchanan and, alerted by his comment about a pencil drawing having blue eyes, realises that he is the thief as all the images of him drawn for the wanted posters suddenly overlay over his eyes. It reminds me of a scene in the film Amelie in which she makes a discovery (don't watch the video if you've not seen it as it will spoil things for you).

There could be an interesting talk about facial recognition technology, how it's been used and misused - how biases in algorithms can hurt some sections of society in particular - and how some (though not all) police forces have stopped using it.

 

9. Steam trains
Slightly more tenuous but the Brown's son Jonathan is particularly keen on them and learns about them in his holiday, putting this knowledge to good use at the end of the film. Lots to be said about steam power, from a historic point of view too, and here are some fabulous photos of exploded boilers. Yikes.