Monday, 17 January 2011

Our Pantomime is over... We hope you all had fun!

After a months absence I'm back to Life (Sciences)!

For the past few weeks my life has been spent in Pantoland but I'm now back in the real world; fewer puns, fewer farmyard animals and less cross-dressing but glitter still turning up EVERYWHERE!

I work in a local theatre as part of the tech team and here's your little backstage exclusive of what I've been up to the past month! Westend Schmestend ay!?

The pantomime was Jack and the Beanstalk and it was amazing, so funny with lots of comedic improvisation and high jinks which was nice for us working on it as it kept it fresh. Here's a few pictures:

Clockwise from Top Left:
TL: Cloud Scene (at the top of the beanstalk) being set up
TR: Crumbletown set from the wings
BR: Before the Dame's first number
BL: The giant's henchman delivering the Princess to the giant *BOO!* *HISS!*(There was actually somebody inside that giant costume. I had to lift it and it was HEAVY!)

Here's a couple of shots of the stage during rehearsals:

Among many other pantomime traditions is one called the COD. We discussed many times what this stands for but nobody knew or could ever find out! 

A COD is basically a parody of the pantomime put on and performed by the crew for the cast. Luckily we had a fantastic writer among our numbers who wrote an incredibly funny 45 minute long script for us so it went down a storm!

Our COD was titled 'Jack and the Beanstalk 2: Murder in Fumbletown' and opened with the discovery of the dead body of Daisy the cow *GASP!*

But who dunnit???...




I know. It was a shock for all of us too. I guess he just seemed like a nice guy.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Touch sensitive

This 6 foot tall model may not look like an accurate representation of the human body but it is actually based on scientific fact.

The model shows the proportion of the brain devoted to touch signals from different parts of the body.

As you can see a large proportion of the brain receives touch signals from the lips, ears and hands. 

The model is part of an exhibition called 'Brain: The Inside Story' on at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Click here for a link to the website and information about the exhibition. I was in New York this summer and unfortunately I didn't manage to get to the museum but this exhibition looks fantastic. It investigates how your brain deals with senses, emotions and thinking, how your brain changes throughout your lifetime and how new technologies and discoveries can be harnessed in the future.

Not to lower the tone but there are areas of the body not shown in this photo that I would be interested to see the size of! Perhaps the creator wanted to spare our blushes! It would also be interesting to see how males and females differed when depicted in this way.

I love the way that science has been displayed here. It is so accessible and simple and instantly catches your attention and draws you in. It is as much art as science.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Interesting drawing depicting Chinese medical treatment - what do you think?

I came across this drawing in the latest edition of The Times 'Eureka' magazine. The article was about the move to make traditional Chinese medicine more regulated by implementing Western standards of drug manufacturing; for example mass-producing capsules containing traditional medicines in sterile industrial units.

However, it was this picture that most caught my eye.

It's a drawing of the waiting room at the Hua Cao Health Centre in the Minhang district of Shanghai.

Each seat has an intravenous drip available, attached to a bag of medication.

The Times writer observed that some of those in the waiting room did not seem to be suffering from much more than a cold but were hooked up to the drips.

I thought this quite an interesting concept and am not sure what to think of it. If I have a headache or something I tend to forgo aspirin for just riding it out, preferring not to take medicine unless I really have to.

But maybe this approach prevents wasting a GPs time so that they can see patients with more pressing concerns?

Or does it risk wasting medicine on those who don't necessarily need it and increasing people's resistance to antibiotics and other drugs through overuse?

Obviously not all health centres in China are like this but I did think this particular approach was interesting.

I'd love to know what other people think.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The saddest Christmas tree in the world...

Hidden away at the back of the garden centre.

Where the other 'traditional' Christmas trees don't have to see him.

But allowed a glimpse of what life could have been.

It's not their fault. 
Give a reduced-priced Christmas tree a home this holiday season.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Stunning skeleton photos

One of my favourite courses at uni was called 'Past Lives'. 

It involved dinosaurs, it couldn't fail. 

During one study period we looked at some bones to see what we could conclude about the animals they belonged to. The lecturer also brought in a book for us to look at called 'Evolution in Action - Natural History Through Spectacular Skeletons'. It was written by a guy called Jean-Baptiste de Panafieu and the photos were taken by Patrick Gries. 

This book is AMAZING. I love being able to see the skeletons in such detail and figure out how they enable the animal to move and why they have certain skeletal features, I think it's fascinating. 

I got the book a couple of Christmas' ago and here are some of my favourite photos from it. 

Apologies for the poor photo quality! The quality of the photo's in the book is amazing but once again using the phone from my £20 camera!! But you get the idea!

Babirusa, Babyrousa babyrussa. Indonesia
Interesting fact: A type of wild pig, some individuals die by piercing their own brain with their tusks, apparently a risk of the reproductive process.

Shortfin mako, Isurus oxyrinchus. Temperate and tropical seas.
Interesting fact: Sharks always have a perfect set of teeth. This is because they have rows of teeth that are fixed in the gum and that gradually move forward and are 'shed'.

Rhinoceros hornbill, Buceros rhinoceros. South-east Asia.
Interesting fact: In life the casque (the 'horn' above the beak) and the beak are brightly coloured red, yellow and orange. This is because the hornbill repeatedly rubs the casque and beak against a gland that produces orange and red liquid. The casque and beak start off white.

Vanauatu flying fox, Pteropus anetianus. New Caledonia.

Turbot, Psetta maxima. Northeastern Atlantic.
Interesting fact: A type of flatfish, it has both eyes on the left side. The right side is 'blind'.

Southern sea lion, Otaria flavescens. Coasts of South America.
Interesting fact: In the water this sea lion uses it's arms as paddles, while the rear limbs act as webbed fins and enable direction change. On land however, this sea lion becomes a quadruped, able to jump and gallop.

Southern right whale, Balaena australis. Antarctic.
Interesting fact: Sounds emitted from the blowhole are focused by a sac of complex fats at the top of the skull. These sounds 'hit' objects around the whale and echo back, travelling through the lower jawbone to the middle ear.

Green turtle, Chelonia mydas. Global oceans.
Interesting fact: These turtles must breath air to get enough oxygen to enable their activity levels. They can  dive underwater for 4-5 minutes before coming up for a 1-3 second breath. However, they can rest and sleep underwater for several hours.

Rattlesnake, Crotalus sp. America.
Interesting fact: The rattle is made up of hollow beads that are actually modified scales from the tip of the tail. After they shed their skin for the first time they gain an additional bead that beats against the first bead to create the rattling sound.

Here's the book cover:

Definitely worth a buy, put it on your Christmas list!

Mine was £38 but I just checked Amazon and it says £148!!! Typo I think so maybe check elsewhere!

Hope you enjoyed the photos! If you know of any other gorgeous photo books (about anything!) let me know!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Cybermen Invasion!

Look at this!!!

How cool?!

I WISH I had been in London on the 24th November to see this!

For my fellow old school Doctor Who geeks they also recreated this scene from the 1968 storyline 'The Invasion'.

Cybermen took over London and it's all to promote the new 'Doctor Who Experience'. It opens in February and is described as:

"an unmissable adventure featuring an exhilarating and unique walk-through experience and an awe-inspiring exhibition"

You'll get to meet the monsters, go inside the Tardis, watch exclusive scenes filmed by Matt Smith and see past and present sets.

It sounds AWESOME.

Click here for the link to the 'Doctor Who Experience' where you can find all the details and how to buy tickets.

Only 29 days till the Christmas special!!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Christmas spirit science stylee!

I REALLY want to get into the Christmas spirit. All of the pre-Christmas family birthdays have happened so there's nothing else between now and the big day. It's just not happening and it's getting ridiculous. I was in town last Thursday and in the space of an hour in my local shopping centre I saw Santa drive by in his sleigh, a life-size polar bear wandering around and Cinderella coming out of the Marks and Spencer changing rooms. I then sat in a coffee shop and drank a special Christmas hot beverage, before watching Davina switch on the Christmas lights.


I think it is down to two things...

Firstly, I haven't seen the Coca-Cola advert yet.

Secondly, I need to tidy the PIT that is my room before I can even THINK of decorating it.

But, if anyone else is feeling the same I have an idea, GO HERE...!

The Natural History Museum Ice Rink!

Nothing looks more beautiful and Christmassy than one of the ice rinks dotted around London at this time of year and with the Natural History Museum one you can include a visit to the museum itself or pop around the corner to the Science Museum!

Click here for a link to the website with all the details.

At the Natural History Museum at the moment they have the exhibition for the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year. I went to it last year and it was absolutely fantastic.

The initial winner was this photograph...

However, it was later disqualified on the grounds that the wolf pictured was not wild but was instead a trained wolf that could be hired out.

Other legitimate, highly commended entries included these...

Clockwise from top-left:

'Last of the Tuna' Jonathon Clay
Highly commended in the 'One Earth' category.
'Borneo Baby' Brian Matthews
Highly commended in the 'Animal Portrait' category.
'Bubble Talk' Paul Nicklen
Highly commended in the 'Underwater World' category.

So go check out this years winners! Click here for a link to all of the exhibition information on the Natural History Museum website.

And not forgetting the Science Museum!! 

I was lucky enough to volunteer at the Science Museum over the past year so it holds a special place in my heart! I got a Science Museum shirt and badge and everything!

One of my positions was as an Ambassador helping out visitors on the galleries and the MOST exciting was a position I had working at the Dana Centre, their adult Events centre. The office where I worked was next door to the team who created the newly re-opened 'Who am I?' gallery. I haven't had a chance to go myself but our weekly meetings with the team and chats over cake on Cake Club Friday promised lots of exciting and interesting things!

The 'Who am I?' gallery covers topics from ageing to what makes you you, from how your brain works to why memory is important and how genes affect your health. It includes objects, art and hands-on bits and pieces.

Click here for a link to the 'Who am I?' section of the Science Museum website.

Let me know if you've been to the ice rink or the galleries before, what you thought and if there's anything else you want to recommend!

Have fun!!