Tag Archives: news

Coming LIVE! from Antenna

Have you ever visited the Antenna gallery at the Science Museum? It’s an ever-changing exhibition of science news and cutting edge research, where you can find out what’s bubbling and what’s buzzing, see some incredible objects (a dress made of thousands of paper cranes folded from the London Metro newspaper- how’s that for throwaway fashion?) and share your views on our interactive kiosks.

Antenna also has a website which is great for an instant peek into whats happening right NOW in the science and tech world- a lot of teachers even get their students to use it for info gathering before a discussion.

But anyway! The exciting news is that Antenna has 3 live events happening on gallery this month!

2-4 August: Space Robots

Time: 10.00–13.00 and 14.00–16.00

Come and see the robots that could be bound for the surface of distant planets. Are they the future of space exploration? Scientists from Rutherford Appleton Laboratory who developed the robots will be there to answer all your questions.

 16-18 August: Cockroach Robot

Time: 10.00–13.00 and 14.00–16.00

How do insects move so quickly? Come and check out a super-speedy six-legged robot from the Royal Veterinary College. Find out how its cockroach-inspired legs help it move from the engineers who designed it.

Cockroaches get fitted with tiny accelerometer 'backpacks' Cyber-roach – fitted with an accelerometer backpack

23-25 August: Demon unmanned aerial vehicle

Time: 10.00–13.00 and 14.00–16.00

It’s the world’s first flapless aircraft – the Demon UAV, which uses compressed air to manoeuvre. Could this be the stealth plane of the future? Join engineers from Cranfield University and BAE Systems to find out how the Demon works.

Demon unmanned aerial vehicle

Demon UAV - first flapless flight

 So come check out this month’s ‘bots, and chat with the scientists who devised them!

A sticky solution to pollution.

Air pollution levels in London are dangerously high and currently exceed EU recommended maximum levels. So what are we doing about it?

Car exhaust

Car exhaust is one of the causes of air pollution

Scientists have come up with a sticky solution. A layer of a special substance is being spread on roads which will literally stick polluting particles to the ground and stop them recirculation in the air.

High levels of particulate matter in the air are mainly caused by vehicle emissions and can lead to increased respiratory problems such as asthma. It is hoped this new method will reduce air pollution by 10-20%.
Is this just a quick fix solution? What about the alternatives:
changing to alternative fuels (electric, hydrogen, biofuels)
congestion charging and car free town centres;
switching to alternative forms of transport

You could get groups of students to each research one solution and then pitch them to a panel, Dragon’s Den style.

Good luck!


The Little Bang

So, in the news, you may have heard that scientists working on that massively epic underground experiment at CERN aka the Large Hadron Collider, have successfully created a mini-Big Bang (so should it be called a Little Bang?) by smashing lead ions together to recreate the kind of conditions that are believed to have given rise to the universe 13.7 billion years ago.

 Incredibly, the experiment generated temperatures a million times hotter than the centre of the sun, so outrageously hot that the protons and neutrons actually MELTED, ending up in a “hot dense soup of quarks and gluons known as a quark-gluon plasma” to quote Dr David Evans, one of the researchers on the experiment. Sounds yummy. Quarks and gluons are subatomic particles that are the building blocks of protons and neutrons, and therefore, of matter in general. By studying the plasma, scientists hope to learn more about the ‘Strong Force’ which gives atoms most of their mass.

Image of data from lead ion collision at LHC, courtesy of BBC

Data from lead ion collision experiment at LHC

It is extremely expensive to run experiments within the LHC, so it’s great to hear about such fascinating research coming out of it. In terms of benefiting humanity directly though, it’s not a cure for cancer or a solution to world hunger- so are we justified in putting this much money into it? How will working out the intricacies of the universe’s formation help us as a species? And who is to say what research is worth our pennies, and what isn’t?