Category Archives: Events

Warwick Group’s World TB Day Event

17579967_10212553594214018_2048332116_nLast Friday, for World TB Day, Warwick’s Fullam research group raised awareness of tuberculosis at Cannon Park Shopping Centre. The group had collaborated with local groups, St Peter’s Community Centre and Foleshill Women’s Centre, to produce their interactive stall with the message that this airborne disease is still a killer.


Alongside information leaflets and ‘history of TB’ posters, their stall featured balloons, stickers, cuddly microbes, and fluorescence microscopy pictures. One activity involved breathing into the ‘Big Mouth’ using a straw or face mask, which represented how effective face masks are at stopping the spread of TB. Leaflets gave key facts about TB locally (93 new TB cases in Coventry annually!) and globally while word search, colouring, and Twitter competitions amused many.

When prompted with questions, group members were very enthusiastic to discuss their laboratory projects. Postdoctoral researcher, Mohd. Syed aims “to determine the structure of a Mycobacterium tuberculosis protein, which would help us design more specific drugs against TB.” Meanwhile, PhD student, Magdalena Karlikowska is “interested in how M. tuberculosis utilises and metabolises different sugars to survive within a human host with the aim of discovering new drug targets.”

While we all enjoyed dressing up for the Twitter competition and musing over posters and leaflets, the group also learned more about how TB affects people in Coventry. Magdalena reflected that “it was particularly interesting when an elderly man came up to our stand and shared his experience of nursing TB patients 50 years ago.” Mohd. noted that “many of the elderly who came up to me knew someone who had died from TB, and were therefore interested in what we are doing here. Some even looked for a donation box but we were just raising awareness.”

The event raised awareness of the global and local effects of TB to over 300 people while demonstrating, through stories shared, the need for TB related research.

Science Day. Community, Birmingham, British Science Association

Science Day goes with a Whizz Pop Bang!

For British Science Week we held a Community Science Day at the POD in Birmingham and boy did it go with a Whizz Pop Bang!

We walked like Dinosaurs and heard plenty of fizzing in our Fizz Pop workshop! A range of “pick and mix” activities were also on offer for those who just wanted to dip their toes in the science world. Testing our reaction times, our maths skills and star spotting online were all great fun.


Our co-chair Lucy said of the event, “The Community Science Day was good hands-on fun. I enjoyed sharing some of the excitement that I find in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) with the attendees.” Although as always, science doesn’t always go to plan, she admits, “Some of the experiments could have been more impressive but science does not always go how you expect.”

Science Day, Community, Birmingham, British Science Association

Walking like a dinosaur!

Our free event went down a treat with plenty of fun for both kids and the adults! Surrounded by happy smiles, our BSA volunteers had a blast sharing exciting and interesting science with members of the local community.

To keep up to date with our events make sure to like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter!

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Photos courtesy of the POD.

Guitar, Lecture, Physics, String Theory, Rock Doctor, Music, Acoustics

The Doc Rocked!

Our Annual Prestige Lecture this year went down a storm – with Rock Doctor Mark Lewney well and truly blowing our minds and ears! Full of showmanship and humour, Dr. Lewney wowed his audience, rocking us with his electric guitar through 11 dimensions!

He began with showing off his amazing talent with some requests from the audience, ranging from Metallica to Guns and Roses and even Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars. Once all had settled in to the patter of his humour and awesome playing, he began by explaining sound and how it links to our voice box. Sound is simply vibrations and he explained that they form patterns called sine waves.

For an example, he selected our wonderful BSA President Lucy, from the audience to demonstrate the patterns of vibrations called harmonics. For this he used a childhood favourite – a slinky. Wriggling the slinky at different rates (with Lucy holding the other end) it was clear to see the different patterns taking shape.

Then it was time for us to learn about the vibrations of a string (this is where the guitar comes in) and what impacts its sound – tension, length and thickness. Once we knew that the longer the string the lower the sound and other similar properties, it was time to take our basic physics knowledge and apply it to string theory.

The idea behind string theory is that all the particles in the universe are the vibrations of the same tiny strings (smaller than an atom kind of tiny).  Even that it is possible those strings can vibrate in lots of different dimensions. This of course boggles the mind to think about more than 3 dimensions. But some scientists think it could be that there are many tiny dimensions within our three, perhaps a hidden extra 6 or 7 within these tiny strings. Obviously, we don’t yet have the technology to test string theory and so for many it remains a mysterious and intriguing idea. Very few people fully understand string theory – even Mark held his hands up and said he wasn’t one of those people!

But is it possible that the universe could actually be made of music?

Well after the Rock Doctor had finished his rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody for his finale, I was left feeling anything was possible – and that’s the “kind of magic” I like!

Rock music, universe, physics, acoustics, string theory, lecture, british science association

Are you ready to ROCK?

Next weekend (4th March) we are holding our annual Prestige Lecture open to the public for free. This year we are welcoming physicist and winner of the first FameLab Dr Mark Lewney a.k.a The Rock Doctor. So in preparation for a show full of ear bending, mind blowing science using guitar music to understand the universe, BSA volunteer Amy caught up with him for a chat.

Amy: Since winning FameLab back in 2005, what have you been up to; how has life changed?

Mark: Since winning FameLab, I have done TV and radio work including a “Three Minute Wonder” for Channel 4 and a live show from Edinburgh Festival with Spinal Tap’s Harry Shearer (I jammed on stage with Ned Flanders). I’ve also toured the world with my rock guitar physics show, including science festivals in Tokyo, Las Vegas and most of Europe.

Amy: What’s your favourite part of your job and why?

Mark: My favourite shows are at schools in the evenings, where students, parents and indeed anyone at all turn up. Their questions are always surprising and often really astute.

Amy: What can people expect from the lecture in Birmingham later this month?

Mark: I explain the physics of guitars and use this as a crowbar to explore String Theory and quantum mechanics, culminating in a musical finale. Requests welcome in the warm up!

Amy: What’s your favourite scientific theory/hypothesis and why?

Mark: Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is mind blowing. Together with the hypothesis that a Higgs Field can make gravity repulsive, it could even explain how you get an entire universe from a tiny quantum fluctuation: Basically, it says that there’s no such thing as true nothingness – you’re not allowed to have precisely zero forever.

Amy: What are you getting involved in next?

Mark: I’m trying my hand at historical fiction, and I’m appearing at Cheltenham Science Festival debating philosopher Ray Tallis on the topic “Can Science Explain Music?” I say yes.

A fascinating talk is guaranteed at the lecture with heaps of fun (and good music) thrown in. This free event on 4th March is open to all and is located at the ThinkTank Science Museum, Birmingham from 6-7pm.

If you fancy rocking your socks off please pop over to our Facebook page for more details:

Annual Prestige Lecture 2015

Come and join us for our Annual Prestige Lecture taking place at the Birmingham Thinktank Science Museum on the 5th December 3:30 – 4:30pm.

This years talk is titled ‘Formula One Racing to World Economic Crash – Mathematical Modelling in Today’s Society: A personal perspective’.

We are delighted to have mathmetician Dr Nira Chamberlain deliver this years lecture. Named by the Science Council as one of the UK’s top 100 Scientists, Dr Nira Chamberlain has also been described by Loughborough University as “one of its great scientific minds”.

Admission to this event is FREE and open to all! You can register at Eventbrite.

Contact us through twitter, facebook or leave a reply here if you have any questions. Alternatively contact Anita Shervington at or 07900986663.

Prestige Lecture 2015

2013 Prestige Lecture

Monday 21st October

Prof Iain Stewart

50 shades of grey

Geologists are increasingly being encouraged to present their work to the wider public, and even to advocate more directly its policy dimensions. Yet how can we do that when, for most people, geology is about ‘stones’ and stones are ‘boring’?

This talk will explore how geoscientists can access the public and policy-makers in a myriad of ways, ditching ‘geo-facts’ for ‘geo-culture’ and switching from traditional communication methods to new alternative media.

6.30pm for 7.00pm start

Thinktank Theatre, Level 2

Millennium Point, Curzon St


Iain is Professor of Geosciences Communication at the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science & Environment), Plymouth University.In addition to his academic publications, Iain has also regularly appeared on national television and radio, e.g. Volcano Live, BBC2, July 2012. You can read more about Iain on Plymouth University website or on Wikipedia. Keep up to date with Iain via his personal blog or follow him on his twitter account @Profiainstewart.

Prestige 2013

Second Volunteering Evening – Monday 3rd June 2013

To be held at Thinktank, Birmingham 17.30-19.00

(meet at the Giant Screen Cinema entrance/cafeteria)

A warm invitation to join the meeting is extended to:

  • All who attended the first volunteering evening at Gosta Green on 25th April
  • All who earlier expressed an interest in supporting the work of the Branch but who could not make the first meeting
  • The Branch Chairman, Secretary, and other Branch Committee Members
  • Anyone else who would like to contribute to the work of the Association.

The purpose of the meeting

The Branch Committee welcomed the contributions from the first meeting and would now like the volunteers to help develop a plan for two public events for the 2013-14 Branch programme. The essence of the meeting and the subsequent events are to help promote science, in the broadest sense, to the “community” at large. When finished the expectation is for the volunteers to present their plans to the Committee for inclusion in the overall Branch programme. The Branch Chairman, Secretary and other Committee members will be available for consultation through the planning stage.

At this stage each plan should be carefully thought through but with a concise summary. Each should address the following issues:

  • Nature and content of the event (including who will lead it). Why is this science important for the general public?
  • Target audience
  • How would you propose to promote the event?
  • Resources: finance, manpower, venue, equipment etc.
  • Risk assessment: what are the risks and how would you mitigate them?

Please come and join us on the 3rd June; further information can be obtained from the Branch Secretary, Anita Shervington at or from the Branch’s Facebook and Twitter pages.