As an international student studying MSc in Finance and Management at Loughborough University, UK, I was lucky to get Lilian Elizabeth Bowmaker Bursary to attend BA Festival of Science 2004. This bursary had always been given to Science students. I did not believe, when I got the congratulation email from my personal tutor, John Clarke, that I have won the bursary. The dream came true.
The festival, organised by the British Association for the Advancement of Science, aimed to make science more accessible to all. This year the festival took place at Exeter University from 6 – 10 September 2004, and throughout the city from 4 - 11 September, which attracted over 400 of the best scientists and science communicators from home and abroad to reveal the latest developments in research to the general audience.
On arrival a big welcome party was held for the students coming from different universities. It was a good ice breaker to know new friends and the party made us feel at home. In addition to the interesting and varied programmes, festival offered loads of exciting events, including exhibitions, cafe scientifique, science fiction films, special excursions to local sites, musical and drama performances and so on. It was really difficult for me to choose which programme to attend as almost ten programmes run every day at about the same time. I cherish the opportunity so much that I did not want to miss each of them. The following are the events I have attended and want to share with you the splendid experience:
Special Excursions to Local Sites
1. Organic farm tour:
2. The Eden Project----The eighth wonder of the world
Below are the debates which I attended:
Psychology, being the subject I am most interested in, motivated me to attend the discussion by Elaine Funnell. Professor Elaine Funnell, the president of the BA Psychology Section, displayed her scientific investigations revealing the reasons that why people can do odd things when they are tired or confused. The research also showed muddles don’t usually affect all aspects of the mind, and different types of muddles can tell us about how the mind is organized.
Chemistry is one of the topics I could never let slip which lasted from 9:30am to 5 pm. The subtopics were: Earth past; ESA’s SMART-1 mission to the Moon: technology and science; Fossils of planet formation: the Rosetta mission; Meteorites: a window on planetary evolution; Earth – present and future; Atmospheric future: chemistry and climate; Atmospheric chemistry – air quality and climate change. I still clearly remember a 35 years old man sitting next to me during breakfast asking: “Will you do the presentation at the festival ?” I replied him with a smile and said :”Just attend.” Anyway I thought he should be a attendee like me or a member of staff for the festival. To my overwhelming surprise, he gave the second presentation. I came to know that he is the scientist working at European Space Agency and is mainly responsible for the launch of SMART-1, which is the first European mission to the Moon using solar electric propulsion to reach lunar capture. During his presentation I was thinking that maybe the persons next to me are all acknowledgeable scientists!
As a business school student I had no chance to approach science so closely like this. The above are just those activities which I have attended however there were far more than those in the festival. For example, I missed the trip to Plymouth Marine Aquarium and those topics like eliminating weapons of mass destruction;150 years weather foresting; bubbling with ideas – developing young children’s curiosity, creativity and communication and so on due to time constraints. Even though I am not a expert and just know the superficial knowledge of the latest technologies, it was really a wonderful opportunity for me to learn. Whether you are a professional scientist or someone else with a burning interest in a particular subject, it was likely to be something for everyone with over 120 events during the week. I hope that you can have the chance to attend the BA Festival of Science 2005 which will be held in the charming place – Trinity College Dublin.