February 2, 2012
Featuring the Galactic Gourmet, Science Junkie Greg Foot, Marcus du Sautoy, Simon Foster, Blind Robot’s Bluff, Tobin May & The Bionic Ear, Andrea Sella and Physics V Chemistry, the Vaccine Assault Course, and the cornstarch runway. With thanks to the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Science and Technologies Facilities Council, who sponsored all our events celebration Invention and the Universe this summer.
Shot and directed by Isis Thompson.
October 3, 2011
Biochemical engineer Mike Hughson of UCL joined us (with fellow engineers Chris Grant and Matthew Shiers) at the Secret Garden Party and Bestival this summer with an outlandish event: The Vaccine Assault Course. “Telling people what I do can be somewhat challenging, as their eyes often glaze over at the mention of ‘biochemical engineering’. So we thought we would try a different tact: have people act out the steps in the engineering process, and pretend to become the drug themselves.” He tells us more about the genesis of this very unusual spectacle.
“Your balls are very important,” I said to the guy dressed solely in fiery red lingerie and fox ears. “Try and make sure you don’t lose them.”
In his eyes I saw a hunger for fame and glory that could only come from a semi-naked man on the Isle of Wight clad in lace suspenders, matching bra and spurred on by his huntsman comrades and the gathering crowd. Although probably the least foxy fox the world has ever seen, he was determined to dominate this assault course and become the most morally dubious vaccine the world has ever seen; this was Bestival, and anything was possible.
September 30, 2011
Prosthetics expert Sarah Sydney from the University of Bath joined us at Bestival and introduced us to the cyborgs that walk among us today, from people who can walk again thanks to prosthetic limbs, to the lucky recipients of bionic eyes. Thanks to engineers like her the deaf can hear, the blind may see, and the paralysed walk. Sometimes, human progress is an astounding thing.
“Darth Vader!” “The Borg.” “Robocop.” “Inspector Gadget!”
These were some of the answers to the question I posed to the Bestival-goers in the Guerilla Science tent: “Do you know any cyborgs?”
We all know cyborgs in science fiction. But where are the cyborgs in real life?
Well, technically, they’re everywhere. Anyone with a hearing aid, glasses, or a walking stick could be called a cyborg, because they are restoring or enhancing their body’s functions with mechanical or electrical aids.
September 28, 2011
Mechanical engineer Keri Collins from the University of Bath joined us at Bestival to explain why fish – and even turtles – are the best inspiration for submarine design, and how next year she might be the queues to the Isle of Wight in a pedal-powered sub…
Biomimetics, also known as bio-inspiration, bionics or biomimicry, is the process of looking at how problems are solved in the natural world and using that information to create solutions to our own technological problems. This isn’t as simple as straightforward copying though – if you strapped a pair of wings to your arms and waved them around, you wouldn’t be able to fly, you’d just get tired. And yet birds have been instrumental in creating our own flying machines, from aeroplanes to helicopters to small flying spy craft, often called micro air vehicles. The key is to isolate the physical principle and apply it in a new context.
At Bestival, I explained to the gathered crowd some of the fish-inspired propulsion projects I have been involved in. Through an audience participation exercise, we explored the many ways in which fishes swim.
From Nemo-esque clown fish, rowing with their pectoral fins, to the giant Manta rays, to wiggly eels, each fish has evolved according to its environmental niche. So fish-inspired propulsion has a large pool (no pun intended) to draw from. click to read more »