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Welcome to the blog, you can read all about the latest news for the sections and take a look in our archive. Scroll through the latest posts below, or select a section from the dropdown.

By Lewis Dartnell

Lewis Dartnell

Lewis  is a UK Space Agency research fellow at the University of Leicester, and author of ‘Life in the Universe – A Beginner’s Guide’ and the illustrated children’s book ‘My Tourist's Guide to the Solar System’. This blog post was written as part of the series of posts on the latest Public Attitudes to Science survey being conducted by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and Ipsos MORI.


There is something about the stars, planets and galaxies in outer space that really seems to capture people’s imagination. And this certainly came across in the last Public Attitudes to Science (PAS) survey. Humanity has always been a curious species, constantly peering towards the horizon to wonder what lies beyond. A few centuries ago, courageous sailors set into the unknown to discover new lands and today we’re able to explore whole other worlds.

by Anisha Tailor, Press Office Assistant at the British Science Festival 2013


Women talk about a lot. But have I ever had an in-depth conversation about what my lady parts look like with a pal? Not a chance. And an impromptu survey of my nearest and dearest revealed they hadn’t either.  Me, asking “Do you ever talk about what your labia look like?” was as about as in-depth as it got.

By Katie Griffiths, Young People's Programme Assistant at the British Science Association


"Has the public engagement project stalled?" This was the question Professor Lisa Jardine asked in her Presidential Address as the British Science Festival drew to a close last week. Over the past decade, public interest and enthusiasm about science has increased hugely, so why do we appear to have hit a wall when it comes to public engagement in science policy?

By Katie Griffiths, Young People’s Programme Assistant at the British Science Association


Today, on the last day of the British Science Festival 2013, Bryce Dyer gave a challenging and exciting talk on prosthesis, disability and the role of technology in sport for the Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award lecture, the last in the British Science Association’s Award lecture series. I’m sure I won’t be the only member of the audience who spends many hours over the next few days pondering the difficult questions that Bryce raised during his talk, discussing them over the dinner table, and generally scratching my head trying to come to a conclusion about what is right and what’s just going one step too far.

By Katie Griffiths, Young People’s Programme Assistant at the British Science Association


Just over a year ago today, on 28th June 2012, the skies of Newcastle darkened and the heavens opened. Within 2 hours, 50 mm of rain had fallen, and the streets of Newcastle had flooded with water, leaving many people stranded on their way home from work. In the aftermath of this and other recent floods, experts have been asking: are sudden extreme floods like this on the rise? Today, at the Joseph Lister Award Lecture at the British Science Festival, Dr Hayley Fowler, Professor of Climate Change Impacts at Newcastle University addressed a packed auditorium to try and answer this question.

By Lizzie Gemmell

Yesterday evening scientists and interested public gathered for the British Science Festival’s Huxley Debate, which saw Tim Spector (Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at Kings College, London) take on George Davey-Smith (Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Bristol) to debate the controversial new field of epigenetics. The session was chaired by Lisa Jardine, President of the British Science Association.

By Alice Johnson, Press Office Assistant at the British Science Festival


Unsurprisingly for me, I was a little late for ‘Blue Seas Research: Predators and prey in an ever-changing system’. Five minutes after the talk had begun; I was trying to quietly sneak in to a fully-packed lecture theatre. I was fortunate enough to have been asked last minute to attend Jonathan Houghton’s lecture and write about it. Upon entering the room, I noticed three predators staring back at me from the screen: a leatherback turtle, an ocean sunfish and a basking shark. Each marine animal represented a case study to help us understand the behaviour and threats faced by top predators at sea.

by Holly Plummer, Senior Pipeline Integrity Engineer, GE Oil & Gas.

Holly joined PII Pipeline Solutions ( a GE Oil & Gas and Al Shaheen joint venture) in 1997 after finishing a degree in Mathematic. Her first role was as a Data Analyst analysing pipeline inspection data. In 1998 she joined the Pipeline Integrity Services Department where she now works as a Senior Integrity Engineer conducting technical assessments of oil & gas’ pipelines focusing on safety and quality. During her time with the company, Holly has studied on a part time basis and gained an MSc in Pipeline Engineering from Newcastle University.

Holly lives with her partner and 2 young sons, Joseph and Alex. Outside work Holly enjoys spending time with family & friends, and keeping fit. Her latest interest is karate where she is working towards a blue belt.


Pipelines are a really efficient way of moving oil and gas from place to place and a lot of scientific knowledge goes into building them. They need to be built to last, resist corrosion so they don’t rust and withstand high pressures so they don’t crack or burst. PII Pipeline Solutions provides an essential inspection service for pipelines to make sure they are still safe and efficient, which also requires a lot of scientific know-how.

by Jennifer Toes, Press Office Assistant at the British Science Festival 2013


This afternoon the British Science Festival was illuminated by four cognitive neuroscientists discussing their research into brain plasticity and its role in our ability to learn. Brain plasticity refers to the concept that the brain can change and remap itself over the course of our lives through learning new skills and experiencing new things.

By Lucy Bain. Lucy is a PhD student at University of East Anglia, researching how our diet can influence stroke risk and risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels. She is visiting the Festival as part of the British Science Association student bursary scheme.


On Sunday I went out to Jesmond Dene for a BioBlitz – for those that don’t know, a BioBlitz is an attempt to record as many living species (mammals, birds, plants etc.) in a given area – this case Jesmond Dene – in a 24 hour time period. So it's essentially a race to find, identify and record as much as possible!