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25/12/2014

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x-change blog - day 1

x-change volunteer Estelle Cheuk share's her thoughts on the first day of this year's x-change show

A massive hello from this year's x-change Team at the British Science Festival!  Come join us as we bring you all of the festival's best bits and pieces all the way from Newcastle!   

2013's first x-change got off to one x-citing start.  Helen Arney, undoubtedly one of the festival's most prevalent guests this year, opened our show at McKenna's cafe in the Northern Stage - this year's home of the x-change. Ukulele in tow, she entertained our audience with a song all about Boron.

Next up, Richard invited Hugh Hunt to the stage.  Hugh Hunt, a senior lecturer in engineering at the University of Cambridge, joined us to discuss his thoughts and ideas on geoengineering - or as he, perhaps more aptly, put it 'climate engineering'.  He discussed and demonstrated, by aid of a rather disobedient yellow balloon and a string attached to his ankle, how scientists like him are developing technologies to control our climate.

Reckon humans could live to be 1000 years old?  Our third guest, Aubrey de Grey, thinks so. Aubrey took to the stage next to explain what his latest project,  SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence), plans to do in order to prevent and cure ageing and what implications this massive extension to life expectancy could have on our population.

Prior to presenting this year's Charles Darwin Award Lecture, Michael Sweet, Research Associate at Newcastle University, got stuck in at the x-change.  He passed  bleached coral samples around the audience and talked to us about his recent research on coral reef disease.

To mix things up a bit Matt 'Number Ninja' Parker, stand-up mathematician and one third of the Festival of the Spoken Nerd, was up next; he wowed our audience with some impressive card tricks.

Nick Hawes, Senior Lecturer in Intelligent Robotics at the University of Birmingham, was our 6th  guest.  Nick argues that it is possible to build intelligent robots that may well become integral, common and perhaps even essential parts of our future society.  However, he wasn’t alone at the show.  Dora the Robot came along too and we decided she should be an honorary member of the x-change team for the day…seeing as she wore our bright pink tees so well.

From robots to dinosaurs, Phil Manning of the University of Manchester and Research Associate at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in Colorado (USA), was then welcomed on stage.  He chatted about arguably one of the most remarkable dinosaur fossils ever discovered and how this magnificent preservation of two dinosaurs locked in eternal battle may sell for some 9 million dollars.

You can’t have an x-change without a competition.  We challenged today’s audience to think up some of their best, and of course most accurate, science chat up lines.  The winning line was ingeniously conjured up by one of our very own x-change team members, Jess and went  like this - “Would there be any resistance if I took you ohm?” – you can thank us later…

Finally, making her second appearance on today’s exchange, Helen Arney wrapped up the show with a very fitting song all about the future’s greatest gesture of love  - cryogenically freezing your other half. 

So that’s that from 2013’s first x-change.

See you tomorrow for another jammed pack lunch time.    

Back to the x-change