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Sparks fly in National Science Week

Where do you inherit your hair colour from? What’s inside your mobile phone? How does memory work? What would you look like if you had been born in the opposite sex? And, most bizarre of all, do chickens prefer beautiful humans?

These questions – and many more – will be answered when National Science Week comes to St Andrews next month (10-19 March 2006). The annual event celebrates science and its importance to our lives. All events are free of charge and designed to appeal to all ages.

The focal point of the week is the Science Discovery Day on Saturday 18 March. Visitors will get the chance to learn about the secret life of diving animals, stargazing, the contents of toothpaste, eye shadow and mobile phones, step inside a giant soap bubble and morph their face into that of the opposite sex.

Full details listed below – or visits www.the-ba.net/nsw or www.st-andrews.ac.uk

IG NOBEL TOUR: FIRST YOU LAUGH, THEN YOU THINK –

Do chickens prefer beautiful humans? When do trousers explode? What happens when locusts watch Star Wars? The Ig Nobel tour comes to St Andrews. Find out what the Ig Nobel prizes are and hear from some of the winners of the least reputable awards in science. Health warning: Ig Nobel prize winning research is shocking and not for the faint-hearted or children.

Venue: Lower College Hall, North Street, University of St Andrews Date: 13 March 2006 Time: 19:00 – 21:00 Free but obtain tickets from Charles Paxton. Contact: Dr Charles Paxton on 01334 461811 or Email: cgp2@st- andrews.ac.uk Organiser: Café Scientifique and CREEM Web: www.improbable.com/ig/ig- top.html

SNOWBALL EARTH – ICE, LIFE AND CLIMATE CHANGE IN DEEP TIME –

Earth has experienced many episodes of extreme climate change. The Hollywood film “The Day after Tomorrow” depicts a world experiencing catastrophic global climate collapse but the storyline pales in comparison to what Earth scientists think happened to Earth many hundreds of millions of years ago when the entire planet may have been engulfed in ice. But, out of this global ice age it is thought that life, as we know it, emerged. Come and hear about the Earth’s climate and biological system in Deep Time. Venue: Lecture Theatre School II, St Salvator’s Quagrangle, North Street Date: 14 March 2006 Time: 18:00 to 19:00 Free and open to everyone. Contact: Dr Ruth Robinson on 01334 463996 or Email: rajr@st- andrews.ac.uk Organiser: School of Geography & Geosciences

THE GENETICS OF RED HAIR –

Have you ever wondered why some people have “red”, “ginger” or “strawberry blond” hair! How does this happen and who do you inherit your hair colour from? Why not come and discuss these questions over a coffee in very informal surroundings. This event is supported by Café Scientifique – check out their website to see how you can be involved in this public scientific forum. Venue: Costa Coffee, Market Street Date: 15 March 2006 Time: 19:00 Free and open to all the family Contact: Dr Lorna Sibbett on 01334 463604 or Email: lrs2@st- andrews.ac.uk Organiser: Café Scientifique and the School of Biology Web: www.cafescientifique.org

SIMON SINGH: BRINGING SCIENCE TO A SCHOOL NEAR YOU! –

Author of The Code Book and most recently The Big Bang, which tells the story of the cosmologists who invented the Big Bang theory and the astronomers who made the observations that eventually proved that it was true. Simon Singh is an internationally respected author and broadcaster specialising in making science accessible to people of all ages. Venue: Purdie Lecture Theatre A, North Haugh, St Andrews Date: 17 March 2006 Time: 13:00 to 14:00 Free and open to all, no pre booking is required. Contact: Dr Lorna Sibbett on 01334 463604 or or Email: lrs2@st- andrews.ac.uk Organiser: School of Biology Web: www.simonsingh.net

SCIENCE DISCOVERY DAY: 18 MARCH 2006, 11:00 – 17:00

The following events are all part of our Science Discovery Day. Most of the activities and events are hosted in the School of Physics & Astronomy building on the North Haugh where there is plenty of free car parking. Our observatories with their telescopes on Buchanan Gardens will also be open for you to look through. On the same day (18 March 2006) in the centre of the town, the fascinating Bell-Pettigrew Museum, located in the Bute Medical Buildings, South Street will be open from 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm. Most of the events are hands-on and are aimed at school pupils (primary and secondary) as well as adults.

THE BELL-PETTIGREW MUSEUM: A NATURAL HISTORY COLLECTION –

This is a rare opportunity to visit the University’s Bell- Pettigrew Natural History Museum. Here you will find exhibitions and specimens from throughout the world including extinct species such as the Tasmanian Wolf and other rare birds and mammals. The fossil fishes of Dura Den will be on display with knowledgeable staff on hand to explain the significance and nature of this fascinating collection.

Venue: Bell-Pettigrew Museum, Bute Medical Buildings, South Street. Date: 18 March 2006 Time: 13:00 – 17:00 Free and open to all the family Contact: Dr Martin Milner on 01334 463608 or Email: mjm5@st- andrews.ac.uk Organiser: School of Biology Web: http://biology.st- and.ac.uk/sites/bellpet/index.html

WHAT AHAB NEVER SAW: THE SECRET LIFE OF DIVING MAMMALS –

Until recently, the underwater lives of whales, dolphins and seals were largely unknown but new technology allows us to see into the deep, often very dark underwater world of the oceans, understand thse animals’ amazing diving capabilities and the complex nature of their societies. Find out how their world beneath the waves is explored.

Venue: School of Physics and Astronomy, North Haugh, St Andrews Date: 18 March 2006 Time: 11:00 to 16:00 Free and open to all the family Contact: Dr Paddy Pomeroy on 01334 463061 or Email: pp6@st- andrews.ac.uk Organiser: NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit and the Gatty Marine Laboratory

STAR GAZING –

The University’s Astronomical Observatory will be open to the public. Visitors may see the telescopes and displays, and interact with professional astronomers. If the sky is clear visitors may view interesting objects in the night sky through the telescopes.

Venue: University Observatory, off Buchanan Gardens in the University playing fields Date: 18 March 2006 Time: 11:00 to 16:00 Free and open to all Contact: Bruce Sinclair on 01334 463100 or Email: physics@st- andrews.ac.uk Organiser: School of Physics and Astronomy Web: http://www.st- andrews.ac.uk/physics/

SLIME! –

Have a go at making your very own slime or ‘goo’! Choose your own colour! Mix the ingredients and watch with amazement as before your very eyes the slime goes from being very runny to very slimy. Slime is an example of a long- chain molecule called a polymer which can be found in plastics. (Slime is non-toxic but the food colourings may stain your clothes and hands.) Venue: School of Physics and Astronomy, North Haugh, St Andrews Date: 18 March 2006 Time: 11:00 to 16:00 Free and open to all the family Contact: Dr Joe Crayston and Dr Nigel Botting on 01334 46 3800 or Email: chemistry@st-and.ac.uk Organiser: School of Chemistry

MOLECULAR LEGO –

Have a go at making your own molecules using a special kind of Lego used in chemistry at university. It is surprisingly easy to make molecules by snapping the atoms and bonds together. Choose the molecule you want to build from our list of suggested molecules found in food, perfumes and medicines. Or make your own molecule! Unfortunately, you can’t take your model home, but before taking it to bits you can have your picture taken with it – free! Venue: School of Physics and Astronomy, North Haugh, St Andrews Date: 18 March 2006 Time: 11:00 to 16:00 Free and open to all the family Contact: Dr Joe Crayston and Dr Nigel Botting on 01334 46 3800 or Email: chemistry@st-and.ac.uk Organiser: School of Chemistry

MOBILE PHONES, MAKE-UP AND MINERALS –

Rocks and minerals are part of our everyday lives. From the moment you wake up to the time you go to bed your life is dependent on materials from the Earth. For instance, what minerals are in toothpaste? What is inside your mobile phone? What is eye shadow made of? Why is titanium so useful for bike frames and bone reconstruction? Come and take part in the hands-on display of minerals, their special properties and their many uses. Bring your own minerals along and we’ll identify them for you. Venue: Physical Sciences Building, North Haugh, St Andrews Date: 18 March 2006 Time: 11:00 to 16:00 Free and open to everyone. Contact: Dr Ruth Robinson on 01334 463996 or Email: rajr@st- andrews.ac.uk Organiser: School of Geography & Geosciences

Web: www.st-andrews.ac.uk/gg

THE PLANETARIUM –

As part of St Andrews University’s Science Discovery Day you can crawl into our portable planetarium and see the night sky in the middle of the day! One of our astronomers will act as your guide to the constellations and the planets, and show you the night sky and how it changes from dusk to dawn. This show will run up to 4 times with up to 20 people per showing. Venue: School of Physics and Astronomy, North Haugh, St Andrews Date: 18 March 2006 Time: 11:00 to 16:00 Free and open to all the family. Contact: School of Physics and Astronomy on 01334 463100 or Email: physics@st-andrews.ac.uk Organisers: University of St Andrews, School of Physics and Astronomy Web: http://star-www.st- and.ac.uk/~fv/roadshow/planetarium. html

TRY YOUR HAND AT SCIENCE –

Can you get yourself inside a giant soap bubble? At this event you can step into a kaleidoscope, explore the science of music and see what happens when things get so cold that air turns into a liquid, and much more. Most of these are run as drop-in activities that you can take part in. These are just some of the many activities available at the Science Discovery Day. All are welcome. Venue: School of Physics and Astronomy, North Haugh, St Andrews Date: 18 March 2006 Time: 11:00 to 16:00 Free and open to all the family Contact: School of Physics & Astronomy on 01334 463100 or Email: physics@st-andrews.ac.uk Organisers: School of Physics and Astronomy Web: http://www.st- andrews.ac.uk/physics/

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF EVERYDAY LIFE –

If the word Psychology makes you think of Freud and psychoanalysis then you are under the same misapprehension as most of the population! Psychology is a living, breathing science that tries to explain the world around us. Why are we fooled by visual illusions? How does memory work? Do I make my own choices or can my behaviour be controlled by others? The format of the day includes a series of interactive demonstrations and quizzes. These activities have been put together by members of staff and our third year students and offer an opportunity for them to discuss and illustrate the wide range of topics and areas in which psychology has made considerable progress. Venue: School of Physics and Astronomy, North Haugh, St Andrews Date: 18 March 2006 Time: 11:00 to 16:00 Free and open to all the family. Contact: School of Psychology on 01334 462075 or Email: plg@st- andrews.ac.uk Organisers: School of Psychology Web: http://psy.st-andrews.ac.uk/

VOLCANO MAPPING –

As part of St Andrews University’s Science Discovery Day you can hear from a scientist who’s research has involved designing a special radar system for mapping the domes of volcanoes through the cloud and smoke. You can hear about and see his field-trip to map the growing volcano at Montserrat. You will also be able to see the system in action mapping out the North Haugh remotely. Venue: School of Physics and Astronomy, North Haugh, St Andrews Date: 18 March 2006 Time: 11:00 to 16:00 Free and open to all the family Contact: David Macfarlane on 01334 463100 or Email: physics@st- andrews.ac.uk Organisers: School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of St Andrews Web: http://www.st- andrews.ac.uk/~mmwave/mmwave/avtis. shtml

SMELLY GAS COULD MEAN DANGER! HOW TO TRACE GAS LEAKS –

As part of St Andrews University’s Science Discovery Day you can hear from a scientist who’s research has involved designing a special laser system that looks for leaks of natural gas. This system works in the infra-red and sends out pulses of laser light that are strongly absorbed by the gas that normally goes to our fires and cookers. Dave will demonstrate the system in action, including its use in detecting “secret writing”!

Venue: School of Physics and Astronomy, North Haugh, St Andrews Date: 18 March 2006 Time: 11:00 to 16:00 Free and open to all the family Contact: Dave Stothard, on 01334 463100 or Email: physics@st- andrews.ac.uk Organisers: School of Physics and Astronomy Web: www.st-andrews.ac.uk/physics/

FACE MORPHING –

Local company FifeX has worked with psychology researchers in St Andrews to produce a computer system that can take an image of your face and let you see what you might have looked like had you been male or female, and what you may look like at different ages. Try it and see! Venue: School of Physics and Astronomy, North Haugh, St Andrews Date:18 March 2006 Time: 11:00 to 16:00 Free and open to all the family Contact: Kenny Boyd on 01334 477733 Organisers: FifeX with the University of St Andrews Web: http://www.fifex.co.uk

COUNTING WHALES –

As part of St Andrews University’s Science Discovery Day you can discover how scientists estimate the number of whales in the world’s seas and oceans and play a computer game which simulates an actual marine mammal survey. Venue: School of Physics and Astronomy, North Haugh, St Andrews Date: 18 March 2006 Time: 11:00 – 16:00 Free and open to all the family Contact: Dr Charles Paxton on 01334 461811 or Email: cgp2@st- andrews.ac.uk Organiser: CREEM

DEGREES OF SCIENCE –

Thinking of doing a degree in Science? The University of St Andrews is one of the UK’s top universities offering a wide range of science degrees; from Astronomy right through to Zoology as well as: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geography, Geosciences, Mathematics, Neuroscience, Statistics, Sustainable Development, Medicine, Physics and Psychology. Comprehensive information and literature on all our study opportunities at UG and PG level will be available from Admissions during National Science Week and for the rest of the year. Venue: Admissions, St Katharine’s West, The Scores Time: 09:00 – 17:00 Information: 01334 463324 or Email: student.recruitment@st- andrews.ac.uk Web: www.st- andrews.ac.uk/admissions

ENDS

Issued by Beattie Media – www.beattiegroup.com On behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information, please contact Claire Grainger, Press Officer – 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk; Ref: press releases/NSW2006 View the latest University news at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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