Nicky's Blog / Students Blogs

Day three at the festival with Nicky

I apologise for this and the following delayed blogs for the days of the BSF. It has been such a crazy manic week with limited computer access I’ve just been too busy having fun.

Day three began with a talk on whether solar energy can save the world. As you can in the image, with our current usage, our supplies with last a long time. But what about our children, and grandchildren? Can we really do nothing and leave it for them to sort out? The negative effects are nothing we haven’t known for over 100 years; in 1896 a scientist predicted the continual burning of coal would result in global warming and it was ignored. Of course there are many options of renewable fuel sources, the tides, hydroelectricity, wind, geothermal. But the absolute maximum any of these can ever produce is 12 TW; the global usage is 15TW a year. But solar, that can provide us with 120,000 TW a year. Considerably more than we would ever need. Solar panels are under continuous research, making them more efficient, cheaper and more available. So can solar energy save the world? I would support, yes.

The following talk was about another potential source of renewable energy. Harnessing the heat contained in rocks beneath our feet. There is a suprisingly large amount of stored heat in rocks, absorbed from the sun. On average rocks can be about 11*C. By harnessing this heat we can heat our homes. Yes I know, we want our homes alot warmer than 11*C. By using a liquid with a low boiling point we can harness the heat from the rock. The liquid will heat and become gaseous, this will pass through a compressor to increase the heat and then be passed directly into our homes. The gas looses heat to home, returning to the liquid state to start the process again. Personnaly, I cannot see this technology becoming mainstream when compared to the promise of success in solar energy.

 

Next on the programme was a fun talk about Bubbles Beyond the Bath. Helen Czerski of the University of Southampton spends her time studying bubbles and their importance in our world. Bubbles are everywhere, in our drinks, baths, food, waves and storms. Bubbles are particularly important in the ocean a layer between the water surface and air. The bubbles act as a gas exchanger of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen between the air and water. An interesting new line of therapy is currently being researched for the use of bubbles in drug target therapy. Chemicals of hydrophobic quality are transported as part of the bubbles which ‘burst’ at the point of treatment. This helps to avoid negative effects of the drugs in other areas of the body.

The evening consisted of the president of the British Science Association discussing a topic of his choice, being: Doing the right thing. This was an interesting insight into the arguments surrounding health issues such as obesity; how this can be tackled economically, behaviourally and pschologically. This was followed by a unique event entitled Rocket Lolly. A strange but fascinating viewing of videos from early 1900’s including a video of what people in 1935 thought the world would be like in 1950’s. They didn’t quite get it right.

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