The art of science

I did have a post written about the current spring-clean, maintenance and frustration that have been occurring in the lab recently, but it somehow got lost between two computers, an external hard drive and a memory stick. So instead I decided to write about my Friday evening’s volunteering at Inspire, the interactive children’s’ science museum in Norwich. Running manic workshops for about 20 little children on topics such as ‘properties of materials’ ‘solutions and substances’ and ‘friction and forces’ whilst dressed as Medusa in a converted church at 9pm on a Friday evening.  I love it, mainly because it’s just one way to mix science with the creative side of me I’ve currently sidelined for scientific units and academic journals.

Thinking about the mix of science and the arts I realised there’s not always as large a gap as one would imagine. Take the knit a neuron project which I recently contributed to (http://knitaneuron.blogspot.com/). Knit a neuron is the brainchild, excuse the pun, of two scientist hoping to spread the word about brain injuries through a collective art project.

Even closer to home, my data analysis produces graphs that I’m trying to use to make a coherent and clear picture from my data (even if it’s just for my benefit!) and I’m not happy until I’ve fiddled with the layout, colour coded and altered the graph to make something that’s visually pleasing.

Then there’s the science cafes that I help out with. What could be a lecture in other circumstances becomes an evening’s entertainment when we take the scientist out of the institution and persuade them to talk in the comfort of a bar with comfy chairs, nice beer and plenty of time for questions.

And whilst it may not be the best star-studded, name-dropping anecdote, I did have a great day a month or so back helping out with the BBC Bang Goes the Theory roadshow, complete with TV presenters, science shows, crowds of excited children and several hundred pots of slime.

There’s always room for improvement, but right now science appears to be donning its sequins and taking to the stage. With budget cuts and belt-tightening everyone’s having to multi-task…scientific advancement and entertainment? Now that’s value for money.

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