microbelog

blogging the latest developments in microbiology

Archive for the ‘Event’ Category

Microbelog on tour: CosmoCaixa, Barcelona

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Last week, my pals and I spent a long weekend in Barcelona visiting the awesome Primavera Sound music festival. The rather nocturnal nature of the event (bands playing from 18.00 to 04.00) gave us plenty of time during the day to sleep on the beach drink excessively visit some of the beautiful sights of one of Europe’s most vibrant cities.

So what did we see? Gaudí’s majestic Sagrada Família? The magnificent Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona? Nope, we went to a science museum. Nerds: that’s how we roll.

CosmoCaixa, Barcelona’s science museum, is amazing and well worth checking out if you’ve a spare few hours on holiday. It has more hands-on exhibits than you can shake a stick at and comes complete with an indoor rainforest. Beat that, London Science Museum.

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Written by Benjamin Thompson

19/06/2012 at 9:00 am

Posted in Event

Event review: The Xenotext

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Christian Bök

Sometimes I get invitations that are just too intriguing to pass up. Last month I was lucky enough to visit the Whitechapel Gallery in London to hear a talk by Dr Christian Bök (left), an experimental Canadian poet who’s been working with bacteria to get them to do something pretty special.

Last year I was sitting on the science floor of the British Library (procrastinating) when I read that Craig Venter had encoded a line from James Joyce’s novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man into the genome of his ‘synthetic lifeform’: “To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life.” I thought this was pretty neat.

Dr Bök has taken this idea and run with it. He explained how he has been engineering a bacterium to be the storage vessel for a poem but, at the same time, be a poet itself. The project is called the ‘Xenotext’. Confused? Stick with me, and I’ll do my best to explain it.

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Written by Benjamin Thompson

16/08/2011 at 9:20 am

Posted in Event

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Event Review: Crafty little bacteria

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A species unknown to science

Last week I had the pleasure of attending an event mixing craftwork with bacteriology. It sounds like an odd combination, but was in fact the latest in a series of outreach events organised by Science London.

Joining 50 other people in London’s Drink, Shop & Do cafe, I arrived with my pals from the British Science Association to find tables festooned with felt, thread, and glitter. Our task was to create a bacterium from what was available to us. You can see some of our efforts in the photos below; mine is the expertly crafted blue circle with glued-on eyes and multi-coloured flagella. Prizes were available for the best creation. I did not win a prize. The winner did use some purple thread to Gram-stain his effort, which I thought was rather clever.

In addition to the craft, there was a quiz all about microbiology. I did not win the quiz. I got over my embarrassment with the aid of G&T pecan pie, so all was well…

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Written by Benjamin Thompson

30/06/2011 at 12:15 pm

Event Review: How Carlisle Sewage Works saved your life.

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Quentin Cooper and Hugh Pennington stand in front of Lister's Carbolic Spray

I’m pretty lucky to work at the Wellcome Trust. We always have excellent events about science or the history of medicine. This month was no different. I went to the first in a series of talks held at Wellcome Collection called ‘The Thing Is…’, hosted by Quentin Cooper from Radio 4′s Material World. The event invites a guest speaker to describe the history behind a single object found within Wellcome Collection’s vast archives.

Our speaker this month was Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen. The object he chose to describe was a device for spraying carbolic acid, dating back to around 1875, designed by Joseph Lister. Professor Pennington used the machine to describe the history of antisepsis, early microbiology and surgery.

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Written by Benjamin Thompson

27/06/2011 at 9:09 am