Today was a day packed to the brim with lectures. We had one in the morning, afternoon, and night. The morning lecture I originally signed up for was cancelled for reasons unknown, so another professor informed on just as short of a notice was asked to give it his best shot.
Possibly due to the lack of time for preparation, his lecture on the Forces of Nature felt unorganised and, to a very large degree, improvised. He spoke of many things, but the single most impressive memory I have from this lecture is his talk on the reforestation of the Sahara desert. He mentioned the use of sophisticated machinery to ionise the atmosphere, which through manipulating nature generates rainstorms, and with that bringing rainfall. This is certainly a project that is full of promise for the future of our planet.
Another lecture worthy of mentioning is the night lecture given by a pathologist on the myths and truths of autopsy. She is very good with what she does, and gave us a comprehensive view of what autopsy really is, the procedures that are involved in performing one, and even gruesome details of what is often encountered. Some of pictures or slides presented were quite vomit-inducing, but overall, it was extremely insightful and eye opening. For a subject on dead people, she really gave a lively presentation.
Without people like Professor Jochen Guck, some secrets of the biological world may never be revealed. One of the conference’s emphasis is on the importance of inter-disciplinary collaboration between scientists. We learned that physicists could help biologists by finding out how to squish and pull a single cell with laser beams! This process is called optical stretcher.
Professor Guck gave a logical presentation of how this technology allows us to compare differences between normal cells and cancerous cells. The core difference is the flexibility of the cells – cancerous cells are more flexible allowing them to move around. With this knowledge, scientists can target the microstructures in the cells to keep them stiff and stop them from spreading!
An interesting talk was also given by professor Andrew Coates. Water is essential to life, and we discovered how scientists are exploring possible water reservoirs in other planets or moons. By sending space shuttles to far planets like Saturn, we can probe them with infrared radiation to look for water. And with water, there is a possibility of life… An interesting fact is that the culprit to one of Saturn’s ring (E-ring) is caused by plumes sent out from one of its many moons (Enceladus).
The evening ended with a detailed talk about pathology and more precisely – autopsies. Honestly, It was quite a scary topic. But the guest speaker really brought out the importance of the subject. It ia a quest on searching for the truth, something like a call for justice.
Visiting the science museum after lunch was a real treat. There were breathtaking models and exhibits that are unlike any other. Visiting the National Oceanography Center tomorrow, can’t wait! Although it means early breakfast at 6am!
To read more about the London International Youth Science Forum, visit www.liysf.org.uk. This trip is sponsored by British Council.