Thursday, 19 March 2009

Calling all geeks!

March sees two weeks of heady excitement in the form of the annual Cambridge Science Festival - surely irresistible to those of us with even the vaguest nerdy tendencies. Clearly, as someone with a self declared interest in kiddie science I HAD to go along, and so did the rest of the family who were nearly as giddy as I was.

We duly boarded the Park and Ride bright and early last Saturday morning. Weekend P&R is usually to be avoided at all costs - Cambridge city centre is bad enough on a Saturday lunchtime without adding an all standing, sardine packed blue bus into the equation. But we had No Choice, it Had To Be Done.

At the Chemistry department we donned rubber gloves, lab coats and safety glasses and walked past labs emitting Organic Chem smells that whisked me right back to undergraduate days (and the outfits reminded me why I quit bench science in the first place.) We made blue goo, and green slime, and also a bagful of violently yellow silly putty:

I can't help thinking that if a child is small enough to be tempted by a bite of that, they're probably too small to read the label ...

Something we were allowed to eat was ice cream made by stirring liquid nitrogen into sweetened milk - really delicious - prepared by two charming students who encouraged small people to wave their hands in the clouds of water vapour while geeky parents tensely muttered "Don't touch the (intensely cold to the point of tissue damage) mixing bowl!!!!"

This weekend we may brave the Vet School ...


  1. Tell you what - if you wear all that protective gear to the Bloggery Picnic, we'll all know it's you!

    Or maybe not? :-D

    It sounds a fabulously fun time.


  2. My own resident geek says (and I quote) 'You can touch it if you are really quick.'

    And this is why he no longer works with 50,000 volts ;-)

  3. looks like a fun day out! my inner geek finds it all fascinating!


  4. That sounds good fun. I will look out for it next time.

  5. At this very moment watching Jimmy D (swoon!) and his experiments. There is an earthworm living somewhere in the UK called the logworm. It's 25 cm long! Sheesh!

    Loving the tales of geekery Mrs D. The vet school though? I would be worried about All Creatures Great and Small-type glove usage - eeek!

  6. Have I ever told you how fab you are Val?


    Well you are! Love all the geekiness - just wish I had a scientific brain cell in there somewhere - sadly it is not to be!

    Locket xxx

    P.S. word verification tonight is "infixabl" - sounds like my Physics O'Level result!

  7. So sad you quit the bench science -- think what a profound impact you could have had on their lab coats, armed with all of your artistic sewing ability@

  8. Oh, if only!!!! Perhaps we can join you next year...

  9. We once had a visit by the Questacon science centre to our city. The biggest hit of the night was when they froze a banana in liquid nitrogen then smashed it like it was made of glass.

    Such an exciting way to experience science!

  10. A new way to make ice cream! But on second thought maybe I should stick to my ice cream machine... K x

  11. Oh hurrah! Dry ice ice cream. My hsuband was at Cambridge and we endlessly tried to persuade his NatSci mates to bring home a flask of liquid nitrogen so that we could whip up some ice cream.

    Sadly they were all too professional / dedicated to their various causes to take the chance of being sent down.


    Looks like you had a blast though.

  12. Ohhhh, my kids would have loved that! The year 10 science electives at school have just had a CSI roadshow to visit to show the kids how to extract dna - so exciting!

  13. Wow, I would have loved to have been there

  14. It looks like so much fum... now I've just read Trashy's comment and I can't stop laughing!

  15. fum...???? I meant fun! I blame the wine.

  16. Oh wow! Homemade silly putty! Just have to get my hands on some borax solution...
    The smalls are very lucky to have such fab geeky parents!

  17. I'm don't understand all that science stuff but it looks like you day a good time!

  18. How I wish that we lived in an area with those sorts of activities!
    And the fact that it's Cambridge is making me doubly jealous -- I haven't been back for six year, and I've never had a chance to take LOML and the children to see it....


  19. I was overjoyed to think I could eat ice cream again ("ice cream made by stirring liquid nitrogen into sweetened milk") - despite my allergies. But after thinking about it, is liquid nitrogen edible? Is sweetened milk condensed milk or is it evaporated milk?
    Doesn't matter which though - because if made from cow's milk, they both have lactose.

    I wonder if coconut milk could be used instead? Or goat's milk?

    What fascinating things one runs across when surfing through blogs on the Internet! And it always leads to more questions.

    janeyknitting AT yahoo DOT ca
    (change caps to symbols, without the spaces)


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