Science Sunday on 15th June will showcase some of the amazing scientific research happening right on our doorstep, with hands-on activities and shows to entertain visitors of all ages and interests. We interviewed physicist Steven Thomson, whose show “Colder Than Scotland” will feature throughout the day.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Steven Thomson and I’m a PhD student researching theoretical condensed matter physics at the University of St Andrews. I study the quantum mechanics of how materials behave at ultra-low temperatures close to absolute zero (-273C) to try to understand what makes Nature tick.
In particular, I work on disorder and impurities in materials – we live in an imperfect world, but if we’re clever we can make use of imperfections in materials to improve their properties and design better, stronger materials of the future.
What brings you to Glasgow Science Festival this year?
I’ve taken part in other Scottish science festivals before, but somehow never Glasgow Science Festival. I’m looking forward to finally rectifying this oversight! It’s a beautiful university and a wonderful city and I can’t wait to be a part of the festival.
With the Commonwealth Games just around the corner, Glasgow is gearing up to welcome the world. What’s your top tip for visitors?
Bring an umbrella!
Favourite Scottish food and drink?
I discovered a fantastic Scottish dessert last year called a cranachan – I’d definitely recommend that anyone who hasn’t tried one should give it a go! As for Scottish drinks, it’s got to be a smoky Islay whisky for the grownups and a tot of Irn Bru for the weans.
Impress us with your favourite science fact. Or joke.
Did you know that nanotechnology has been around for a millennium? The first (accidental) use of nanotechnology was over a thousand years ago, during the Crusades. In a method lost to history, Damascus swordsmiths unknowingly stumbled upon the secret of building extraordinarily strong swords – carbon nanotubes! Even with all our tools and knowledge, modern science still can’t replicate this feat.
Join Steven for his show “Colder Than Scotland” as part of Science Sunday on 15th June. The show is free and drop-in. For show times, please visit our website.