Science of Sport

As Glasgow gears up for the Commonwealth Games, Glasgow Science Festival is the perfect opportunity to delve further into the science of our favourite sports. From public debates to “meet the expert” sessions, there’s plenty to explore. We spoke to Victoria Penpraze from the University of Glasgow about she’s up to this year.


Who are you and what do you do?  

My name is Victoria Penpraze. I’m a sport and exercise scientist and University Teacher at University of Glasgow. My main research interests include measuring physical activity levels, mostly in children, and also the mental preparation of athletes for sport. The rest of my time is spent enjoying motorsport, watching rugby and believing Ireland will win the 2015 Rugby World Cup!

What brings you to Glasgow Science Festival this year?

My Physiology & Sports Science colleagues and I have been involved with Glasgow Science Festival and Glasgow Science Centre in the past and had a great time so we’re delighted to be here again this year. This is Scotland’s year of sport, with Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games and also golf’s Ryder Cup, so it’s exciting times and a perfect opportunity for everyone to get involved with the science behind sport performance and health.

With the Commonwealth Games just around the corner, Glasgow is gearing up to welcome the world. What’s your top tip for visitors?

Walk around and explore- it’s a healthy way to experience a beautiful place.

Favourite Scottish food and drink?  My favourite Scottish food and drink has to be freshly caught west coast scallops, flash cooked and served with beautiful Stornaway black pudding and a nip of Glengoyne whisky – yum!

Impress us with your favourite science fact. Or joke.

It’s difficult to identify one stand-out scientific fact- there are so many from many different scientific disciplines. In the year of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, here are a couple of impressive sports science related facts: the peak power that Sir Chris Hoy can produce (2700watts) is equivalent to 3.7 horsepower and enough to power nearly 30PCs. Andy Murray consumes ~6000 calories per day which is equivalent to 20 cheeseburgers or 36 bowls of cornflakes or 42 bananas.

Join Victoria and friends in the Commonwealth Games Meet the Expert booth at Glasgow Science Centre on 14th and 15th June from 10:00-17:00.  Entry is with admission to the science mall, more details on the Glasgow Science Centre website.


Competition: Beer and Science

It’s competition time!

This Thursday, Glasgow Science Festival is hosting a special event in Glasgow’s favourite microbrewery, WEST. Meet the beer experts, take a behind-the-scenes tour and enjoy four delicious beer tasters.


We have a pair of tickets to give away for this delicious event!

To enter, simply tweet with the hashtag #glascifest the name of the scientist (dead or alive) YOU would like to go for a beer with. Peter Higgs? Marie Curie? All suggestions welcome!

The deadline for entering is Wednesday at 12 noon.

Glasgow Science Festival: Day 2

It’s Day 2 of Glasgow Science Festival. Brush off your whisky or zombie-induced hangover and get ready for some more science-y fun!


Enjoying some tasty science at “Malts to Molecules” in The Corinthian last night

Art collides with science in The Lighthouse today at the Images of Research exhibition. Enjoy compelling images from the world of research from 10.30am-5pm. You can also book in for the exhibition awards ceremony and reception, tonight at 5.30pm. Book online at


From 12-4pm Glasgow Caledonian University host their Research Celebration, with public talks, interactive displays and an array of activities to showcase cutting-edge research in health, engineering and business.

Later on, Drs Amanda Lucas and Lewis Dean will be asking “What makes us human?” and tracing our fascinating evolutionary journey. Join us in the University of Glasgow’s Zoology building from 6-7pm.


Finally, our sold out “Know Your Whisky” event in DRAM! will explore the science of your favourite malts.

And then it’s time for the weekend! Ooft!

Glasgow Science Festival 2014: Day One!


OH EM GEE! Glasgow Science Festival 2014 is upon us! And what a cracking lineup we have for day one.

It’s perfect museum weather, so why not head along to the Hunterian Museum for What’s Under Our Feet to discover hidden Glasgow and the Scottish Gold exhibition for a spectacular array of gold items from the Bronze Age to the present.


Over in the DRAM! tonight, the brightest lights in Scottish physics will be battling it out to impress our audience at the sold out Speed Science event.

The countdown to the Commonwealth Games has begun. To celebrate, Glasgow Science Festival is hosting a series of free, public debates around sport. The first one – “Is elite sport good for you?” – is tonight at the University of Glasgow, with a panel of sport experts and host BBC Scotland’s John Beattie.


John Scouler was a 19th century Scottish naturalist and one of the first to visit the Galapagos during his voyage to the Pacific. Learn more about his fascinating journey at Home and Abroad with John Scouler tonight in the University of Glasgow’s Zoology department.


If you’re more into unnatural than natural history then don’t miss Zombie Science: Brain of the Dead in The Admiral Bar tonight. Uncover the dark complexity of the zombie brain in this brand new interactive lecture from the Zombie Institute for Theoretical Studies, then pitch your questions to our expert panel of (living) brains.


Fancy a dram or three in the name of science? Tasty Science: Malts and Molecules will present guests with delicious malt whiskies, science of taste experiments, molecular cocktails and paired canapés. A fabulous way to spend a Thursday night if ever we heard one!


For more information and booking visit our website at

Science, a Swally and How to Cure that Sair Heid

Drinking this Friday night? Bring your hangover to the “Hangover Hypothesis” on Saturday afternoon and discover how science can curb the cocktail-flu! Dr Angus Bancroft from the University of Edinburgh will be sharing some peer-reviewed tips.


Who are you and what do you do?

I’m a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh.

What brings you to Glasgow Science Festival this year?

Ali Floyd asked me to talk about drinking rituals at The Hangover Hypothesis.  It’s a great way of learning about chemistry, biology, psychology and sociology, and of helping those most in need of it.

With the Commonwealth Games just around the corner, Glasgow is gearing up to welcome the world. What’s your top tip for visitors?

Glasgow has a unique sense of humour – surreal and wry at the same time – for an example of that see the statue of Sheriff Lobey Dosser on Woodlands Road.

Favourite Scottish food and drink?

Food – A white pudding supper, eaten with your fingers when walking home from the pub with your friends. You will need to go to Edinburgh to get it in the proper style with salt’n’sauce though.

Drink – Moray Cup – mainly found around Banffshire. Very happy memories of staying at my Granny and Grandad’s in Cullen.

Impress us with your favourite science fact. Or joke.

During the 1950s and 60s LSD was explored as a – quite effective – treatment for alcoholism.

Join Angus and friends from the Edinburgh International Science Festival at the “Hangover Hypothesis” in DRAM! at 2pm on Saturday 7th June. Tickets include a full cooked breakfast (veggie options available) plus a Bloody Mary cocktail. Book online.

A Dram of Science

Science is for everyone – and it’s never too late to learn something new.  This Saturday, Open Science comes to Glasgow Science Festival, offering pub goers the chance to dip their toe into the world of science. Discover how bubbles in a glass of beer have influenced particle physics and detection of molecules in space. Or how biologists have uncovered a range of species that enjoy a tipple too! Dr Dominic McCafferty tells us more.


Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Dominic McCafferty, Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow. I teach on a number of programmes in the Centre for Open Studies and Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine. My main research interest is the thermal biology of cold adaptation in animals.

What brings you to Glasgow Science Festival this year?

I am keen to promote opportunities for lifelong learning for adults through the Centre for Open Studies. We run a wide range of courses in biology, earth sciences, physics and astronomy in evenings and weekends.

These courses provide great opportunities for studying part-time, undertaking practical field-courses or in future preparation for University study.

We will be running Open Science: a taster session on Sat 7 June at Dram, Woodlands Road: 16:30-17:30.

With the Commonwealth Games just around the corner, Glasgow is gearing up to welcome the world. What’s your top tip for visitors?

There’s no such thing as bad weather… just the wrong clothing

Favourite Scottish food and drink?

Campbeltown Cheddar Cheese and a pint of Trade Winds Real Ale (Aviemore Brewery)

Impress us with your favourite science fact. Or joke.

Emperor penguins experience one of the most severe environments on Earth. It is the only species of bird breeding during the Antarctic winter, where air temperature may reach as low as -40 deg C and wind speed as high as 40 m/s.

Join Dominic in the DRAM! this Saturday 7th June from 16:30-17:30. Book your free ticket online

From the Amazon to the Laboratory

The Amazonian Rainforest in South America is the largest and most biodiverse rainforest in the world. An estimated 438,000 plant species of economic and social value have been recorded in the region, with many more yet to be discovered. 6000 miles away in Glasgow, researchers at the University of Strathclyde are working in the exciting field of drug discovery based on rainforest products.

AIG photo

Who are you and what do you do?

We’re Professor Sandy Gray and Dr Ann Simpson from SIBS at the University of Strathclyde.

Sandy teaches pharmacy-related subjects and does research with folk around the world in order to discover what plants contain that makes them useful medicines/foods to keep us healthy.

Ann is a teaching fellow with research interests in traditional indigenous methods of conservation of the Amazon rainforest, traditional indigenous medicine and herbal medicine.

What brings you to Glasgow Science Festival this year?

We’ll be presenting a family event based on 25 years of interdisciplinary research working with the indigenous wisepeople of the Amazon forest, Colombia, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador.

Join us for a virtual visit to the Amazon forest to find out about wise people’s knowledge of survival in the forest, from daily life to health care and forest science.

With the Commonwealth Games just around the corner, Glasgow is gearing up to welcome the world. What’s your top tip for visitors?

Ignore the weather and enjoy some of Glasgow’s hidden treasures such as the ancient forest (made in the tropics ca. 450million yrs ago!) in Fossil Grove Museum, Victoria Park.

Favourite Scottish food and drink?

Scones, granny’s homemade pancakes…… also haggis, neeps & tatties with a splash of good Whisky to add moisture to the haggis!!

Impress us with your favourite science fact. Or joke.

The root of the Yuca (Manihot esculenta) plant forms a staple part of the diet of the Uitoto and other indigenous tribes in the Amazon forest. Some varieties of yuca have an extremely poisonous content which has to be removed by a special process or the community can be poisoned.

Did you know that chocolate comes from a tree that originated in the Amazon Rainforest?

Join Sandy, Ann and friends for the Strathclyde Science Special and embark on your own rainforest adventure this weekend from 10:00-16:00 at the John Arbuthnott Building, Cathedral Street. All events are free and drop-in.