Five minutes with… Brynley Pearlstone

Brynley Pearlstone is a PhD student in the University of Glasgow’s Institute for Gravitational Research. Last year, he shared his experiences of chasing gravitational waves with the ‘Chasing the Waves’ team, and also took part in Q&A sessions with hundreds of school children. Today he stopped for a chat with the GSF blog!

bryn

I am Brynley Pearlstone, and I am a Ph.D student, researching ways to analyse data from the LIGO experiment, in order to find very weak but longer lasting gravitational waves from rapidly rotating neutron stars.

2. How long have you been researching gravitational waves?

About 2 and a half years now

3. What’s the best bit about being a scientist?  And the worst bit?

The best bit about being a scientist? Well, there are a few. The people you meet, the hands you shake, and the scientists you work with are great people, often with closely shared interests, quick thinkers, and good chat. And you get to meet these people from all over the world as well!

The worst part is probably when you’re telling somebody else that you’re a research student, some of the responses are “Oh, so you’re still at school?” with a little laugh. That isn’t great.

4. How were you involved with ‘Chasing the Waves?’

When the team behind Chasing the Waves was getting going, I was asked to have a chat with them about some time that I had spent at one of the LIGO sites. I sat in front of an iPad as it recorded me, and chatted with some of the people involved.

5. What did you think of the show?

I really enjoyed the show! Some of the in-jokes were great, particularly the “Stock Response” skit. My experience of being at the site rang true in parts of how the show portrayed it.

6. Tell us your favourite science joke or fact.

how_many_people_did_you_lie_to

Five minutes with… Prof Jim Hough

Our new show, ‘Chasing the Waves‘, funded by the STFC, uses music and comedy to explore how Glasgow scientists contributed to one of the biggest discoveries of the century: the detection of gravitational waves.

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Prof Jim Hough

Professor Jim Hough has been at the heart of gravitational wave research for decades. He has also been at the heart of ‘Chasing the Waves‘, sharing his stories and expertise with the creative team to help develop the show. We grabbed five minutes for a chat  about his involvement.

1. Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Jim Hough, experimental physicist. I work on suspensions, mirror coatings etc. for next generation gravitational wave detectors

2. How long have you been researching gravitational waves?

Since 1971

3. What’s the best bit about being a scientist?  And the worst bit?

Best bit – the thrill of solving problems

Worst bit – doing the admin

4. How were you involved with ‘Chasing the Waves?’

Wearing a wig and behaving like an idiot. You can watch Jim in our music video here.

5. What did you think of the show?

Excellent

6. Tell us your favourite science joke or fact.

The lion and the rabbit

Cosmic Cabaret: Behind the Scenes Part II

Back in June, our ‘Cosmic Cabaret: Peake into Space’ event blended science with music, poetry and comedy, with support from the Institute of Physics.

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Becky and colleagues chat to comedian Gemma Flynn about research

 

One of the scientists involved in the project was Becky Douglas, who stopped for a chat with the blog!

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Becky Douglas

 

1. Who are you and where do you work?

 I am Becky Douglas, a PhD student/Research Assistant at the University of Glasgow, where I work as a member of the Institute for Gravitational Research

2. What was your involvement with the Cosmic Cabaret night?

I spoke with musicians and artists about what it’s like to be a scientist, the research I do on a day-to-day basis and how rewarding scientific research can be

3. Can you explain your research (in simple terms!)?

My PhD was on gravitational wave detectors. Gravitational waves a ripples in spacetime caused by huge events like colliding black holes. They were predicted by Einstein but it wasn’t until September 2016 (nearly exactly 100 years later) that they were finally detected. As a PhD student my work was to develop materials that will go into new, even more sensitive detectors which will allow us to detect even more astrophysical events.

4. What’s your favourite thing about your job?

My favourite thing about my job is when an experiment works and you find out something new for the first time. For a very brief period, you’re the first person in the world to know something. That’s a really exciting moment.

5. Impress us with your favourite science fact.

350 million years ago a day was less than 23 hours long

You can watch some of the footage from the Cosmic Cabaret night on our YouTube channel. A big thanks to Becky and the other researchers for getting involved in this unique project!

Drugs on Trial

Drug doping in sport remains a huge issue which has plagued the headlines in recent weeks. To explore the issue, this year’s Glasgow Science Festival features a special event with a comedian, lawyers, athlete, pharmacologist, sociologist and doctors discussing whether or not drugs in sport should be legalised. Event organiser, GP and Masters student Fran Taylor had a chat with the blog.

lucia at fountain

  1. Who are you and what do you do?

    I am Frances Taylor, a general medical practitioner in Lanarkshire, currently doing a Masters degree in Sport and Exercise Science and Medicine at Glasgow University and moonlighting as an opera singer Picture is from last week’s performance as Lucia di Lammermoor.

    2. What brings you to Glasgow Science Festival this year?

    I am involved in helping organise the public engagement event ” Drugs in Sport : The Trial” for my Masters project along with Dr. Jason Gill, Mr. Nairn Scobie and  Dr. Deborah McNeill and Dr. Zara Gladman of GSF.

    3. 2016 is Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. What innovation could you not live without?

    Digital radio-I’m addicted to crime (drama) !

    4. It’s Glasgow Science Festival’s 10th birthday! We’ll be celebrating with some science-themed cake and balloons. What’s your birthday treat of choice?

    My daughter made me a wonderful Turkish Delight inspired sponge cake for Mother’s Day which would be hard to beat!

    5. And finally: impress us with your favourite science fact or joke.

    One for Zara: Igneous is bliss but being sedimentary is not gneiss

    And for Debbie: Biology is the only science in which multiplication is the same as division

Join Fran and special guests tonight for Drugs in Sport: The Trial, 7pm in the Boyd Orr Building. Tickets are free and can be booked online.

 

Renewable Energy Physics

Glasgow Science Festival aims to inspire people of all ages about science, including the next generation of scientists and engineers, through our free schools programme. This programme is delivered by real-life, practising scientists including Clara, Daria and George from Glasgow Caledonian University.

1. Who are you and what do you do?

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Clara: My name is Clara Hollomey, I am a PhD student at the Audio department of Glasgow Caledonian University. My research focuses on investigating how the hearing impaired perceive music.

Daria

Daria: I am Daria Freier, a first year PhD student at Glasgow Caledonian University. My research project is finding a design for a concentrator (a lens which focuses light) which can be used to make small portable solar systems, like solar lamps and solar chargers, more efficient.

George

George: I am George Loumakis and I am a lecturer and researcher in Glasgow Caledonian University. I teach various modules that have to do with renewable energy, energy in buildings, energy resources etc. Chances are that if something contains the word energy I am somehow involved. My research focuses mostly on solar energy for the time being.

2. What brings you to Glasgow Science Festival this year

Clara: I just like making sound.

Daria: I am always keen and happy to communicate the potential of science and of renewable energy in particular to students who will shape the future.

George: I love every form of science communication and i think it’s time that us academics got out of our nice little bubble and started interacting with the public more.

3. 2016 is Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. What innovation could you not live without?

Clara: I could not live without the internet. Having the knowledge of the world at my everyday disposal is pure luxury.

Daria: The best innovation for me are airplanes. Without the fast way of travelling we would not be able to see the world as we can right now.

George: I agree 100% with what Clara says about the internet.

4. It’s Glasgow Science Festival’s 10th birthday! We’ll be celebrating with some science-themed cake and balloons. What’s your birthday treat of choice?

Clara: This would probably be a Dobos-Torte (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dobos_torte). Chocolate and caramel thinly layered. For what more can you ask?

Daria: Cake!

George: My world famous triple chocolate fudgy cookies. Bring me a bowl the size of a room and i can feed the whole festival if need be.

5. And finally: impress us with your favourite science fact or joke.

Clara: An optimist sees a glass half full. A pessimist sees it half empty. An engineer sees it twice as large as it needs to be.

Daria: How many software engineers does it take to change a light bulb? None. They wouldn’t do it. It’s a hardware problem.

George: Some years ago I left Greece to come to Scotland to study solar energy. Fact, joke or both, you decide.

Clara, Daria and George are leading ‘Renewable Energy Physics’, free workshops for school pupils with hands-on experiments to explore this growing field. For more information, visit the website.

Green Biotech?

Can you be ‘green’ and in favour of genetic engineering? That’s the question under scrutiny at this year’s Café Scientifique, led by the Royal Society of Biology and the Biochemical Society. We had a chat with one of the panelists, Dr Louise Horsfall from the University of Edinburgh.

1. Who are you and what do you do?

Louise Horsfall

I am a synthetic biologist and lecturer in biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh

louisehorsfall

Photo: Copyright (c) Peter Tuffy Photography/Edinburgh Research and Innovation Ltd.

 

2. What brings you to Glasgow Science Festival this year?

I’m taking part in the free Glasgow Café Scientifique event ‘Can we give biotech the green light?’ organised by the Biochemical Society and the Royal Society of Biology.

It’s being held in the Victorian Bar at the Tron Theatre, so I’m expecting quite a lively discussion about the pros and cons of modern biotechnology.

3. 2016 is Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. What innovation could you not live without?

Vaccinations, I’d likely be dead by now if I hadn’t received any.

4. It’s Glasgow Science Festival’s 10th birthday! We’ll be celebrating with some science-themed cake and balloons. What’s your birthday treat of choice?

Birthday cake for breakfast, it’s only once a year and I swear it makes it taste even better!

5. And finally: impress us with your favourite science fact or joke.

I’m not too good at remembering jokes, and certainly not science ones.

What do you call a teletubbie that’s been burgled?

….a tubbie

Technology based jokes count, right?

Listen to Louise and other panelists at ‘Café Scientifique: Can We Give New Biotech the Green Light?’ on Monday 13 June, 19:00-21:00 in the Tron Theatre. The event is FREE and no booking is required. For more details, visit our website.

Bugs in the Pub

Some of the best chats happen in the pub! So why not throw some science into the mix? ‘Bugs in the Pub’ will give pub-goers the chance to hear some fascinating research over a pint with friends. Dr Connor Bamford is the lead organiser.

connor

1. Who are you and what do you do?

Connor Bamford: I am a postdoc researcher at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) out at the Garscube campus. My research focuses on understanding how our immune systems defend us against virus infection.

 

 2. What brings you to Glasgow Science Festival this year?

I believe that it is our duty to communicate research and engage with the public and the GSF is an ideal opportunity to do this. I ran an event last year (microTALKs), which was a success, and I wanted to repeat it in 2016. To do this we are running a ‘pint of science’ style event exploring the role of structure, architecture and innovation in virus infection. Basically I think that evolution is the greatest innovator and that we can observe evolution by looking at viruses and the animals they infect.

3. 2016 is Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. What innovation could you not live without?

If it wasn’t for antibiotics we would probably all not survive very long.

4. It’s Glasgow Science Festival’s 10thbirthday! We’ll be celebrating with some science-themed cake and balloons. What’s your birthday treat of choice?

Pizza – it’s always pizza.

5. And finally: impress us with your favourite science fact or joke.

Every living thing on the planet gets infected by viruses, even viruses do!

Join Connor and friends in The Admiral Bar, Waterloo Street on Thursday 16 June from 19:00-21:00. The event is free but ticketed – book online.