Monthly Archives: November 2013

Plans Are Afoot For The Lancashire Science Festival 2014!

After the massive success of this summer’s Lancashire Science Festival, things are gearing up for an even bigger and better festival for 2014!

Next year’s theme is Power Up!!!!! And so we hope that you can join us as we Power Up for a 3 day celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

Experience physics as never before through the power of rock and roll with Being 747; learn how to harness the power of your brain with UCLan Psychology experts; launch your imagination as we Power Up Up And Away; go digital and debate the use of drones and then recharge your batteries at Surgical Spirit: The Science of Cocktails!

For 2014 we are also excited to welcome the Festival of the Spoken Nerd – see the power of sparkling wit meeting fascinating science in this comedy night for the insatiably sci-curious.

The main programme will be free of charge and open to primary schools on Thursday 26 June, Secondary Schools and Colleges on Friday 27 June and culminating with a general public day on Saturday 28 June.

Tickets for our evening acts; ‘The Festival of the Spoken Nerd’ and ‘Surgical Sprit: The Science of Cocktails’ will be on sale soon.


The First HeroLab Entry Is In!

Today we received the very first entry for our HeroLab competition!

HeroLab is a collaboartion with the Public Engagement Unit, UCLan Engineering lecturer, Matt Dickinson and professional comic book artists who have worked for both Marvel and DC. The project aims to encourage more children to think about the power of Engineering through the medium of a real-science comic strip. Matt has already been turned into a Superhero (he’s awesome!) but the competition is now open to school children (aged 11 and under) to come up with either his Superhero partner or Supervillian nemesis. The best characters will then be professionally drawn and will feature in the concluding half of the HeroLab comic.

Our first entry is The Mad Hatter – an evil Supervillain, designed by a 7 year old budding comic book artisit who features a Laser Arm, Super Speedy Shoes, a Stone Arm and most terrifyingly Super Wedgey Power!

The Mad Hatter - beware the wedgies!

The Mad Hatter – beware the wedgies!

The closing date for entries is 30th January 2014 – read the first part of the comic and download your entry form at

If only I were 11!

Doctor Who – A Great Success!

Saturday 16th November, saw the culmination of all our hard work to bring together the Dr Who: The Science Behind The Scenes event, and what an event it was! 500 whovians of all shapes and sizes (including a surprisingly hilarious Davros and thoroughly terrifying Scarecrow!) came down to campus for a great day of Doctor Who fun and even a little bit of learning!

The Engage UCLan team spent a frantic Friday beforehand manhandling a fabulous TARDIS (kindly loaned by Adam Bird, son of Janet Bird, Futures Award Project/Course Leader) that was suffering slightly from the effects of 2 years resting in a back garden as a home for compost and dog food! But happily the ministrations of a couple of lovely (if slightly bemused) builders brought it back to life and it spent the day of the event in prize place under the glare of a myriad of flash bulbs.

The TARDIS under going some minor surgery!

The TARDIS under going some minor surgery!

The TARDIS with all of it’s new friends – from the left, Jenny Bennion, a Sontaran (not a baddy), Tania Callagher, a fantastic Dalek that turned up in someone from Fulwood Academy’s car boot (and is available to rent to raise funds for a 3D printer), Stephen Gallagher, the terrifying Scarecrow, Davros, Jo Heaton, Robert Walsh and another member of the Hyde Fundraisers.

Highlights of the day included – well everything really!

Prof Paola Dey kicked off proceedings with a great talk on whether Doctor Who could be considered a modern doctor, and excatly how would he get on in the modern day NHS! One attendee commented that “It was humourous and informative. Great

Dr Andrew Ireland then gave a fantastic talk looking at how the special effects have changed from when Doctor Who first stared in the 1960’s to the modern day, and how this has affected the programme. Andrew is quite obviously a big DW fan (he even did his PhD in Doctor Who!) and that really shone through his lecture – he even brought his wonderful home-made K-9 along, who apparently thoroughly enjoyed his day out too!

We then had the lovely Dr Ian Turner from the University of Derby who arrived dressed as the Matt Smith Doctor and talked us through the Science of Dr Who, including a great fun quiz!

Another highlight was the Q&A Session with Doctor Who screenwriter Stephen Gallagher, who told us all about how he got into writing in the first place and had one of the best answers to the question of ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ I’ve ever heard – it involved crackers and a saucer of milk! He then generously gave even more of his time to signing autographs and having lovely personal chats with a great queue of his fans.

Stephen Gallagher during his Q&A

Stephen Gallagher during his Q&A

The sessions then concluded with Dr Sarita Robinson talking about The Psychology of Doctor Who. The whovians amongst us (now) know that the Doctor has 2 hearts, but Sarita told us all about what might be going on in his head, followed by our amatuer physicist James Davies giving us an overview of whether the Doctor’s time travelling antics were actually possible? Ping Pong balls and Grandfathers were all included here!

Apart from the sessions we also had the brilliant Hyde Fundraisers in attendance. This fantastic group travel around SciFi events dressing as Doctor Who (or other) characters, all to raise money for Children in Need. Not only are their costumes fantastic, but they really stay in character and interact with the audience. A particular favourite was Davros, Lord of the Daleks who when having photos would exclaim “Make sure you get my best side”, “Which side’s that?”, “My dark side”!

Davros having his dark side photographed!

Davros having his dark side photographed!

So to conclude, a day of brilliant Doctor Who fun was had by all. We set up a great dialogue between our academics and the community and managed to inform, educate and engage people along the way. Even if it involved being chased down a corridor by an evil Scarecrow!

See. They're really scary!

See. They’re really scary!

The Transit of Venus

On Thursday 7th November, UCLan is proud to be hosting a performance of Eric Northey’s acclaimed play The Transit of Venus. Premiered at Manchester’s 24:7 Theatre Festival in 2012, the play looks at the work of two humble north west astronomers, Jeremiah Horrocks of Much Hoole and William Crabtree from Lower Broughton in Salford.

Horrocks and Crabtree came from lowly beginnings to complete ground-breaking work in Astronomy, hypothesising, testing and finally concluding that the Transit of Venus (when Venus crosses the sun and is thus visible from Earth) happened in pairs, 8 years apart, a fact previously missed by the great Astronomer Johannes Kepler. With dogged persistence Horrocks and Crabtree stuck to their telescopes and were rewarded by glimpses of the planet as it crossed the face of the sun on the 24th of November 1639. From that, they could calculate the size of the sun, the size of Venus and, most importantly, the distance of Earth from the Sun, the basis of all astronomical measurement.

Along with their amazing science, The Transit of Venus also looks at the work of Horrocks and Crabtree as it was set against the tumultuous political and social upheaval of the time, which finally culminated in the English Civil War. Tragedy struck when Horrocks died shortly after his discovery on January 3rd 1641. In the ensuing years of civil unrest, Crabtree also died in 1644, and the work of the two astronomers was forgotten and their papers all but destroyed.

“I found this play highly moving in its depiction of the relationship between the three main characters – in particular given the contrast between blind devotion to God and belief in the triumph of reason, as well as idealism versus expediency.”

There will be free tickets available for on the night for UCLan staff and students, others can pay on the door on the night.