Return of TSI Friday – 13/9/2013

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Mike juggles invisible juggling balls

Today saw the welcome return of everyone’s favourite science based Friday lunch time lecture series at RGS; TSI Friday. This year the plan is to post summaries of the talks here to allow comment and discussion beyond the original session. In the future we may even move to uploading the speakers’ slides or even videos of the talks. One step at a time.

This week started with a 7PAS double header. I was pleased to be able to introduce Philip and Mike from my form who had both been stalwart attendees of TSI last year.

Philip spoke on the topic of materials science, and more importantly; why things fail. He looked at how some of the defining characteristics of materials such as toughness, stiffness and tensile strength. He took us through some of the reasons metals, glass and crystals fail and then looked at how materials scientists went about preventing this through alloying and tempering glass. He also ignited some magnesium (following a suitable risk assessment). A key book Philip used to write the talk was J E Gordan’s The New Science of Strong Materials, which features on many university engineering reading lists. It’s available from the RGS Library and is available, once Philip has finished with it.

Mike followed up with a talk about Proprioception; the body’s awareness of itself and the effort it’s exerting. He looked at the various senses and how proprioception was a learned behaviour. Mike demonstrated this with some juggling; he had no need to look at his hands because he knew where they were. He looked at phantom limb sensation and how the mind can be tricked into thinking that a fake hand is part of the body. Finally Mike looked at Cristiano Ronaldo (he is a professional footballer I am told) who had such high proprioception and spatial awareness that he was able to pick out a cross once the ball had been kicked and the lights turned off. This was Mike’s second TSI following his talk on Water Bears in Space! last year. During the questions Mr Dare suggested that those who were interested should check out The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks; again this is available in the school library.

It was great to get the ball rolling again and to have so many at the first TSI of the year bodes well. We are always keen for new people to give talks, so volunteer and share your interest in science with the rest of the group. Come and speak to any Head of Science and we’ll get you started.

Mr Saunders

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