TSI Friday 6 – 24/1/14

After a long break from exciting science talks in the TSI community we were given a welcome return from two excellent speakers, Mr Byfield on model organisms and the ways in which we can manipulate them, and Mr Saunders on the aerodynamics of the Frisb… flying disc… It is definitely not called a Frisbee (unless of course you’re talking about a Wham-O brand flying disc, then you’re fine).

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Mr Byfield gave us an insight into what he had studied at University for his final year project; the c elegan a type of model organism. The four main model organisms are a type of plant (not that exciting), a mouse (again we see them tested all the time), but the coolest model organisms are the fruit fly and a type of worm called Caenorhabditis elegan (or c elegan for short). We have all seen the fluorescent protein used from jellyfish to make worms glow under UV, well that’s the kind of thing these little critters get used for, testing out lengths of DNA in abnormal ways. Now the fluorescing pigment effects the nervous cells and makes them glow green, due to GFP (green fluorescent protein), in the worm. This allowed the scientist working on the worms to work out where there head was as there was more nervous activity occurring at one end. I also particularly liked the fruit fly who had been genetically changed to have a leg grow instead of its antennas… then it had another leg growing out of the knee of the face-leg and then an eye growing in the knee of the face-leg-knee-leg.

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The second talk, by Mr Saunders, was on the famous Frisbee which started life as a pie dish for Mr Frisbee’s pies. Actually the talk wasn’t about Frisbees at all, it was about flying discs; the Frisbee is actually a genericised term for flying disc and Frisbee is a trademark brand by Wham-O, so I should be putting TM after Frisbee™.  After clearing up the branding issues of the flying disc, we were told about the aerodynamics of the Frisbee™. It flys like a plane and whirls around like a gyroscope. So essentially it keeps going straight for a while, unless you throw like Mr Dare and it actually fly’s any direction but straight! The key to throwing a Frisbee™ is to get a good spin; without spin it will flip up nearly instantly. But why do we have grooves on a disc? Well it causes the pressure drag to be decreased as it breaks the flow of the air so there is less of a vacuum behind the disc. This also is why golf balls have dimples, which interestingly was discovered by old balls flying further than new ones as chunks were missing from overuse.

Mr Saunders’ talk was certainly not just a chance to advertise the sport of Ultimate to another group of people. Although, if you want to have a go at manipulating a flying disc and seeing how remarkable they fly then pop along to Ultimate after half term, Thursday after school on Broadfield Lawn. Open to 5th Form and above and a popular games option in the summer term. Or pop along to Croydon and play some disc golf; although RGS ultimate seems closer and have a handy twitter account to follow too: https://twitter.com/RGSUltimate

If you want to do a TSI then talk to the heads of science, I highly recommend it, its not often you get to talk for 15 minutes without being interrupted!

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