Dr Michael Foale & ‘Gravity’

Following on from a screening of the recently released film ‘Gravity’ (dir. Alfonso Cuarón), Dr Michael Foale, who has recently retired from NASA, gave a public talk at King’s last night about his real life experience of travelling to the space station and dealing with a crisis following a collision. Also speaking at the event were NASA astronaut trainer Michelle Ham & Dr David Green from the Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King’s College London.

NASA astronaut Dr Michael Foale, NASA astronaut trainer Michelle Ham & Dr David Green talking about space research

NASA astronaut Dr Michael Foale, NASA astronaut trainer Michelle Ham & Dr David Green talking at the Greenwood Theatre about life in space

Dr Foale & Michelle Ham were at King’s for the week taking part in the annual ISSET Mission Discovery event, helping schoolchildren develop their ideas for scientific experiments to be carried out in space. The winning ideas will be sent to the International Space Station for testing.

King’s at Summer Science Exhibition 2014

As part of the annual Summer Science Exhibition at the Royal Society, King’s presented a stand from the Dental Institute on ‘Cutting Edge: The Science of Tooth Replacement’, organised by Professor Paul Sharpe, Dr Abigail Tucker, Dr Ana Angelova Volponi and Dr Neal Anthwal (and with the help of many student volunteers), showed research at King’s on ‘Bioteeth’ – the development of replacement teeth from cells.

Visitors milling around Cutting Edge stand

Also displayed at the exhibition are artworks inspired by the symmetry in crystals and their X-ray diffraction patterns. as part of the International Year of Crystallography. These pieces come from Professor Brian Sutton‘s collaboration with the glass artist Shelley James.

A piece of crystal etched with X-ray diffraction patterns

Contours Installation


King’s Professor Andrew Prescott of the Department of Digital Humanities was also at the festival showing a harmonious arts and science project as part of the AHRC Digital Transformations theme. Contours – an interactive sound scultpure using conductive ink, was developed by Bare Conductive, Fabio Antinori and Alicja Pytlewska (Commissioned by the MAK Museum of Applied Arts and Contemporary Art in Vienna).

How to Live Like A Martian


On Friday night, a talk sponsored by King’s on ‘How to Live Like a Martian’ saw Dr David Green from the Centre for Human and Aerospace Sciences alongside astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell and extreme environment doctor Alex Salam discuss the plans for a mission to Mars.

The general conclusion of the panel was although they thought the timescales for some of the planned Mars ventures were too optimistic, they thought we would reach Mars within the next few decades, and the challenge of the mission will spur on technical innovations which could have benefits ‘back on Earth’.

King’s at Cheltenham Science Festival 2014

Various researchers from King’s have been talking at the Science Festival this year in Cheltenham

The festival started with a discussion involving Professor David Cowan (Director of the Drug Control Centre at King’s) on detection of performance enhancing drugs in sport.

Ethicist Dr Illina Singh took part in a discussion on whether brain simulation was an appropriate treatment for patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Professor Robert Plomin took part in two events at the festival based on his research into the genetics of intelligence.

Professor Clive Page helped reveal the hidden science behind baking (hopefully without exploding too many cakes).

Some food facts…

A few things we’ve learnt from the first week of the festival:

  • The average person produces half a litre of saliva each day
  • American Chocolate has soured milk added to it to reproduce its original taste
  • The number of overweight people in the UK has trebled in the last 20 years
  • 1-2% of whisky is lost through evaporation each year in the barrel
  • Fray Bentos is a town in Uruguay which supplied Britain with Oxo cubes and Corned Beef

No doubt more food (and drink) facts to follow this week!

Culinary tour of the world…

Our first few events have taken us from Brazil, India & China (Feeding the World) to Ghana (Cocoa Production & Child Labour) and Uruguay (Beefing Up Britain). Tonight we return back to China for a talk on ‘Chinese Food & Medicine’, then tomorrow we take a pause from our travels to look at the more scientific aspects of food & health, from ‘Superfoods & Heart Disease’ to ‘Food Labelling and Healthy Eating’.

Tickets Update

Not a great surprise, but our first event to sell out is ‘The Science of Chocolate’. However there are many others talks left, who could resist a taste of Mrs’s Beeton’s Beef Tea (and learn about the history of hospital food), learning about the surprising long history of the global beef trade (Beefing up Britain) or watching and discussing the recently re-released film ‘Babette’s Feast’.

The full programme of events is viewable here, and the printed programme will soon be available from campus receptions.