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Bioscience on show at Royal Society Summer Science

25 June 2010

World-class BBSRC science is on show over the next 10 days as part of the Royal Society's Festival of Science and Arts at the Southbank Centre in London.

Exhibits from two BBSRC institutes are joined by other BBSRC-supported researchers with their own displays demonstrating the breadth of UK bioscience. All of the exhibits are taking part in the Royal Society's annual Summer Science exhibition, which this year is part of a bigger Festival of Science and Arts to mark the Society's 350th anniversary.

Soil science and heart signals

The 2 BBSRC Institutes participating are Rothamsted Research and the Babraham Institute. Both exhibits have been supported by BBSRC and will be manned by scientists throughout the duration of the Festival.

The Queen demonstrating an interest in the Rothamsted Research stand

Rothamsted is exhibiting Journey to centre of the Earth: the first 23cm. The exhibit aims to engage visitors with the complexity of soil, to help them understand how it works and what previously undiscovered organisms it may contain. They will also be able to learn how soil communities function, see large invertebrates by eye, examine smaller ones with microscopes, learn how DNA is extracted from soil and how advanced techniques are used to analyse these communities.

HM The Queen touring the Royal Society's Festival of Science and Arts

The Babraham Institute exhibit is titled Calcium signalling: getting to the heart of the matter. The interactive exhibit explains how the heart works, what happens when biochemical signalling goes wrong leading to serious medical conditions like irregular heartbeats and ultimately heart failure. Calcium ions play a critical role in regulating the activity of heart cells; this key chemical signal drives muscle contraction and is needed for every heart beat. The research bridges the gap between clinical diagnoses of heart problems and understanding what has gone wrong at the level of individual cells.

Royal visit

HM The Queen toured the Festival of Science and Arts as part of the Royal Society's 350th anniversary convocation on Tuesday 22 June. As part of her visit she visited both the Rothamsted and Babraham exhibits and spent time speaking to the Institute scientists.

Parasites, algae, nanoscience and clams

In addition to the two BBSRC supported Institute exhibits there is a strong presence for BBSRC science across the festival. This includes the following exhibits that all have sponsorship from BBSRC.

Leishmania: lessons from a parasite - Imperial College London. Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease affecting an estimated 12 million people in 88 countries. It occurs in some of the poorest regions in the world, where medical diagnosis and treatment are limited. Visitors to the exhibit can enter an Ethiopian hut and learn about the Leishmania parasite life cycle, how the parasites infect people and elicit immune responses in the infected person, and how the disease is currently treated.

HM The Queen touring the Royal Society's Festival of Science and Arts

Nanoscale science - a giant leap for mankind - UCL. UCL researchers are exploring how nanoparticles can be used in healthcare. Visitors to the exhibit can see nanoparticles in action and take part in making them, using cooking ingredients such as lemon juice, salt and eggs. Scientists will demonstrate colour changes in nanoparticles, and how heating magnetic nanoparticles on human tissue can provide powerful localised therapy for cancer.

Meet the algae: diversity, biology and energy - University of Cambridge. Researchers are studying ways to harness algae as a renewable energy source. Visitors to this exhibit will be introduced to different groups of algae, and will see how they move in their environment, and how algae can harness sunlight to produce hydrogen, electricity or other forms of green energy.

Artica islandica - the longest-lived animal on Earth - led by Bangor University. Scientists are studying a remarkable marine clam which can give us important insights into two very different but very important subjects: climate change and the ageing process. Visitors to the exhibit can learn how to tell exactly when A. islandica shells were living. They can compare A. islandica for longevity with other bivalves, including a giant clam that's much bigger than Arctica but doesn't live nearly as long. And younger visitors will get to enjoy a genuine beach experience.

The Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition showcases cutting edge research in science and engineering from across the UK each year. For 2010, the exhibition is being held at Southbank as part of See Further: The Festival of Science & Arts to mark the Royal Society's 350th anniversary.

A total of 27 interactive exhibits are presenting the best of UK science, engineering and technology. The exhibition is located in the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, and takes place from Friday 25 June to Sunday 4 July 2010. Open Friday 25 June 6pm - 8.30pm, then daily 10am - 8.30pm.