Bedales’ Biology department honours Robin Hill

dr-david-hillOne of the highlights of Parents’ Day was the presence in the Biology department of Dr David Hill, an Old Bedalian who is the son of another Old Bedalian, Robin Hill (1912-1917).

This year the Biology department display celebrated the life and work of Robin Hill, a biologist renowned for his work on chloroplasts and what is called the ‘Hill reaction’. Before moving on to Biochemistry, while still at Bedales, Robin Hill also developed an interest in plant dyes such as Woad and Madder. On display were some of his experiments with different dyes and fabrics – experiments that do not look dissimilar to a current Bedales Assessed Course project on plant dyes by Helena Alexander (Block 5).

This interest was inherited by David Hill, who is a real authority on the subject and was very happy to discuss it at length with visitors to the exhibition.

Robin Hill also invented the fisheye camera lens and was a very talented watercolour artist. The display, organised by Mary Shotter, focused on all aspects of Robin Hill’s life with many paintings and books that originated from his time at Bedales.

The department is very grateful to David and his wife Ruth, who both gave up the day to come and spend time in his old school and share anecdotes about his remarkable father.

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GSCE Science Live – Oxford visit

professor-jim-al-khalili-science-live

By Alex Lunn, Block 4

Science Live, held just before half term, was certainly an interesting trip. The coach journey was surprisingly easy and, even though Oxford was rife with manic bicycles, no pedestrians were harmed and we got to the theatre safely.

The first talk, by Professor Steve Jones, was fascinating. It involved both bodybuilding and Siamese cats linked by the amazing world of genetics. Next, Professor Jim Al-Khalili confused us all over the possibility of time travel, explaining the different physical challenges and logical paradoxes of going forwards and backwards in time – mind blowing!

Professor Robert Winston amazed us with the peculiar habits of sea urchins and some of the ways he has furthered fertility research over the past 20 years. He also raised the ethical issues associated with ‘designer’ babies and the possibility of transhumanism.

Lunch was a stressful ordeal – it was debatable if some people would make it back in time for the afternoon lectures, especially with large ‘mighty meaty’ pizzas which had to be eaten in 25 minutes!

During the afternoon, we listened to lectures from Dr Kate Lancaster aka ‘mission for fusion’ discussing the state of nuclear fusion research across the globe and finally Dr Ben Goldacre the author of Bad Science took to the stage. We were all fully attentive for his startling screams and frightening facts and will be more discriminating about the scientific-sounding ‘facts’ we believe in, in the future.

The trip to Science Live was a memorable experience; one that I am sure everyone enjoyed. Many thanks to the science teachers – who appeared to be in pain with laughter at the geeky jokes throughout!

 

A visit to: Wired Next Generation Day

wired-next-generation-day-crop

By Lara Loasby, Block 4

Wired Next Generation Day is an annual event put on by the innovation and technology magazine Wired, to inspire teenagers to experiment with and learn about the latest technologies. They have on average 15 speakers, ranging from an international drone racer to a memory scientist to topics on animation and CGI at Pixar. They also have a room filled with different interactive displays, such as an interactive ultrasound hologram that will be used for advertisements and has been sold to Crypton Future Media for hologram concerts.

The talk I most enjoyed was by Heston Blumenthal on the science of taste. During the talk he made us all take a glass of Coke and look at two screens, one had ‘Coke’ written in spiky bold writing and the other had ‘Coke’ written in soft bubble-style writing. He told us to take a sip whilst looking at one of the two screens, and when we looked at the screen with the spiky writing the Coke tasted almost sour and when we looked at the bubble writing it tasted even sweeter than normal. He explained that this was because our senses work in a specific order, sight, sound, smell, touch and then taste so the way that something looks or smells can greatly affect the way that we taste food, which I found really interesting.

Another talk that I really enjoyed was by Julia Shaw who was a memory scientist specialising in manipulating memories. She told us that she could delete memories or create them, and that this was not a special skill. “You do it all the time” she said, and then proceeded with examples of when she, as a teacher, asked students to write about their favourite moment of the holidays. When she was creating memories, she changed at least one specific detail of the students’ memories and with some she wrote a new one. When she gave them back to the students, none of them realised that anything had been changed, and when she asked some of the students who had had theirs completely re-written, she was surprised to find that they could tell her about the event that she made up for them in startling detail –  even though that event had never happened.

There were many other fascinating talks, for example a bionic arm builder and Pixar’s leading animator – all in all it was an amazing day and I really loved it.

B-Sci: issue 7

Harry Snell’s Pick of the Week:

  • The Seventh Row of the periodic table has been completed by Japanese, American and Russian Researchers who have allowed elements 113, 115, 117 and 118 to be seen for long enough for them to be officially recognised as elements.
  • A major methane leak from a gas well in California has forced 2200 people to evacuate their homes, and threatens thousands more. The leak has emitted the CO2-equivalent of 7 million cars every day since starting in October, according to the Environmental Defence Fund. SoCalGas, which owns the well, has found the leak’s source, but says it won’t be plugged until March.
  • The US government has told NASA to visit Europa in 2022. The latest budget set aside $175 million for a planned fly-by of Jupiter’s glacier moon, but it added a twist: NASA is required to land on the moon, not just fly past. Europa is a promising target in the search for extra-terrestrial life, thanks to its liquid water ocean.
  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service decided in December to classify African lions as either “endangered” or “threatened”. The move closes the US market to all trade in lion parts and trophies.
  • Russia’s space agency was reborn this week. Currently the only way for astronauts to reach the International Space Station, Roscosmos will become a state-owned corporation. It will aim to compete with companies like SpaceX, which aim to start carrying humans to space in 2017.
  • It is thought that early humans about 14,000 years ago in China may have lived alongside much more primitive humans, based on a femur found in a cave along with other bones, which showed signs of a burial ritual as well as those of being burnt and butchered. This makes it seem likely that Homo sapiens cannibalised the more primitive humans, but due to the recent age of this finding it makes it a good candidate for an even more recent hybrid-looking skull and bones found elsewhere, dating back 10,500 years.

https://www.newscientist.com

 

In the light of How our Diet has changed over the last Century, How does Nutrition affect the Developing Brain? By Sam Pemberton (Block 4)

Nutrition is a massive part of our life, where we get it from, how we obtain it and how it keeps us healthy or how it may make us un-healthy. To this day, many scientists are trying to understand how what we eat affects us, mentally and physically. We can all agree that organic, non-chemically enhanced food is likely to be healthier. However, organic food comes at a price. This is because producing organically grown food is far more labour intensive and cannot be produced on a large-scale, meaning the demand is increased, causing the price to rise. So, I believe, that what we eat and how it may affect our brain could depend on our socio-economic factors.

Over the past 100 years our diet has changed a lot. A century ago it was normal for people to eat organic, grass-fed produce. Large amounts of meat used to be eaten, due to the fact that you had to eat seasonally. So when there weren’t any fresh vegetables, people had to fill the plate with more meat. There weren’t any fresh fruit and vegetables travelling miles across continents just to satisfy the demand and desire for strawberries in winter1. The United Kingdom, today, is taking part in major food consumption and food wastage. We as a country eat 10% more calories than we need to, to stay healthy. An average man should take in about 2,500kcal and an average women should take in around 2,000kcal2. Another factor which has changed in this country, which affects the brain, is the pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones pumped into the food we consume. If a salmon has had Growth Hormones pumped into it, it will grow twice as fast to the size which is needed to be able to be sold. A chemical which is given to salmon is called Astaxanthin which is a supplement to their normal diet which consists of fish, eels, squid and shrimp. Again, if a cow has added hormones, it will produce 15% more milk and will grow 20% faster than a cow without additional hormones.

A third of what we eat should be fruit and vegetables. Another third should be starchy foods, such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta. The last portion should consist of dairy products, food high in fats and/or sugar and meat, fish and eggs. However we eat a large amount of processed meat, which usually comes from abroad. Fresh fish is a lot more expensive now, causing it to be left off the dinner plate, unless you choose to spend more on food. However, fish is the main source from which we can get Omega 3 into our bodies. We as a nation consume a vast amount of processed foods and drinks which have an extremely high sugar count. Alcohol also plays a part in our daily diet. Men should drink no more than 3-4 units and women should drink no more than 2-3 units per day. The over-consumption of alcohol affects movement, speech, judgment and memory. It is also high in sugar. Our diet has changed a lot and the supermarkets’ demand for produce is enormous. This has resulted in a change in the way we farm and produce food.

As the population rises and our appetite for food increases, British farmers are forced to try and meet this demand. However, farmers are not able to completely provide food for everyone. Less than 60% of the food we eat originates from the UK. This means supermarkets are having to import produce from abroad. Less people are consuming UK grown food because the prices are often higher than the food we import from elsewhere. Another major change is the addition of chemicals, hormones and antibodies which are used in the production of livestock or plants. These chemicals are used to maximise the farmers’ profits and increase their yield of crops and livestock, to provide more food for supermarkets at a competitive price. There is a lot of discussion involving the matter of whether these chemicals which enhance productivity affect physical and mental development in humans.

The brain is an organ which gives out commands to the rest of the body, so it can function. These ‘instructions’ travel across the body in our nervous system. For the brain to function properly it needs to be given the right minerals and vitamins, and in the right balance. Most of the minerals and vitamins can only come from our diet. One of the nutrients the brain needs is complex carbohydrates, which can help with relaxing and sleeping. This is important as the brain needs to relax, so it can function properly when you need it. If the brain is deprived of sleep it can affect childrens’ spelling and grammar at school, especially for the developing brain. Other vital vitamins needed for the developing brain are the Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 and Omega 6 have to come from our diet. Omega 3 is said to improve learning and memory. A survey was done by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with 790 students to find out whether Omega 3 affects learning and memory. The results showed that 396 students who had high Omega 3, had a higher intelligence measurement. However the 394 students with low Omega 3, had a lower intelligence. This shows us that Omega 3 is vital for brain development. Omega 3 is also given to people with ADHD and people who are on the Autism Spectrum and can also help with preventing dementia, bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia. Omega 3 and Omega 6 need to be in a 1:1 ratio, otherwise it can cause the effects of depression, dementia and neurodevelopmental disorders. We mostly don’t have a balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6. Water is very important for a developing brain, as the brain is 80% water, it needs to have a plentiful amount to function properly. In the UK obesity is a big problem with 20% of the population being obese. Obesity is a major risk factor for a variety of diseases, which include some that can affect the brain, such as dementia and stroke.

We know that what we eat definitely affects our brain. So what do all the chemicals in our food do to our brain? Junk food has been known to cause ADHD, Autism and dyslexia. The preservatives in the food can trigger these diseases. The high fat and sugar content in junk food can also make the brain hyper-active. This country has such a high obesity rate because of the high fat and sugar diet we consume. If you do not look after your brain and these diseases do affect you, they could also affect your children and your grandchildren as they can also be passed down the generations. Our Omega 6 mostly comes from snack foods, biscuits, cakes etc. so our ratio is out of balance. Fish is our main source of Omega 3 and because it is much more expensive now in the modern day, people do not eat as much, meaning the intake becomes even more un-balanced. The hormones added to produce can sometimes accelerate puberty in girls. The hormones are eaten along with the food and pass into the brain. This can cause stress in the brain which would normally happen later on in life: it can also cause social stress as well.

The antibiotics which farmers give to their produce, can affect your gut. A study was carried out by UCLA to find out whether antibiotics in milk, which affect the gut can also then lead on to the brain being affected. Scientists have known that the gut responds to messages from the brain and this is why stress can lead on to gastrointestinal symptoms. But now, this investigation shows to us that it can work the other way.

In conclusion, we as a nation use a lot of chemicals in our food, to preserve it, to make it grow quicker and to change its colour. Organic food provides us with another option of what to eat. However it is more expensive and isn’t time efficient. More of us have also have started to eat a high fat and sugar diet because of the ready meals and processed food which are made to save time and money. Organic food doesn’t harm the brain but processed, high in fat and sugar food does. There are many consequences to putting additional chemicals into food, but farmers will continue to add chemicals to keep up with the demanding supermarkets and the even cheaper imported produce. In an ideal world we would eat organic, local produce and a low-fat low-sugar diet. The rate at which scientific knowledge is advancing, we should be able to prevent these diseases for the generations to come, no matter what your socio-economic factors are.

  1. Ettinger, J (2015) Food Then and Now: how Nutrition has Changed in NaturallySavvy.com
  1. Small, Dr G (2015) Brain Fitness for a Long and Healthy Life in Newsroom.ucla.edu

 

B-Sci: issue 6

Harry Snell’s Pick of the Week

  • Because of the amount of antibiotics that used to be fed to farm animals to make them grow faster, one more “last resort” antibiotics is now potentially useless because resistant bacteria have been found in China and Denmark, with the exact same resistance gene (so they travelled, didn’t evolve independently)
  • Some people are naturally born without the ability to feel pain. However, after genetically modifying mice to have the same nerve blockers so they don’t feel pain, researchers noticed that they produced a lot of opioids, so they tried to treat them with a drug usually used to treat overdoses of opium or morphine, which made them able to feel pain again. The same drug also worked for the woman who had the condition naturally.

  • Next October, in the Netherlands, a bioreactor will be running which can produce the annual meat ration for 2000 people, synthetically grown. It is much more efficient than growing beef- see picture. It is being ran by Mark Post, who cooked and ate a home- grown beef burger on TV in 2013.


The Global Story of Maths- the Maths Enrichment Course
(Martin Jones)
Mathematics as a cultural phenomenon

Who invented Maths? Is Maths really that important? Is everything in Maths true?

BiSci6 - 2

Clay tablet from Mesopotamia c. 1800 BCE: first evidence of “Pythagoras’ Theorem”?

Different societies in different eras have viewed Maths in a variety of ways. In this enrichment course we look at how Maths has shaped societies and how different societies have shaped Maths. By placing the development of mathematics in context, including examples from the ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and Greece, to developments in India, Islam and Europe, we can see the role Maths has played in different societies through history. Inspired by new approaches of the last twenty years to the study of the history of mathematics, we explore:

  • the evolution of number systems in different cultures
  • the struggles involved developing concepts of zero and negative numbers
  • connections with art and music
  • the advances made in different cultures to which “European mathematics” owes its inheritance
  • the failure and success of logic in the 20th century
  • BiSci6 - 3

    Maryam Mirzakhani (right): Iranian mathematician, prof. at Stanford University – first female winner of the Fields medal, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for mathematics

    and the rise of uncertainty in this most certain of subjects.

This global panorama allows us to survey the diversity of views about what Maths is, what its role has been in societies, and to consider what part we feel it should play in the society of today and tomorrow, faced as we are with such pressing global challenges as digitalisation, financial instability and climate change.

Is food really better from the farm gate than from the supermarket shelf?

Is our food is getting less nutritious due to modern farming methods. Biochemist Donald Davids noticed a decline in nutrients in certain foods found in the average shopper’s supermarket trolley between 1950 and 2009. For example, a 43 percent drop was found in iron in various fruits.

BiSci6 - 4Who is to blame?

Davis and others blame agriculture practices that emphasise high crop yield over quality. The emphasis on food produced more rapidly to increase crop yield mean plants cannot absorbs nutrients at the same rate and the result is nutrients lacking food.

Although, this may not be the only reason for these nutrients levels dropping. Last year, researcher at Harvard University warned that crops grown in the future will have significantly less zinc and iron due to rising levels of carbon dioxide.

However, “this decline in nutrients is not significant enough to make any concerns over health” said Eric Decker, professor of food science at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Lithium dreams: the surreal landscape where batteries are born

BiSci6 - 5Lithium is an essential resource to power our smart phones. Concentrated in layers of brine (salt water) under a volcanic rock, huge lithium reserves are held in the Bolivian Andes. This is the largest reserve in the world. Due to the increased demand for lithium in our smart phones and other technological equipment, this element seems essential for present and future technology. These salty flats in Bolivia contain more than 40 percent of the world’s lithium and only now are we starting to tap into its stores. Unlike many other natural chemicals, there is no shortage. The question is, can these pristine landscapes be preserved as our demand for lithium increases?

Getting its lithium onto the global market would undoubtedly benefit the Bolivian economy as a whole, generating jobs and the promise of a better life for its citizens. The question of possible environmental costs remains open – the same tense story that is already playing out over Bolivia’s other rich resource, gas, and its pristine swathes of Amazon forest – but opposition to the burgeoning industry will take time to develop.

As our hunger for the latest slick device continues to drive demand for this most prized of elements, those who live around the salt flats may see their environment change dramatically. But for now at least, the gleaming white salt on the harsh landscape of the Salar de Uyuni still stretches to the horizon undisturbed.

Has social living shrunk our brains? 20,000 years ago, the average human brain was 10 percent larger than it is today. Could this dip in cranial capacity mark our dwindling intelligence or could also attribute to our improved brain efficiency?

BiSci6 - 6A psychologist at the University of Bristol, Hood, claims that the shrinkage in brain mass is best explained in the changes to our society. “We have been self-domesticating through the invention of culture” which has given rise to a culture of “dwindling intelligence.”  He continued to say that every species that has ever been domesticated by human has lost its brain capacity as a result. This is prevalent in the difference between dogs and wolves. Hood believes that the correlation between our self-domesticating of our society and the shrinkage of our brains and “dwindling intelligence” is no coincidence.

By Ollo Catton (6.1)

 

B-Sci: issue 5

B-Sci has been away for a couple of weeks and we apologise for not publishing any new articles recently. Last week we treated ourselves to pasta at Richard’s house and so no “work” got done. This week we are very pleased to publish an article by Ben Allez on Dark Matter which we hope you will enjoy. Next week we will publish Sam Pemberton’s essay for the Henry Kitchener Prize.

Dark matter – The Large Underground Xenon Experiment
By Ben Allez, 6.1

BiSci1Dark matter is one of the most elusive substances in the universe: no one knows what it is or what it looks like, however there is plenty of proof of it’s existence. It is called matter because its mass affects the gravity of normal matter, e.g. stars and galaxies. But it has no electromagnetic interactions, so we cannot see it.

While examining a coma galaxy cluster in 1933 Fritz Zwicky[i] was the first to propose that there was this ‘unseen matter’ which he called dunkle Materie which translates as dark matter. He came to this conclusion by calculating the gravitational mass of the galaxy cluster and then comparing it to the expected gravitational mass from the luminosity of it. The results were that the mass was of the cluster was around 400 times greater than expected – this number was then reduced later on with some calculations that gave the stars more luminosity than expected – however there was still a clear gap between the seen and expected.

Rotational curves of spiral galaxies is one way in which dark matter is proven to exist, when you get to the outskirts of a galaxy the rotational velocity of the planets and other matter should slow down as the gravity is weaker; however the results are different. It has a much higher velocity than is expected, it does not obey newton’s laws, there is not enough mass to cause it to move that fast. This leads to the conclusion that is more matter than what we can see, so if it is invisible then it must not interact with any of the electromagnetic spectrum and therefore does not give off or reflect light. This theory that there are “dark matter halos”[ii]that gives extra mass and therefore gravity to celestial bodies was first proposed by Freeman K.C.

BiSci2Zwicky was also the first to posit the idea of gravitational lensing or strong lensing[iii]. Where if a more distant galaxy was blocked by a closer galaxy cluster, the massive mass in the cluster could shift the space around it, bending, warping or even magnifying the image of the galaxy. This would produce an image of two nearly identical galaxies. This theory was a direct application of Einstein’s theory of special relativity. Abell 2477 or the Pandoras Cluster[iv] is a large cluster made up of at least four individual clusters. The galaxies themselves make up 5% of the mass, whilst the gases make up around 20%, which leaves 75% of it dark matter. The image to the left is a picture of the Abell galaxy cluster that took 50 hours of exposer to take, it is over 12 billion light years away. It contains images of thousands of galaxies that have been warped and curved under the effect of gravitational lensing.

BiSci3WIMPs are currently one of leading theoretical candidates for dark matter, it stands for weakly interacting massive particles, meaning that they give a massive gravitational pull, but they hardly interact with any other particles. The lightest neutralino is an ideal candidate for what WIMPs are as they are stable, heavy and light. As WIMPs do not interact often they are very hard to detect, but there are a few detectors.

The Large Underground Xenon experiment, or LUX is one such detector[v]. It is taking on the challenge to dectect dark matter by detecting the photons given off through collisions with xenon particles. The detector is around 1.5 km underground is an old abandoned gold mine in North Dekota’s Homestake Mine. The reason it is so far underground it to block out most of the Cosmic rays, as the electrons or protons might collide with the xenon and be mistaken as dark matter. On the surface around three cosmic rays pass through you hand a second, compared to one a year deep cavern where LUX sits.

BiSci4As it can be seen on the right the detector consists of a giant vat containing 300 tonnes of ultra pure water, which has been treated to keep unwanted radioactive particles, as well as cosmic rays, from interfering with the equipment – in which there is a 2m tall titanium cryostat with double walls. The outer tank creates a vacuum, to further prevent interference, and the inner tank contains 400kg of Liquid and gas xenon and 122 photomultiplier tubes. The idea is that when a dark matter particle – that is passing through earth – comes into contact with a nucleus of a xenon atom it will give off a photon as well as some electrons, the photon would then be detected by one of the photomultipliers, which can detect even a single photon. Gaitskell who leads the project says “I’m optimistic that we have built a detector which has a considerably better sensitivity then anything we’ve built before”. Yet the magazine this articles is from was dated August 2012 and I have not yet heard of any ground breaking results.

BiSci5There is another detector which begins it search for dark matter this summer (2015) it is called DEAP[vi], the Dark Matter Experiment using Argon Pulse-shape discrimination. Just as the LUX experiment it is underground DEAP is too, however DEAP 2km underground a frozen lake in an old abandoned Nickle mine in Canada. It is a massive 3.4 m ball suspending from the celling by a steel neck as seen to the left. It contains around 3 tonnes of argon, which is about 7.5 more than in the LUX experiment. It uses the same theory that when a WIMP interacts it will give off a photon which can be detected, the difference is there is a larger total mass so collisions are more likely to happen. “Most theoretical model predictions give a WIMP mass that is greater than 100 gigaelectronvolts, which happens to be a mass range where DEAP is more sensitive compared to other experiments,” says Mark Kos when asked why this experiment will succeed where others have failed, he also adds “When it starts running it will be the biggest dark matter detector in the world.” Only time will tell, if you want to get some extra information and a quick video about dark matter itself go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kCtiOS_F_M

[v] Article in a Focus article names “Digging for Dark Matter” by Hazel Muir

 

A Day at Wired magazine’s event ‘Next generation 2015’

By Lara Loasby

Wired magazine - Lara LoasbyWired magazine publishes on technology innovation and the use of technology to help the planet in the coming years. Every year this magazine hosts an event for teenagers from 12 – 18 in the hope of inspiring them in the world of technology and show them the latest and the best in the world of technology.

When I found out about the event a couple of months ago I was instantly excited by the idea of a day geared to inspire young teenagers.

The day started when we collected our passes, mine showed my chosen workshop, ‘Learn to Code’. We were then shown in to the interactive zone where I had my first experience with virtual reality – seeing what happens through the eyes of different animals in the forest. I saw through the eyes of a midge, frog, dragon fly and an owl, and for all of them except the frog I had a small backpack that would vibrate to simulate wings. It was really strange not seeing my own body, I couldn’t even see my hands. My favourite animal was the owl because it sees loads of dots which shrink to become the object it is looking at, flying over the canopy was amazing!

We were then taken in to the main stage and the presentations began. The first one was by Sophie Scott, a neuro science innovator, called ‘The Secret of Laughter’. It was really interesting talking about the way laughter is produced. She said there had been hundreds of thousands of articles written about fear, but only 140 written about laughter, five of which were written by her.  She surprised me by saying that ‘laughter is actually trying to kill’ us by squeezing all the air out of our lungs and that it can’t co-exist with breathing or talking. She said that when laughter is competing in your body with talking and breathing, no matter how hard you try, laughter will always come up on top.

The next talk was by an astrophysicist who works with the European Space Agency who talked about making rockets faster and more proficient. Later, another rocket scientist spoke about Rosseta, the probe that was sent 10 years ago to land another, smaller probe called Phelis. I found out that we are desperately trying to learn more about comets as we know very little, and landing a probe onto a comet takes ten years.

Then it was time for lunch and I had to go to my coding workshop. I left Dad with the mobile controlled cars and went to the ‘Make a Space’ lab where I was greeted by a very nice man who was going to be my instructor.  I was sat down in front of a computer with a keyboard, and a small panel in which I could attach wires and LED lights and programme them to flash in different patterns. There was also a robot arm next to me and a box of parts that I could place in the panel. It was only a 45 minute session so I got to work instantly and during this time I made three lights flash independently, made the robotic arm move and got a bright red circle on the screen to shrink and grow depending on where my hand was.

Afterwards, I had another experience with virtual reality where I was placed on a board, my hands and feet were placed on two poles which were suspended from my body. Below me was a small semicircle that allowed me to tilt my body forwards, backwards and side to side. They then placed the headset over my eyes and suddenly I was flying an aeroplane through an arctic mountain range. I flew over mountains and the sea and there was a canyon set out like a race course so if you chose to, you could actually fly though it and try to get the fastest time.

I learnt so much about what is going to happen to our world in the next twenty years, and also what is being made and what we can expect to see in stores in the next few years. It was probably one of the best days of my life!