Category Archives: Science

Dr. John Emsley teaches Sheffield students the science of looking good

Dr. John Emsley answers a question after the talk

Acclaimed science writer and broadcaster Dr. John Emsley talked to University of Sheffield students about the science of beauty yesterday evening.

The event was organised by Sheffield-based charity Science Brainwaves and was attended by 110 people.

Chemical romance

Dr. Emsley’s talk covered everything from hair dyes to Viagra, with occasional musical accompaniment from Take That, Katie Melua, Blondie and others.

“I’ve got background music in some of my slides to keep people awake,” he explained.

He listed the dizzying number of ingredients in some modern cosmetics such as facial creams and lipsticks, and explained the purpose of some of the chemical components that go in to such products.

Amongst the most interesting revelations of the evening was the negligible difference between factors 15, 30 and 50 sun screen. Dr. Emsley said that they respectively block 93%, 97% and 98% of UV rays.

“Don’t buy anything expensive over factor 15,” he suggested.

Science ‘can change the world’

After the talk Dr. Emsley told TGS News that he’s “trying to persuade people that chemistry is not the science that people are afraid of.

“People don’t realise just how important chemistry has been in delivering the goods people are getting.

“We’ve got science that can change the world.”

The event’s organiser was the outgoing Director of Science Brainwaves, 25-year-old University of Sheffield PhD researcher Tacita Nye.

On the event she said: “It went really well – we had a fantastic turn out, more than we were thinking.

“Over a hundred people have come to learn about chemistry and the science of beauty. It’s fantastic.”

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CERN scientist shares Higgs Boson evidence at the Showroom Cinema

Professor Dan Tovey speaking at the Showroom Cinema in Sheffield

CERN physicist Professor Dan Tovey from the University of Sheffield spoke at the Showroom Cinema today about the emerging evidence supporting the existence of the Higgs Boson particle.

The evidence has been accumulated by a tracking detector inside the Large Hadron Collider, which is located near Geneva in Switzerland.

The detector was partly built by the University of Sheffield and can take up to 40 million ‘snapshots’ of the experiment per second.

Hints of the particle

The Higgs Boson isn’t detected directly. Its existence is inferred from examining the debris left after collisions between protons travelling at close to the speed of light.

The mass of the Higgs Boson is unknown, but certain ranges of mass have been ruled out.

Experiments have been run to detect a Higgs Boson with a mass below 120 GeV (gigaelectronvolts) and above 130 GeV, with no indication of the particle’s existence.

Hints of the Higgs Boson are starting to surface within the remaining range of mass at around 125 GeV.

‘Very exciting’

At the end of 2011, two particles known as Z-bosons were observed during a collision.

The Z-bosons have now been observed emerging in pairs from collisions on three separate occasions.

Professor Tovey explained that seeing these particles in pairs is the “smoking gun” for the Higgs Boson.

“It’s getting very exciting,” he said.

“We may be on the brink of discovering the Higgs Boson.”

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