Report on the FameLab International Final – Part 2

Here comes the second part of my report on the great show on last June 15 at Cheltenham Science Festival: the FameLab International Final. Here you find part 1.

Andrew Steele – UK

Andrew Steele with one big version of 3D cinema glasses

Andrew Steele with one big version of 3D cinema glasses

How science saves your cinema date? Andrew suggested a topic for a conversation to brake the ice at the cinema, right before the movie begin: how do 3D glasses work? Certain that this would be an effective ice-breaking, Andrew explained that 3D movies are recorded with two cameras, located at the same distance of a person eyes. When these two images are projected on a screen, the light from each one of them has to go to the right eye, to be correctly processed by the brain. How science work this out? With many different objects, Andrew moves to the ‘hard part’ of the talk: two different types of polarized light (‘two light flavors’) come to your eyes and are filtered by the glasses you wear. Andrew three minutes had many scientific informations, very well balanced with british humor and excellent body language. Thank to this mix, Andrew won the first prize from the on-line voting audience. Well done!

Didac Carmona – Austria

Didac Carmona and its balloon-cells ready to commit suicide

Didac Carmona and its balloon-cells ready to commit suicide

Million of cells in you body are committing suicide right now. After such frightening entrance, Didac reassure the audience that this is exactly what should happen. The ‘programmed cell death‘, says Didac, is important to keep bad behaving cells from growing out of control and become a tumor. This FameLabbers uses balloons to explain how this suicide work, and why established tumor don’t die: because this system is broken. But Didac brings a solution: in the lab where he works, scientists are trying different natural components to reactivate this suicide mechanism. The fact that Didac brought on stage it’s own work and its ability to explain beautifully such a complex subject, ensured him the victory of FameLab 2012. Very nice talk and rocking biology!

Ramy Kotb – Egypt

Ramy Kotb in the dark to show how we can turn on a lightbulb without cables

Ramy Kotb in the dark to show how we can turn on a lightbulb without cables

How often happens that your mobile run out of battery, and you are far away from a plug? Ramy had this problem right on stage, but since he was in front of the judgers, he could not run away to charge up his phone. With this opening, Ramy revealed that scientist are trying to deliver energy without wires. To make electricity run into a cable, we need a force that pushes electrons to move on, said Ramy, and such force can actually come from big ‘coils’ or ‘antennas’ that generate the right magnetic field to do the ‘magic’. Ramy said that MIT researchers managed to light up a bulb with wireless electricity at a distance of two meters. Tomorrow, suggested Ramy, it may be possible to cover longer distance and get energy from satellites exposed to sun 24/24h. This talked was probably the one more innovating. A very cool idea and intriguing demonstration of this principle with objects on stage.

Dumbrava Stražić – Croatia

Dubrava Stražić uses its good body language to explain the metabolism switch during starvation

Dubrava Stražić uses its good body language to explain the metabolism switch during starvation

If you want to attract your dreaming prince/princess but you feel a bit chubby, do not starve yourself: it will not help. Dubrava gives a terrific talk about the metabolic switches that occur during starvation. When you stop eating for a long while, Dubrava says, the level of sugar in your blood get lower, and your body needs to find something else to produce sugar that doesn’t come from food. The metabolism is a network of reaction, continued Dubrava: if you eat sugars and those are not used, they get converted it into fat, ‘but unfortunately the opposite doesn’t happen, that fats make you sweeter’. Your starved body, indeed, will not burn fat to make energy, Dubrava said: it will rather start to consume proteins: this will lead to the production of different components, among which we find acetone, that will make your breath smell very badly, and make your lover run away from you. This FameLabbers gave an extremely clear and detailed talk, with numerous scientific informations, with a sapient mix of body language and pauses where needed.

to be continued…

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