A capacity audience converged upon the Oculus at the AVDC Offices in Aylesbury for Investigation and Discovery, an event organised by the Current Affairs sub-committee. BFWI was able to offer a free entrance to everyone thanks to a generous grant from The Institute of Physics who wanted to encourage interest in science among the general public.WI members had shown last year that this was the sort of meeting which they wanted to attend.
Professor Carolin Crawford started us off on a voyage round Saturn, its rings and moons. One could see that everyone was fascinated by the photographs from the Cassini probe and I am sure I was not the only person holding their breath as we parachuted down through the rings to land in what might be a dried up river bed on one of Saturn's moons.How can the space team contemplate the probe's final suicide mission to crash into Saturn itself in a few years time? We need a SAVE THE PROBE campaign as thanks for all the information that it has sent back to Earth! When someone asked how long it took to receive an answer from Cassini and was told about 70 minutes there were audible rueful comments comparing it to Broadband.
After that we were in the air again as Dr John Methven described how meteorologists fly into cyclones and study high impact weather. There were wonderful shots of weather fronts chasing each other across the Atlantic and the inside of the special aircraft fitted with computers and electronic gadgets. Personally I was rather relieved that we didn't see the effects of the turbulence aboard as I would have needed a sofa to hide behind.
After lunch Dr Kat Arney from Cancer Research UK who is an information and communications officer for the charity, gave us an entertaining account of Cancer:past and present. Entertaining and cancer are not words that usually sit together but that was what it was.Kat was so dynamic and so positive in her approach that no one could fail to be inspired to fight against the disease and promote research. Did you know that some of the Egyptian mummies revealed the presence of cancer? And we saw pictures of fleas suffering from cancer in the eye.Kat stressed that there was much yet to do but also she traced the successes already achieved. I hope she didn't catch anyone enjoying a smoke in the car park over lunch!
Finally Tracy Alexander returned with another talk about the difficulty for forensic teams when they tackle Cold Case Investigations. This was entertaining too as we were helped to see tiny spots of dried blood on jackets and heard of the exhaustive tests conducted on articles of clothing and weapons stored in the secret vaults of murder enquiry evidence.Even villains from pre-DNA days cannot be sure that someone from forensics will not come knocking at their door.
It had been a wonderful day, lots to think about and well worth being inside rather than out on perhaps the first day of spring. There was a sting in the tail though because as we left there was a heavy downpour and hail followed by a triple rainbow. Now we were able to imagine how that would have looked on John Methven's charts.