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Three eggs, two eyeballs and one Minister of Science – Behind the Scenes at Cheltenham – Day 3/6

By news editor, on 15 June 2012

Katy Ordidge and David Willetts

Katy Ordidge gives a speech alongside David Willetts

  Katy Ordidge, UCL CABI

Behind the Scenes at Cheltenham is a daily blog from the UCL CABI team at Cheltenham Science Festival. Every day, a member of the team will be talking about their experiences of running a stand.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6

What a day in the Discover Zone! Today, we were surprised by a visit from the Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts.

I was chosen to represent the Discover Zone and talk to Mr Willetts about why we love communicating science with kids. I started by debunking some myths around MRI scanners: just for the record folks, there is no harmful radiation in MRI scanning, and it’s completely safe (as long as you don’t walk in to the scanner room with any metallic objects!).

After my speech and a whirlwind tour, Mr Willetts was off again and I returned to our stand, where today we were scanning some new delights, other than just fruit and veg…

It was an early morning start for my fellow intrepid scientists Isabel Christie and Nick Powell who got up at the crack of 9am-ish to source sardines, a shrimp, an oyster and some other intriguing delicacies to put in our MRI scanner. Many thanks to Watts Butchers in Cheltenham for donating two pig eyeballs for scanning – what a haul of treasure!

We threw one of the eyeballs straight into the scanner and kept one back for dangling in front of the children. Reactions were a mix of curiosity and horror (especially when my colleague Rupy Ghatrora covered her eye with her hand and claimed we had stolen the other eye for our experiment). This eyeball image ended up as the best of the day:

An MRI image of a pig's eyeball

Later on we were impressed when a lovely local family showed up with a fully formed experiment involving three eggs of various ages. The hypothesis: Does the yolk get bigger as the egg ages? We will be scanning these soon – watch this space!

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