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Treading on Eggshells – Behind the Scenes at Cheltenham – Day 5/6

By Nicholas Powell, on 17 June 2012

MRI Cherry

The cherry on top!

By Isabel Christie

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

The Cheltenham Science Festival is drawing to a close and fatigue is beginning to take its toll on the team. As members of the team return home and our numbers dwindle or others lose their voices, we are becoming increasingly desperate when a new group of eager five year olds appear on the horizon. Attempting to explain quantum physics to primary school children has a lasting effect on your morale! However, we remain resilient: the stall is ever popular and today was filled with many magic moments.

Our favourite family returned to scan their home laid eggs. Two days ago, they brought along three eggs of different ages to see whether the yolks grew as the eggs aged. Only, the family arrived to discover that we had cracked one egg because they were too large for the scanner bore!

We thought harder about how to scan the eggs and began carefully removing the eggs shells with the aid of cling film and penknives. Finally, victorious, we managed to scan one egg; we actually broke the second egg in the careful process mentioned previously. We encouraged our new friends that this was the nature of science and that experiments often failed in real labs!


As it was a Saturday, there were many more families today and some children from previous school trips returned for a second attempt at the much loved ‘Guess the Fruit?’ game. One mother guessed the toughest of all slides, the physalis, which was very impressive.

We also had a visit from a young girl who suffered from epilepsy and was due to have an MRI scan next month. We told her all about it and what to expect to allevieate any anxieties she might be having. We actually met many people who knew very little about MRI, many of whom thought they were harmful like x-rays, so hopefully we have been successful in communicating how valuable MRI is.

Finally, the cherry on top was some more excellent scanning! Today we scanned a sardine, walnut, lychee, cherry and even some Lego (to help calibrate the scanner)! Come back tomorrow for our final entry.

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