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Celebrating Science

11 September 2008

electron micrograph of bacteria

Scientists from the University have presented their latest research on topics ranging from climate change to treatments for cystic fibrosis at Europe’s largest science festival.

Researchers from the Schools of Biosciences, Psychology and Earth and Ocean Sciences contributed to the BA Festival of Science, which started in Liverpool on September 6 and runs until September 11, 2008.

The event attracts more than 400 of the best scientists and science communicators from home and abroad, providing a platform for them to reveal their latest research developments to a general audience.

Cardiff’s contribution was launched with a presentation by Professor Paul Pearson of the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences. He highlighted the need for urgent action to help tackle global warming, showcasing a collection of new fossils dating from around 55 to 35 million years ago which can usefully inform the current debate about climate change.

The fossils, found as Professor Pearson researched Eocene marine deposits from around the world, reveal that temperatures during that period were as much as 15 degrees warmer than today and that the world had high levels of greenhouse gases – similar to those predicted for the next century unless our emissions are controlled.

Also delivering a talk during the festival was Dr Andrew Livingstone, of the School of Psychology, who explored the motivation behind protests and petitions.

Dr Livingstone focused specifically on the relationship between England and Wales, illustrating how identity and emotions and could colour and shape political action. In conclusion, Dr Livingstone questioned whether more radical responses to the threat that the English and the English language is seen to pose to the Welsh were needed.

A third contribution to the festival came from Dr Eshwar Mahenthiralingam, of the School of Biosciences, who gave a presentation on the genetic disease cystic fibrosis.

His lecture, entitled Cystic Fibrosis: better understanding, better lives, highlighted the use of genetic fingerprinting to track contagious strains and treatment of the illness, as well as painting a picture of how the disease can affect the life of the sufferer and the difficulties associated with attempting to eradicate frequent infection.