Bibiana Campos Seijo


 It’s good news!! Chemistry World has been shortlisted for best specialist site for journalism in the Online Media Awards. The awards are well known within the media industry and nominees in other categories include Channel 4 News, Sky News, Al-Jazeera English and the BBC.

Chemistry World is in good company in the specialist category and faces tough competition from the Press Gazette, the Guardian data website and Nursing Times.

The awards ceremony will take place in London on 12 June and we will know then whether we won or not. Wish us luck!

Bibiana Campos Seijo

PS: For the full list of nominations and to see who we are up against you can go here.

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I’ve recently heard of a competition called I’m a scientist – Get me out of here and I must say that I love the concept. Basically, it is a free online event a little bit like an X Factor-style (yes, I know, shameful but I do watch it) competition for scientists, where students are the judges. 

How does it work? Scientists put up a profile on the I’m a Scientist website where students then ask questions and challenge them over fast-paced online live chats.  Overall, over a two week-period (17–28 June), there will be around an hour of live text chats  and an hour answering questions each day so it is a fun way of developing communication skills, gaining a fresh perspective on your research, and finding out what young people think about science and the role of scientists.

The objective is to get school students to meet and interact with scientists and it works very well. Plus everything happens on the web, so participants can join in without leaving their desk. In addition, students have the option to vote and the winning scientist gets £500 to spend on science communication. Not bad!

 A number of Societies and professional bodies are supporting the competition and the Royal Society of Chemistry, for example, is sponsoring the Energy Zone, which will cover the science of and issues relating to maintaining a supply of affordable, secure energy. 

Scientists who want to take part need to apply before 6 May 2013.

Students who want to take part need to get their teacher to sign up asap.

Good luck and happy chatting to all!

Bibiana Campos Seijo

 

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A couple of days ago I travelled to Duisburg in Germany to attend the grand opening of Shimadzu‘s Laboratory World. This refurbishment project, which involved the remodelling of their existing facilities into state-of-the art labs and seminar space, has taken several months to complete and marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of Shimadzu Europe.

Shimadzu representatives at opening of Laboratory World

The event was attended among others by Akira Nakamoto, President of Shimadzu Corporation, and Kiyoshi Koinuma, Japanese Consul General. Besides the usual formalities (ie speeches, cutting the ribbon, tour of the facilities, etc) we were treated to a cask-breaking Japanese ceremony (pictured) called kagamiwari.

During kagamiwari, our hosts - wearing brightly coloured Happi jackets – broke open a beautiful sealed barrel filled with sake. They then shared it with all guests after serving in square wooden cups known as masu. [Drinking from a square cup is not easy so here's a tip: take sips from the corner of the cup]

To coincide with the opening there were a couple of European product launches (Tracera and Nexera), and I was very interested to hear the latest about LABNIRS, a project in the growing field of brain science. This technology measures brain function using near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) rather than recording electrical activity. More specifically, NIRS measures the changes in concentration between oxidised and deoxidised haemoglobin in the brain. Therefore, when brain activity occurs, this causes a temporal increase in blood pressure, which in turn increases blood circulation resulting in a higher consumption of oxygen and affecting the oxidised/deoxidised haemoglobin ratios.

Shimadzu have been working with the makers of ASIMO, the robot developed by Honda, in informatics research and brain-machine interfacing. Because LABNIRS permits real time NIRS and electroencephalogram measurements and data transfer it is now possible to characterise the brain function of a human while visualising manual actions and then translate these into appropriate signals for robot movement, thus allowing control of the robot’s actions using human thought. The future is here.

 

 Bibiana Campos-Seijo

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Mission controllers at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have turned off some of their instruments for a few weeks and have sent many of their staff on holiday. Communications between Earth and their spacecraft on Mars will diminish during this period. 

But do not fear, this is not an extraordinary event. It happens every two years, lasts for about two weeks and is due to a solar conjunction. To explain it in a few words, it means that Earth and Mars are at opposite sides of the Sun, which is obscuring the two planets and is thus preventing regular communication between us and the red planet. It is an interesting phenomenon and, if you are curious, you can watch this video and find out how it affects the work at Nasa.

In any case, this is the fifth solar conjunction for Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity since its arrival in 2004 and will be the first one for Curiosity.

You would think that with so many Nasa staff on holiday we would hear less about the explorations on the red planet. And you would be so wrong… In fact, taking advantage of the enforced break, institutions worldwide have invited those working on the rovers to give public lectures about their work so there will be plenty of talks about Mars in the coming weeks.

© NASA/JPL-Caltech

At the RSC we couldn’t let this opportunity go by and will be hosting not one but two events with two different speakers from Nasa to discuss the adventures of  Curiosity.

The first of the two talks will be hosted by the Northern Ireland Assembly’s All-Party Group on Science and Technology, in conjunction with Matrix, and will feature a presentation by Nagin Cox, formerly Deputy Head of Engineering for Nasa’s Mars Curiosity Rover. This will be on Monday 15 April from 3.30pm to 5.00pm, in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast. If you live near and want to attend you can register here.

The second event, named Where the streets have no name, will be in London on Thursday 18 April at 6.30pm and will be streamed live online so anyone can watch from anywhere in the world!  Mars rovers’ driver Paolo Bellutta, who also works at Nasa JPL, will talk about his work, and driving Curiosity and other rovers on Mars.

The Chair for the evening will be Quentin Cooper, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Material World, and he’ll be taking questions via @RSC_Comms and #RSCpubliclecture. 

Also, don’t forget you can follow Curiosity and Opportunity via twitter at @MarsCuriosity and @MarsRovers. The planets will soon move away from the conjunction and you will once again be able to receive first-hand information on the latest mission to Mars!

 Chiara Ceci

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Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to come and work for us here at Chemistry World towers? If the thought has ever crossed your mind (or not, it doesn’t offend us if it hasn’t!) this could be your lucky day. We are currently advertising a couple of vacancies not to be missed. Whether you are new to the field of science communication, want to test whether this is the right career for you or you are an experienced journalist we’ve got something for everyone… Read on.

Business editor: We’re looking for an exceptional journalist, familiar with the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, to temporarily manage the business news section and regular business features.

For more info and to apply click here.

Science writer internship: The RSC is looking for a student member to work as a science writer in our editorial office this summer. You will gain experience working for two of our publications: Chemistry World and Education in Chemistry. This eight week position is supported by the Marriott Bequest Trust and will provide a hands-on introduction to the complete editorial process.

For more info and to apply click here. I recommend you also read Patrick’s blog here.

We’re looking for bright, ambitious people who are passionate about Chemistry World and communicating science. If that’s you, get in touch. Follow the links or, if you need more information, contact us at chemistryworld@rsc.org.

Bibiana Campos Seijo

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One of the stories published in the April issue of Chemistry World started a wider conversation about the value, or otherwise, of explosions in chemistry outreach. Do we over rely on flashes and bangs or do chemistry bangs beget engagement?

Copyright M-H Jeeves

The original article, titled On Ilkley Moor bar TNT, appeared on The Last Retort and started with quite a controversial opening paragraph: ’In my opinion, any chemical lecture is greatly enhanced by an explosion.’

This seemed to divide opinion among readers and you can read about the discussion that ensued on Storify or by following #chemexplosions on Twitter….

What’s your view?

Bibiana Campos Seijo

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The Naked Scientists

You will have heard of The Naked Scientists. They do loads of very interesting things but, importantly for Chemistry World, they have been supporting us for years with the recording of our podcasts. Well, now it is our turn to support them so at Chemistry World we have decided to risk leaving our bunker as often as we can (no mean feat!) to take part in their podcasts and radio programmes. We will bring what in our opinion are the most interesting chemical sciences-related stories of the week and discuss them with Chris and his team and guests in as interactive and entertaining  a manner as possible (or so we hope!).

We have already taken part in a few programmes so, for example, you can hear Laura talking about a new marshmallow-like material that can selectively absorb oil (and this is the CW story: Mopping up oil spills with marshmallows), explosion-powered nanorobots  (CW story: Soft robots take a leap forward) or you can listen to me talking about how to sober up inebriated mice (CW story: Enzyme nano-parcels sober up drunken mice).

We hope you enjoy these clips as well as the full recordings and future radio shows – don’t touch that dial!

Bibiana Campos Seijo

PS: How many times can someone say ‘actually’ in one sentence? I’m sure I’ve beaten a record…

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These opportunities don’t come around very often but at Chemistry World we currently have an opening for a Multimedia and online editor. We are looking for someone who will take responsibility for Chemistry World‘s multimedia offering (video and audio inc. podcasts and webinars) acting both as editor and producer of multimedia web content, from conception through filming/recording to editing and posting as well as assisting in the development of existing and new multimedia products.    

You will be a talented science communicator who will take responsibility for conceiving, scripting, producing and coordinating the publication of multimedia content onto the website to ensure Chemistry World‘s online presence remains optimal. The role will involve liaising with the Commercial Sales team to identify commercial opportunities within Chemistry World‘s online/multimedia offering as well as the Magazines platform development team to ensure functionality and design of the site remain up to date and innovative, meeting the needs of the readership. 

You will need to demonstrate excellent communication skills as you will represent the RSC at a variety of scientific conferences and events. Networking skills will also be a requirement to this position.  

You can find more info and apply here.

Bibiana Campos Seijo

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We told you about this last Christmas but a year is a long time so let me remind you again: if you get a tablet device for Christmas, one of the first apps you need to install is the Chemistry World app.

The digital edition of Chemistry World is available from Google Play and iTunes and is free to download for all RSC members and e-members. You can log in, choose the latest issue or a back issue or and swipe through it just like the printed publication. And don’t forget you can download the issue for offline reading at a time that is convenient for you. So get downloading!

Also please do let us know what you think. Any feedback to chemistryworld@rsc.org would be most welcome.

And if you are not yet an RSC member or e-member you can now join via the Chemistry World website at www.chemistryworld.org or on the RSC website at www.rsc.org/membership.

Bibiana Campos Seijo

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In November last year, ahead of Curiosity’s launch, we wrote: ‘This rover – officially named the Mars Science Laboratory, but better known as Curiosity – will carry out the most comprehensive look at Earth’s neighbour to date when it lands on the planet in August 2012.’ (more…)

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