Tag Archives: Luke Farnish

Citizen Science: What it is and How to Get Involved

By Luke Farnish

‘Stand on the shoulders of giants’. This is the slogan of Google Scholar, the Google search for scientific, peer-reviewed articles – and scientists do stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before them, those names immortalised by their incredible achievements. But, equally so, scientific understanding is built from a foundation of hard graft. To generate large datasets, scientists rely on the dedication of members of the public to record information for them. This is called citizen science.

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The Science of Christmas

 

By Luke Farnish and David Winlo

It’s that time of year again. Secret Santas are being set up, house Christmas dinners being planned, and many a slightly frozen student is heading to Unio for a seasonal hot drink. In other words, it is December, and Christmas will soon be upon us. Here at The Broad we celebrate Christmas in various ways, and we scientists are no different. So here is a scientific explanation of some, if not all things Christmas.

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A Street Cat Named Bob Review

By Luke Farnish

As a lover of small budget, feel-good, indie films, I leapt at the ‘chance to see a street cat named Bob’. The film, closely based on the book of the same name, itself a written account of the life of the main character, centres on James Bowen (Luke Treadaway), a London busker and recovering heroin addict. He’s given a lucky break when his support worker, Val (Joanne Froggatt, Anna Bates in Downton Abbey) finds him emergency housing. A short time later, James’ life is changed when he has a break in, only to find the trespasser is no thief, but a ginger cat who a neighbour (Ruta Gedmintas) names Bob (played by several cats, but most notably himself). The film then shows how James’ life slowly improves by having Bob around, through highs and lows until ending on the high of publishing the book that the film is based on, with some special guests in the final scenes.

As mentioned, this is my kind of film. The budget was estimated to be around $8,000,000 (or about 1/30th the cost of Star Wars VII) but the relatively low budget does not show. Although, while watching it’s hard to ignore the fact that the cast is small and the use of locations limited, as well as James’ flat being hardly full of expensive props, you can’t help but feel that this sort of film plays to the strengths of the indie genre and avoids having to pay for expensive CGI and other effects.

The casting choices are interesting as, excluding Joanne Froggatt and Anthony Head (who plays James’ father), the major actors are relatively unknown. Despite this, the performances by all involved were compelling and emotive, with Treadaway’s performance being of particular note as all of the songs shown while busking are performed by him. However, all the actors are overshadowed by one debut performance, that of Bob himself. Bob comes across as by far the most deeply thought about and complex character of the film. His curious and loving nature making even the most stone-hearted viewer warm to him. While several cats portray Bob and his antics, the real Bob is among them too – something rarely done with such a film. It’s rare for a film that is ‘based on a true story’ to feel so much like it really is. It’s hard to find any element of the film that does not seem believable even if some parts are obviously slightly edited to improve flow.

There are, as with any film, issues. Pacing is certainly one. The film moves at a relatively even pace which is not very typical for a genre that enjoys taking the viewer on an emotional roller-coaster and that pace is perhaps a little slower than a modern audience might be expecting.

Overall, though, this film ticks all the right boxes for an evening of movie delight. An easy four stars for a film about nine lives.

Image “That London” by Bryan Ledgard is licensed under CC BY 2.0

An Alternate View

By Luke Farnish

Humans have always loved drawing maps, ever since the Greeks and their contemporaries began to explore the world, we have recorded the lands we have seen on sheets of paper. However, the most important fact about any map of the Earth is that it is wrong. It is impossible to completely accurately plot a spherical surface onto a flat rectangle; therefore, all maps are wrong. The issue is, our current most used projection is very wrong. This projection you will have seen on the walls of your old geography classroom is called the Mercator projection and was drawn up in 1569. Continue reading An Alternate View

Help a Hedgehog: Advice For Bonfire Builders

By Luke FarnishThere’s a chill in the air and the days are growing shorter which can mean only one thing: celebrations are just around the corner. As pumpkins and spider webs litter people’s front windows, many will be reciting that age old rhyme, ‘Remember, remember, the fifth of November’. As you dust off that box of sparklers you’re not sure will even light and sort through your clothes to see which you don’t mind burning on the guy, spare a thought for the hedgehogs of your neighbourhood. Continue reading Help a Hedgehog: Advice For Bonfire Builders

What an Age We Live In

By Luke Farnish

What time is it?

The answer may seem simple, just look over at your clock for the time, your calendar for the date and year. But for geologists, things are not so easy. The Earth’s geological history is split into segments of varying length, from aeons which can last five hundred million years or more to epochs and ages that can last just a few thousand. Pick up any off the shelf text book on geology and it should proudly claim that we currently live in the Holocene epoch, an epoch that began somewhere around ten to twelve thousand years ago. But now this view has begun to change.

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When the Whales Came

 

By Luke Farnish

Few animals fill us with more awe than whales, the majestic but gentle giants of the seas. Seeing one of these magnificent creatures stranded on a beach is distressing, but so far this year thirty sperm whales have been stranded on beaches across the North Sea from France to Helgoland. The first to be washed up this year in the UK was at Hunstanton, not far from UEA on the north Norfolk coast. Unfortunately all the UKs washed up sperm whales have now died. 

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