Friday, 5 August 2016

Day 10: Lectures, Museums, and the International Cabaret

The best part about today was its extraordinary diversity. I started the day off with a lecture on combating blindness, followed it up with an engaging lecture involving loud chemical reactions, spent the afternoon at the Natural History Museum, and finally, had an unforgettable evening at the International Cabaret. 

I thought I would start off with a picture from the end of the day, simply because this photo sums up the joy of the whole day. After the International Cabaret, about twenty of us walked to a nearby ice cream store!

My first lecture of the day was given by Helen Peregrine. The great thing about today's morning lectures was that each speaker is an LIYSF alumni. Helen attended LIYSF 2009, and shared pictures of her in the common room and having lunch on the lawn. Her talk was entitled "Combating Blindness in the Modern World." The majority of her talk was on the medical reasons for contact lenses beyond serving as a substitute for glasses. Depending on the condition, contacts are used to protect damaged corneas, cover up traumatic injuries, help eyes let in the correct amount of light, and to give the cornea the right shape for proper sight. As for the future of contact lenses, research is currently being done on lenses that can measure glucose levels in individuals with diabetes, and others that can deliver drugs directly to the eye. 
After spending the morning discussing eyeballs and the amazing applications of medical contact lenses in restoring sight and quality of life, we had a plenary lecture by Dr. Peter Wothers. He combined lecture material with multiple demonstrations for a lively early afternoon of chemistry! We learned about the history of chemical nomenclature by analyzing the components of hair shampoo. It was such an interesting lecture and he made many connections that I never knew existed. For instance, the country Cyprus is named after copper (copper in Greek sounds a lot like the word cyprus).

Fun fact: Did you know that ingesting the element tellerium will give you bad breath for a year? Garlic bread suddenly doesn't seem so bad now!
Dr. Wothers demonstrated how combinations of chemicals can result in loud booms, bright colors, and bursts of heat. He is extraordinarily passionate about chemistry, and I really enjoyed having a front row seat for this lecture! 

The Natural History Museum in all it's glory!
Here are three really beautiful historic microscopes. The one on the right looks closest to the compound microscopes that we use at UFV. 
I walked through a large butterfly exhibition, where experts offered elucidations on the specimens and answered questions in lots of detail. In addition to butterflies, there was also a collection of wasps and moths, as well as insects and arachnids embedded in resin.   
Here is one of the many dinosaurs found within the NHM. Most were on platforms attached to the ceiling, just like this one. 

There is a very nice garden just outside of the NHM that offers a stunning view of the building. 
Do you remember that I had a surprise from yesterday? This evening at the International Cabaret, myself along with four other LIYSF attendees performed an A Capella version of Yesterday by The Beatles! My group included Shu from Japan, Francois from France, Hadas from Israel, and Vincent from China. It all started when Shu and I were talking and found out that we both like singing. From there, we brought others into the group, rehearsed for a couple of hours, made some harmonies, and performed!
Once our visits to the Natural History Museum and Science Museum were complete, all performers had an early dinner and met at the Old Chelsea Hall about twenty minutes away from the Imperial.  
The glorious Old Chelsea Hall. Wow, what a privilege to sing in a group with students representing five countries to an audience representing 75! Just before we got on stage we were told that there were over 400 people in the audience.  

We called ourselves The International Beatles!

This is Maryam from Pakistan wearing her beautiful traditional clothing. She performed a traditional Pakistani dance with around ten fellow students from Pakistan, and the result was wonderful to watch. Maryam is a fourth-year medical student in Pakistan!

These lovely girls are all from Pakistan, and both girls directly to my right and left are medical students. It has been really interesting to compare the medical school journey with students from other countries. Many go directly into medical school from high school, and are really surprised when I tell them I'm doing an undergrad degree first. 

Here is Vincent having fun with a traditional Indonesian instrument. The Indonesians put on a phenomenal performance using these; each person has a different one and each plays a different note. You could compare it to each person having control over one key on a piano, and to play a song each note is controlled by a different person!
Today I learned about methods to combat blindness, and the history behind the names of elements early in history. I saw butterflies from around the globe preserved beautifully and dinosaurs towering above me. And lastly, I had the amazing honor of performing with four students, that before ten days ago were complete strangers!

It's a marvelous thing, this LIYSF. I'm looking forward to another full day of learning tomorrow. Until then, 

- Vivienne   

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