April 12th 1961 – Yuri Gagarin is about to see what no other person has seen in the history of humanity – the Earth from space. In the next 108 minutes he’ll see more than most people do in a lifetime. What sights awaited the first cosmonaut silently gliding over the world below? What was it like to view the oceans and continents sailing by from such a height?
In a unique collaboration with the European Space Agency and the Expedition 26/ 27 crew of the International Space Station, this fascinating new film has been created to give an insight to what Yuri Gagarin first witnessed fifty years ago.
By matching the orbital path of the Space Station, as closely as possible, to that of Gagarin’s Vostok 1 spaceship and filming the same vistas of the Earth through the new giant cupola window, astronaut Paolo Nespoli and documentary film maker Christopher Riley, have captured a new digital high definition view of the Earth below, half a century after Gagarin first witnessed it.
Weaving these new views together with historic, recordings of Gagarin from the time, (subtitled in Englsih) and an original score by composer Philip Sheppard, the spellbinding film has been created to share with people around the world on this historic anniversary.
Watched over 3.3 million times on YouTube and screened publically at over 1600 venues in more than 130 countries, First Orbit has now been translated by the fans into more than 30 languages.
Due to popular demand the film now has a multi-language version on DVD and Blu-Ray.
On the 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space when he was launched aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft.
After Soviet Union decided to launch a human being to space, a secret nationwide selection process was started in 1960 and Gagarin was chosen with 19 other pilots. Gagarin was further selected for an elite training group known as the ‘Sochi Six’, who would make up the first cosmonauts of the Vostok programme.
Gagarin and the other prospective cosmonauts were subjected to experiments designed to test physical and psychological endurance; he also underwent training for the upcoming flight.
Out of the 20 selected, the eventual choices for the first launch were Gagarin and Gherman Titov, because of their performance in training, as well as their physical characteristics — space was at a premium in the small Vostok cockpit and both men were rather short. Gagarin was 1.57 metres tall.
Stephen Hawking’s ashes will be interred close to the grave of another of Britain’s greatest physicists, Sir Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey.
His funeral will take place at Cambridge University’s Church on Easter Saturday (31.03.18) and family, friends and colleagues are being invited to the private service.
Hawking’s children said they had chosen to hold the funeral in Cambridge because it is the city that he loved so much and which loved him.
Stephen Hawking was a fellow at Cambridge College for more than 52 years.
Professor Hawking who died on the 14th March 2018, will have his ashes interred in Westminster Abbey later in the year.
The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall said:
“It is entirely fitting that the remains of Professor Stephen Hawking are to be buried in the Abbey, near those of distinguished fellow scientists”.
Sir Isaac Newton was buried in the Abbey in 1727 and Charles Darwin was buried close to Newton in 1882.
Stephen Hawking lived and worked in Cambridge for over 50 years.
We had a great time with 6th Colwyn Bay Scouts on the 13.03.18 – celebrating British Science Week by running our Balloon cars workshop!
British Science Week (run by the British Science Association) is a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths – featuring entertaining and engaging events and activities across the UK for people of all ages.
British Science Week provides a platform to stimulate and support teachers, STEM professionals, science communicators and the general public to produce and participate in STEM events and activities.
The Scouts were challenged to design and build their own balloon cars!
During the session we ran the fastest balloon car competition!
We timed every balloon car on our ramp to the finish line and recorded all the times!
It was wonderful to see the Scouts being competitive – but helping each other at the same time!
Even though it was a competition, all the Scouts helped each other while building their cars!
The winner was……..
Kosi’s car (SSC Wonder) had a fantastic time of 2.82 seconds!
Well done to all of the Scouts – you all built amazing cars!
Professor Stephen Hawking, a man who defined all odds – has died aged 76.
He was one of the most respected and best known scientists of his age.
The British scientist was famed for his work with black holes and relativity – he also wrote several popular science books including – A Brief History of Time.
He received honorary degrees, medals, prizes and awards throughout his career and was honoured with a CBE in 1982.
At the age of 22 Prof Hawking was given only a few years to live after being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease.
The illness left him in a wheelchair and largely unable to speak except through a voice synthesiser
Prof Hawking was the first to set out a theory of cosmology as a union of relativity and quantum mechanics.
He also discovered that black holes leak energy and fade to nothing – a phenomenon that would later become known as Hawking radiation.
Through his work with mathematician Sir Roger Penrose, he demonstrated that Einstein’s general theory of relativity implies space and time would have a beginning in the Big Bang and an end in black holes.
The scientist gained popularity outside the academic world and appeared in several TV shows including The Simpsons, Red Dwarf and The Big Bang Theory.
In 2007, British physicist Stephen Hawking took a Parabolic flight (a specially modified jet that dives through the sky to give passengers an experience of zero gravity)!
British astronaut Tim Peake said Prof Hawking “He inspired generations to look beyond our own blue planet and expand our understanding of the universe”.
He added: “His personality and genius will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with his family”.
According to the Women in Science and Engineering (Wise) campaign’s latest analysis of UK labour market statistics, women make up just 23% of those in core science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) jobs.
Plus, there are still considerably more boys studying science than girls – the latest Higher Education and Skills Agency (HESA) statistics showed that only 25% of graduates from UK universities with degrees in science are women.
This International Women’s Day – we are highlighting the incredible achievements of some of the most influential and inspiring women in STEM….
1. Helen Sharman-The first UK astronaut & first woman to visit the Mir Space Station!
Helen Patricia Sharman is a British Chemist who became the first British astronaut and the first woman to visit the Mir Space Station in 1991!
Sharman was born in Grenoside, Sheffield on the 30th May 1963.
After responding to a radio advertisement asking for applicants to be astronauts for a mission to the Mir Space Station, Helen Sharman was selected for the mission live on ITV, on 25th of November 1989, ahead of nearly 13,000 other applicants.
Before launch, Sharman spent 18 months in intensive flight training in Star City.
2. Katherine Johnson – Calculated the trajectory of the 1961 flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space!
Katherine Johnson is a former NASA mathematician.Born on August 26, 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Johnson began her career in 1953 at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the agency that preceded NASA, one of a number of African-American women hired to work as “computers” in what was then their Guidance and Navigation Department.
Working at NASA Langley Research Center from 1953 until her retirement in 1986, Johnson made critical technical contributions which included, calculating the trajectory of the 1961 flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space.
She also played a crucial role in verifying the calculations made by early electronic computers of John Glenn’s 1962 launch to orbit and the 1969 Apollo 11 trajectory to the moon.
Johnson worked on the Space Shuttle Program and the Earth Resources Satellite and encouraged students to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology engineering and mathematics).
3. Mary Jackson – NASA’S First Black Female Engineer! (1921 – 2005)
After two years in the computing pool, Mary Jackson received an offer to work for engineer Kazimierz Czarnecki in the 4-foot by 4-foot Supersonic Pressure Tunnel, a 60,000 horsepower wind tunnel capable of blasting models with winds approaching twice the speed of sound. Czarnecki offered Mary hands-on experience conducting experiments in the facility, and eventually suggested that she enter a training program that would allow her to earn a promotion from mathematician to engineer. Trainees had to take graduate level math and physics in after-work courses managed by the University of Virginia. Because the classes were held at then-segregated Hampton High School, however, Mary needed special permission from the City of Hampton to join her white peers in the classroom. Never one to flinch in the face of a challenge, Mary completed the courses, earned the promotion, and in 1958 became NASA’s first black female engineer. That same year, she co-authored her first report, Effects of Nose Angle and Mach Number on Transition on Cones at Supersonic Speeds.
Mary Jackson began her engineering career in an era in which female engineers of any background were a rarity; in the 1950s, she very well may have been the only black female aeronautical engineer in the field.
It’s easy to overlook the people who paved the way for the agency’s current robust and diverse workforce and leadership. Those who speak of NASA’s pioneers rarely mention the name Dorothy Vaughan, but as the head of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA’s) segregated West Area Computing Unit from 1949 until 1958, Vaughan was both a respected mathematician and NASA’s first African-American manager.
Dorothy Vaughan came to the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in 1943, during the height of World War II, leaving her position as the math teacher at Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville, VA to take what she believed would be a temporary war job. Two years after President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 into law, prohibiting racial, religious and ethnic discrimination in the country’s defence industry, the Laboratory began hiring black women to meet the skyrocketing demand for processing aeronautical research data. Urgency and twenty-four hour shifts prevailed – as did Jim Crow laws which required newly-hired “coloured” mathematicians to work separately from their white female counterparts. Dorothy Vaughan was assigned to the segregated “West Area Computing” unit, an all-black group of female mathematicians, who were originally required to use separate dining and bathroom facilities. Over time, both individually and as a group, the West Computers distinguished themselves with contributions to virtually every area of research at Langley.
5. Libby Jackson – The Human Spaceflight and Microgravity Programme Manager for the UK Space Agency!
Libby Jackson is currently the Human Spaceflight and Microgravity Programme Manager for the UK Space Agency, so she is responsible for the UK’s Human Spaceflight and Microgravity programmes on the International Space Station (ISS).
She used to be a flight director on space missions, ensuring that everyone worked together and everything went according to plan.
Libby attended space school when she was 15, and that made her realise there was a space industry you could work in. Then in Year 12, she had to do a work placement and herself and a friend wrote to NASA – They never expected to get in, but to there amazement they were invited to do two weeks at the Johnson Space Center!
Libby has recently published a book – A Galaxy of Her Own: Amazing Stories of Women in Space
From small steps to giant leaps, A Galaxy of Her Own tells fifty stories of inspirational women who have been fundamental to the story of humans in space, from scientists to astronauts to some surprising roles in between.
6. Valentina Tereshkova – First Woman in Space!
Interested in parachuting from a young age, Tereshkova began skydiving at a local flying club, making her first jump at the age of 22 in May 1959. At the time of her selection as a cosmonaut, she was working as a textile worker in a local factory.
After the first human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin, the selection of female cosmonaut trainees was authorised by the Soviet government, with the aim of ensuring the first woman in space was a Soviet citizen.
On 16 February 1962, out of more than 400 applicants, five women were selected to join the cosmonaut corps: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Irina Solovyova, Zhanna Yorkina, Valentina Ponomaryova and Valentina Tereshkova. The group spent several months in training, which included weightless flights, isolation tests, centrifuge tests, 120 parachute jumps and pilot training in jet aircraft.
Four candidates passed the final examinations in November 1962, after which they were commissioned as lieutenants in the Soviet air force (meaning Tereshkova also became the first civilian to fly in space, since technically these were only honorary ranks).
Originally a joint mission was planned that would see two women launched on solo Vostok flights on consecutive days in March or April 1963. Tereshkova, Solovyova and Ponomaryova were the leading candidates. It was intended that Tereshkova would be launched first in Vostok 5, with Ponomaryova following her in Vostok 6.
However, this plan was changed in March 1963: Vostok 5 would carry a male cosmonaut, Valeri Bykovsky, flying the mission with a woman in Vostok 6 in June. The Russian space authorities nominated Tereshkova to make the joint flight.
Her daughter Elena, was the first child born to parents who had both been in space.
7. Sally Ride – First American Female Astronaut! (1951 – 2012)
One of six women selected in NASA’s 1978 astronaut class, Sally Ride was the first of them to fly. When she rode aboard the space shuttle Challenger as it lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman in space and captured the nation’s attention and imagination as a symbol of the ability of women to break barriers. As one of the three mission specialists on the STS-7 mission, she played a vital role in helping the crew deploy communications satellites, conduct experiments and make use of the first Shuttle Pallet Satellite. Her pioneering voyage and remarkable life helped, as President Barack Obama said soon after her death last summer, “inspire generations of young girls to reach for the stars” for she “showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve.”
Fascinated by science from a young age, she pursued the study of physics, along with English, in school.
As she was graduating from Stanford University with a Ph.D. in physics, having done research in astrophysics and free electron laser physics, Ride noticed a newspaper ad for NASA astronauts. She turned in an application, along with 8,000 other people, and was one of only 35 chosen to join the astronaut corps. Joining NASA in 1978, she served as the ground-based capsule communicator, or capcom, for the second and third space shuttle missions (STS- 2 and STS-3) and helped with development of the space shuttle’s robotic arm.
.Retiring from NASA in 1987, she became a science fellow at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University and, in 1989, joined the University of California-San Diego as a professor of physics and director of the California Space Institute. In 2001, she founded her own company, Sally Ride Science, to pursue her passion for motivating girls and boys to study the STEM fields-science, technology, engineering and math. The company creates innovative classroom materials, programs and professional development training for teachers.
In 2003 she also served on the presidential commission investigating the Columbia accident (the only person to serve on both commissions).
In addition to this work, she wrote a number of science books for children, including The Third Planet, which won the American Institute of Physics Children’s Science Writing Award in 1995.
In 2003, Ride was added to the Astronaut Hall of Fame. The Astronaut Hall of Fame honours astronauts for their hard work.
7. Roma Agrawal – A structural engineer on The Shard!
A structural engineer with a physics degree. She has always loved science and design and found engineering to be a great combination between the two.
She has designed bridges, skyscrapers and sculptures with signature architects over her ten year career. She spent six years working on The Shard, the tallest building in Western Europe, and designed the foundations and the ‘Spire’.
In addition to winning industry awards, her career has been extensively featured in the media, including on BBC World News, BBC Daily Politics, TEDx, The Evening Standard, The Sunday Times, Guardian, The Telegraph, Independent, Cosmopolitan and Stylist Magazines, documentaries and in online blogs. She was the only woman featured on Channel 4’s documentary on the Shard, ‘The Tallest Tower’. Roma was part of M&S’s ‘Leading Ladies’ campaign 2014 and was described as a top woman tweeter by the Guardian
Outside work, Roma promotes engineering, scientific and technical careers to young people and particularly to under-represented groups such as women. She also engages about these topics with the Institutions and government to understand and develop an effective way forward. Roma has spoken to over 3000 people at over 50 schools, universities and organisations across the country and organisations across the country and abroad!
Roma has recently released a book – Built: The Hidden Stories Behind our Structures
A unique look at how construction has evolved from the mud huts of our ancestors to towers of steel that reach into the sky.
8. Ada Lovelace – The first ever computer programmer! (1815 – 1852)
The idea that the 1840s saw the birth of computer science as we know it today may seem like a preposterous one, but long before the Bombe, the Colossus or the Harvard Mark I – long before any computer was actually built – came a remarkable woman whose understanding of computing remained unparalleled and unappreciated for 100 years. Brought up in an era when women were routinely denied education, she saw further into the future than any of her male counterparts, and her work influenced the thinking of one of World War II’s greatest minds.
Fearing that Ada would inherit her father’s volatile ‘poetic’ temperament, her mother raised her under a strict regimen of science, logic, and mathematics.
Ada herself from childhood had a fascination with machines – designing fanciful boats and steam flying machines, and poring over the diagrams of the new inventions of the Industrial Revolution that filled the scientific magazines of the time.
in 1833, Lovelace’s mentor, the scientist and polymath Mary Sommerville, introduced her to Charles Babbage, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics who had already attained considerable celebrity for his visionary and perpetually unfinished plans for gigantic clockwork calculating machines. Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace both had somewhat unconventional personalities and became close and lifelong friends. Babbage described her as “that Enchantress who has thrown her magical spell around the most abstract of Sciences and has grasped it with a force which few masculine intellects could have exerted over it,” or an another occasion, as “The Enchantress of Numbers”.
In 1842 Lovelace translated a short article describing the Analytical Engine by the italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea, for publication in England. Babbage asked her to expand the article, “as she understood the machine so well”. The final article is over three times the length of the original and contains several early ‘computer programs,’ as well as strikingly prescient observations on the potential uses of the machine, including the manipulation of symbols and creation of music.
Although Babbage and his assistants had sketched out programs for his engine before, Lovelace’s are the most elaborate and complete, and the first to be published; so she is often referred to as “the first computer programmer”.
Babbage himself “spoke highly of her mathematical powers, and of her peculiar capability – higher he said than of any one he knew, to prepare the descriptions connected with his calculating machine.”
9. Maria Mitchell – The First Female Professional American Astronomer!
(1818 – 1889)
Maria Mitchell was an astronomer, librarian, naturalist, and above all an educator. She discovered a comet through a telescope, for which she was awarded a gold medal by the King of Denmark. She was then thrust into the international spotlight and became America’s first professional female astronomer.
Her father was a great influence on her life; Maria developed her love of astronomy from his instruction on surveying and navigation. At age 12, Maria helped her father calculate the position of their home by observing a solar eclipse. By 14, sailors trusted her to do vital navigational computations for their long whaling journeys. Maria pursued her love of learning as a young woman, becoming the Nantucket Atheneum’s first librarian.
She and her father continued to acquire astronomical equipment and conduct observations.
On October 1st, 1847, Maria was sweeping the sky from the roof of the Pacific National Bank on Main Street, where her father was the Cashier. She spotted a small blurry object that did not appear on her charts. She had discovered a comet!
After achieving her fame, Maria was widely sought after and went on to achieve many great things. She resigned her post at the Atheneum in 1856 to travel throughout the US and Europe. In 1865, she became Professor of Astronomy at the newly-founded Vassar College.
Maria was an inspiration to her students. It was Vassar College that Maria felt was truly her home. She believed in learning by doing, and in the capacity of women to achieve what their male counterparts could. “Miss Mitchell” was beloved by her students whom she taught until her retirement in 1888.
10. Dr Stacey Habergham-Mawson – the manager of the National School’s Observatory!
Stacey is the manager of the National School’s Observatory and science outreach officer at the Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University.
Her work is specifically concentrated on the distribution of core-collapse supernovae in disturbed or merging galaxies.
She is very interested in the communication of physics, specifically astronomy, to the wider public. Stacey believes it is extremely important to share the work that goes on at university level with both the tax-payers who fund the majority of this work, and with a younger generation who may be inspired by the content.
Most of her work to date has been related to looking at the local environments of CCSNe in galaxies which are undergoing collisions or interactions with other galaxies, compared to those in “normal” systems.
With today (1st March 2018) being World Book Day, we thought that we would highlight some inspirational reads, written by STEM geniuses!
1. Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery – By Scott Kelly
A stunning, personal memoir from the NASA astronaut and modern-day hero who spent a record-breaking year aboard the International Space Station – a book that will inspire generations to come.
Scott gives a personal account of his year in space, from his training, to adjusting back to life on Earth!
A deeply absorbing and vivid look at a year in space, showing the importance of long duration space missions – that will help us explore further into the cosmos!
A truly inspirational book by an incredible, delightful and witty astronaut!
2. Ask an Astronaut: My Guide to Life in Space – By Tim Peake
Ask an Astronaut is Tim’s personal guide to life in space, based on his historic Principia mission, and the thousands of questions he has been asked since his return to Earth.
In-depth and motivating – Tim shares his thoughts on every aspect of his mission.
From training to launch, from his historic spacewalk to re-entry, Tim’s book aims to inspire young people to reach for the stars!
Tim is pleased to announce that, as with his previous book (Hello, is this planet Earth?: My View from the International Space Station), royalties received from the book will be donated to The Prince’s Trust.
Tim is a great advocate for space and helping young people to reach their full potential!
3. A Galaxy of Her Own: Amazing Stories of Women in Space – By Libby Jackson
From small steps to giant leaps, A Galaxy of Her Own tells fifty stories of inspirational women who have been fundamental to the story of humans in space, from scientists to astronauts to some surprising roles in between.
Packed full of both amazing female role models and mind-blowing secrets of space travel, A Galaxy of Her Own is guaranteed to make any reader reach for the stars!
Written by Libby Jackson, a leading UK expert in human space flight – this is a book to delight and inspire people of all ages.
Libby is an inspirational speaker and author – a truly lovely person to know!
4. Ad Astra: An Illustrated Guide to Leaving the Planet – By Dallas Campbell
Whether you’ve got itchy feet and need a bit of a break, or you’re looking for a complete change of scene – this book has all the information you’ll need to leave, with FREE expert advice from the men and woman who can actually make it happen!
It covers the wonders that we can all feel about science, and more specifically space exploration, even if you’re not a professional scientist.
It’s fascinating, witty and imaginative!
If you’ve ever looked up into the skies or dreamed about leaving the planet – this book is definitely for you!
Dallas has a fantastic presenting style and his passion for STEM makes this book a compelling must-read!
We had a fantastic time on the 18.01.18 with 1st Abergele Cubs, running our Mars Mission egg drop!
We held a competition to test which teams expensive technical equipment (an egg)would survive the long drop from the probe to the surface of Mars!
Everyone enjoyed the session and came up with amazing innovative ideas!
We challenged the Cubs to design and make a protective lander for the equipment so that it lands safely on Mars.
They worked in teams to design and build a Mars lander from a range of materials.
The landers were then put to the test to see which survive the impact.
They had to minimize the force of the impact in order to give their eggs the best chance of survival!
They learnt about acceleration, velocity, gravity and much more!
The winning team was………..
Team Minions – Zac, Osian & Seren!
The winners were absolutely thrilled with their prizes!