8 February 2018

A group of lower sixth chemists attended the A level Science Live day at Birmingham University. Featuring five lectures from speakers covering different areas of chemistry ranging from atmospheric chemistry to the study of mercury, the event showcased the work of successful scientists in their fields, expanded on ideas covered in the A level course, and gave handy advice for preparing for exams in the Upper Sixth. Highlights included Dr Peter Wothers’ talk exposing the true nature of the atomic orbital, expertly explained by the 2012 host of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures; Professor Lucy Carpenter’s lecture on ozone and pollution; and Mr Fisher’s successful long-distance reversing of the minibus after our first attempt to get into the campus was thwarted by automatic barriers. I enjoyed hearing, amongst other things, that how a stem cell differentiates depends on the surface it sits on and why tropospheric ozone is a problem; particularly fun was the in-depth introduction to orbitals as quantum wavefunctions, which we must promptly forget in order to appease the A level mark scheme. Overall the day provided an interesting insight into chemistry at and beyond A level and a chance to hear engaging speakers on their areas of expertise.

Written by Alasdair Czaplewski

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