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Forever blowing bubbles

Press release issued: 8 July 2004

For the second year running, Bristol University will be showcasing some of its most exciting research at the Royal Society's prestigious Summer Science Exhibition.

For the second year running, Bristol University will be showcasing some of its most exciting research at the Royal Society’s prestigious Summer Science Exhibition, which runs from 6 to 8 July 2004.

This year’s exhibition features a total of 25 exhibits competitively selected from universities and companies throughout the UK. It is a rare distinction to be invited to exhibit two years in a row.

Bristol’s exhibit, entitled 'Forever Blowing Bubbles',  illustrates the impact of persistently active volcanoes on our environment. These volcanoes do not erupt explosively, but continuously release gases into the atmosphere, which can lead to climate change and acid rain.

Visitors to the stand will gain an understanding of how bubbles rising from deep within the volcano transport heat and gas and prevent the volcano from solidifying. An array of tall tubes showing different aspects of gas bubble dynamics is used to demonstrate how different liquid properties control the rise of the bubbles.

A thermal imaging camera will be used to show how scientists can measure the temperature of the lava at the volcano’s surface from a safe distance. Visitors will be able to use the camera to observe the thermal signatures of people and common objects, and visualise heating and cooling processes involving hot and cold drinks.

A live video feed from the Stromboli Volcano Observatory, showing real-time video monitoring of volcanic gas release, will also be on view.

Dr Jeremy Phillips, from the Earth Sciences Department is leading the exhibit for Bristol University, which is a joint collaboration with the Open University.  Dr Phillips said: "We are delighted to represent Bristol at the Royal Society for the second year running.  Volcanic eruptions are some of the most spectacular phenomena in the natural world that, in the short term, can havedevastating consequences for the lives of thousands of people. However, the impact of persistent volcanic gas release to the atmosphere could have global consequences. To better determine how, and when, volcanoes develop explosive or persistent activity , we need to improve our understanding of the internal workings of volcanoes. Visitors to our stand will be able to get a real understanding of the important contribution these volcanoes make to the atmosphere."

Stephen Cox, Executive Secretary of the Royal Society, said “Bristol University’s exhibit is an example of the excellent standard of research we have on display this year. The exhibition is a great chance for members of the public to learn more about the fascinating science which is currently going on in the UK. Being able to talk face-to-face with the researchers lets people experience the excitement and enthusiasm that comes with working at the forefront of scientific research.”

The exhibition is held annually at the London headquarters of the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science. Each exhibit presents cutting-edge science, engineering or technology through interactive displays staffed by the researchers themselves, who can give firsthand insight into the science on show. More than 3,500 people are expected through the doors over the three days of the exhibition.
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