Being green

The international drinks market has a direct effect on recycling in Scotland. According to Roger Levett, Recycling Officer for Scottish Enterprise, we import large amounts ofwine in green bottles. and export even larger volumes of whisky in clear bottles leaving a clear glass deficit in Scottish glass recycling.

While this might provide a good excuse for indigenous Scotch drinkers, Levett has a serious point to make: market forces play an important part in the way we recycle our waste. For example. because demand for recycled newsprint is low, a long-planned newsprint recycling plant at Gartcosh has still to be built.

‘There is a huge opportunity for Scotland to profit from recycling. provided the government sets up the market framework properly,’ says Levett. lf legislation set a minimum level of recycled newsprint for newspapers. demand would increase, the plant would receive all-important investment and some 500 jobs would be created in the employment blackspot near Ravenscraig.

Other projects. however. are fulfilling the public‘s demand for green enterprises. While there is a vacuum for recycling in Glasgow at present. Greenlight Recycling has recently started up in Dumbarton. and in Edinburgh, the Lothian and Edinburgh Environmental Partnership promotes a whole plethora of green projects. One of LEEPs more successful enterprises is for office paper recycling. Any

é small office can benefit the

environment, according to the project co-ordinator Maria Nickerson. The minimum complement two bin liners full of paper will reduce energy consumption by the equivalent of six gallons of oil. (Thom Dibdin) ‘Recycling, Yes: But What Can We Do? ‘, an afternoon seminar for the general public, takes place on Thurs 16 April from 2—4. 30pm in the Carlton Highland Hotel.


The Science Festival Box Oiiice Ticket Centre Waverley Bridge Edinburgh 031 557 4296

The Box Office is open until 26 April Mon - Sat 10arn~6pm Sun 2pm-6pm

Tickets vnll also be SOId at the venue 30 minutes before the event starts.


; signals

Space, the saying goes, is big. Very big. But the universe is bigger, and is the theme oi this year's Science Festival as well as the subject oi a new exhibition at the Royal Observatory on Blackiord Hill.

The biggest known thing in the universe is a galaxy called Malin 1, named after its discoverer, Dr David Malin oi the Anglo-Australian Observatory. ‘It is the least interesting looking galaxy you could imagine,’ admits DrMalin, ‘a tiny little cosmic tart at a thing.’ It is so taint because it is still mainly made up at hydrogen and,

uniquely, stars are only just starting to

term in it.

Aside irom his big discovery, Dr Hello is renowned amongst astronomers tor devising photographic ways of revealing the colours oi astronomical objects. Although they are strongly coloured, this colour is invisible to the eye, even through the largest telescope. ‘Because we can make colour pictures oi the astronomical objects, we can actually derive useiul scientiiic lntormation irom them,’ says Dr Malin. “They are also quite eye-catching. In the case oi galaxies, around the nucleus is a distinct yellow colour and the spiral arms are blueish with pink blobs in them.’

Besides Dr Malin’s talk, Things to Do and See in The Dark, which he describes as a ‘splashy slide show at photographs taken with telescopes in Australia’, there will be enough space-related events during the lestival to turn the most inoitensive physics illiterate into a iully iledged Space Bore. (Thom Dibdin)

‘Things to Do and See in The Dark', 4.30pm, Sat 11 April in the Carlton Highland Hotel.

‘The Universe’ exhibition opens at the Royal Observatory, Blackiord Hill on Mon 13 April, 10am-4pm (weekdays); noon-5pm (weekends). The Observatory will be holding behind the scenes open days, 17—20 April, when members at the public can peruse the world’s only astronomical photo library and see the latest technology lrom the Hawaii tesecope used in last summer’s solar eclipse.

Daniel Postgaie


Smoke |

described as a psycho-active drug, but it is not responsible tor the cancers and the heart disease associated with tobacco smoking. While it has this strong hold over users, it does not damage their abilities to periorm

everyday tasks. its eiiects are very mild and can even be described as positive, as it helps concentration and is a mild

I memory enhancer.‘

Nicotine: it’s a killer! Well not quite, and it might even be beneiicial, according to Dr Susan Wonnacott, a biochemist irom Bath University who specialises in the drug. it’s the tags that cause all the cancers and bad

' breath: the nicotine just stops you

giving up. It mimics one at the brain’s own natural signalling molecules called acetylcholine, which stimulates the learning and memory mechanisms oi the brain as well as what is known as the reward path.

‘The important distinction is that nicotine is the drug that causes the dependence on tobacco smoking,’ says Dr Wonnacott. ‘Nicotine is as addictive 9 as heroin and cocaine, and can be i

When Sir Walter Raleigh brought

1 back tobacco irom the New World, little

did he ioresee its legacy oi chronic

' disease and death. Dr Wonnacott . remains protesslonally alooi irom

arguments tor or against tobacco smoking, saying she presents the facts

so people can make up their own

minds. However, she does see Sir Walter's import as poetic justice,

' considering the decimation oi the

Central and North American indians by

the European occupation oi their

continent. (Ann Summers) Dr Susan Wonnacott describes ‘The

; Revenge oi the lndlans’ at 7.30pm on

Tue 21 April in the Carlton Highland Hotel.


I Women on the Edge: Mountbatten Building. Sun 12 April. 7pm. Four female scientists- Dr Jocelyn Bell-Burnell of the Open University's Department of Physics. British Gas geologist Yvonne Burton. Miranda Stevenson of Edinburgh Zoo and Dundee University-based Prof Birgit Lane of the Cancer Research Campaign take part in a Question Time-style panel. chaired by Lesley Riddoch. As well as discussingtheir own work. the scientists will respond to questions from the floor on the role of women in science.

I Science and Religion: Royal College of Physicians. Wed 15 April. 7pm. ln many respects. the doctrines of religion and the facts of science appear to be natural adversaries. in what promises to be a lively event, Dr John Habgood, Archbishop of York. and Dr Richard Dawkins. author of The Selfish Gene. debate the issues at stake with the audience.

| ' It


r Protessor Heinz Wolil

I The Edinburgh Medal: Royal College of Physicians, Wed 22 April, 7.30pm. This year‘s award. given by the City of Edinburgh District Council, goes to Heinz Wolff, Professor of Bioengineering at Brunel University and television personality. Foliowingthe presentation ofthe medal. Prof Wolff will deliver an adrcss on ‘Science and Society‘.

I Politics in Science and Technology: Carlton Highland Hotel, Fri 17 Apr. Hot on the heels of the General Election comes a meeting at which the main political parties will outline their funding plans. Should be interesting. considering that the UK spends a

' smaller percentage ofits wealth on science than its competitors.

The Lisi'iof'zs April 196515