On the radio!

I was on the radio this weekend.

The lovely Matilda Hay from Soho Radio invited me onto her Science Mixtape show to talk about green engineering, music and even to perform an experiment live in the studio. I was quizzed on my areas of interest and research work, covering everything from natural ventilation to the sustainable cities project in China to global resource consumption.

I was also put in charge of the show's playlist, and selected tracks by a number of my favourite artists from Everything Everything to Radiohead to Grimes. It's worth mentioning that the video to the Grimes track - REALiTi - was filmed whilst she was on tour in south-east Asia, which also manages to capture the scale of some of the cities. Shamelessly, I plugged my own band - Death and the Penguin. You can watch the video to our latest single, Space 1998, here.

Turning the studio into a makeshift lab, I also conducted a thermal plume experiment live on air (there is a short video of it here). I filled a plastic box full of salt water and blu-tacked an unsuspecting Lego man - we called him Nigel - to the bottom. Nigel was connected to a tube which siphoned fresh water, dyed with red food colouring, from a bucket. The fresh water is less dense than the saline and therefore rises, forming a red plume above Nigel. This is a reasonably accurate model of the thermal plumes that we produce due to our body heat, which carry warm air upwards towards the ceiling. This is one of the mechanisms that causes air in rooms to be warmer towards the ceiling and cooler towards the floor.

[For the fluid dynamicists amongst you, I made sure to keep the flow rate at low as possible, to avoid 'forcing' the resulting plume too much at the source, and therefore to ensure that the flow was buoyancy dominated.]

Thanks to Matilda for having me - have a listen and feel free to send comments my way!


  • 07:00: Sick Building Syndrome, biophilia and the benefits of natural ventilation
  • 17:55: Thermal plume experiment
  • 29:29: Eco-footprinting and global resource consumption
  • 40:30: Chinese megacities project
  • 50:55: Science news - Chinese coal power