UCL News


Students embark on Big Brother-style carbon experiment

7 June 2006

Four physics students will spend the next few days trying to live as carbon neutrally as possible, as part of the Cheltenham Science festival.

The students, from UCL and the University of Reading, will be taking part in Camp Energy - Survival of the Physicists, which is designed to show how physics can help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released in everyday activities. …

In Big Brother style, the students will camp together and set daily tasks, all under the watchful eye of the Institute of Physics, which has organised the challenge. Day one will see the students building and using a solar cooker; day two making bio-diesel from chip fat; day three making a crystal radio and being entertained by a bicycle-powered sound system and day four building a hot tub using an old bath, radiator and coppiced charcoal.

"We are hoping that unlike Big Brother, our camp won't have any walk-outs or evictions," said Anthea Cain [UCL Physics & Astronomy], one of the students taking part in the camping challenge.

"However, like the contestants in the house we will be living in a closed environment and facing daily challenges by our own Big Brother, the Institute of Physics."

Andrea Taroni [UCL Chemistry], a PhD student, is looking forward to the challenge. "I will be looking to see what we can achieve by using bio-diesel. I have never tried to make any fuel before and I am interested to see the possibilities," she said.

The students are aiming to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced by four people over the course of the experiment. This is estimated to be around 770kg, enough to fill 1.8 million balloons. …

Louise Cooper, 'Education Guardian'