Science Week shows reveal digestive system journey

It Takes Guts offers a step-by-step explanation of what happens to the food we eat

The  Alimentary Adventure inflatable exhibit  explaining the digestive system in Cork City Hall. Photograph:  Michael MacSweeney/Provision

The Alimentary Adventure inflatable exhibit explaining the digestive system in Cork City Hall. Photograph: Michael MacSweeney/Provision

 

The messy business of how our digestive system works is revealed in a Science Week show by the London Science Museum that offers visitors a step-by-step explanation of what happens to the food we eat.

“It is about food and nutrition and digestion,” explains presenter Ronan Bullock.

“We look at the entire journey of food through the human digestive system, ultimately ending up with poo.”

The show, It Takes Guts, has been coming to Science Week and Waterford Institute of Technology for 10 years and remains as popular as ever, Mr Bullock said.

The show is a multisensory experience that combines table-top mixing of ingredients with video taken from inside the stomach and the small and large intestines.

Students get to see where food goes and at some stages they also smell the processes taking place.

“We do get quite in depth, but due to the timing of the show it is a whirlwind journey,” Mr Bullock said.

Actual food enters the “mouth” - in this case a bowl - where teeth mash the meal and start digestion with saliva before it is passed on to the “stomach”.

The journey also explains the role of the pancreas and the liver.

“It is a full-on experience for everyone,” said Mr Bullock.

The show is free but must be booked, with a few places remaining for the 1pm performance on Friday.

People can also walk through the digestive system as part of a separate event at Cork City Hall.

The Cork Science Festival will have a giant blow-up model that explains the system from the inside, organised by the APC Microbiome Institute at University College Cork, at the venue.

“It is an inflatable tunnel and you walk through,” said Dr Catherine Buckley of the institute, who also co-designed the model.

The tunnel shows what a healthy system looks like, but also shows the effect of diseases and problems that can arise.

The model was funded by Science Foundation Ireland and will be open from 11-6pm on Saturday and Sunday. Access is free of charge.

Daily puzzle

This one is a “mental” exercise - don’t use paper and scissors - just imagine in your mind:

Take a sheet of paper - any size that you happen to have .

Now fold this sheet of paper in half and now fold it in half again, at right angles to the first fold.

Now you have four thicknesses of paper.

Now imagine you use scissors and cut through all four thicknesses, right down the middle of the paper, parallel to the first fold you made.

How many pieces of paper do you have now?

Don’t get paper and scissors to solve this one - try to picture this in your mind!

ANSWER

You will have three pieces of paper after the cut. It won’t matter which direction you make the cut with the scissors - you will end up with three pieces of paper.

Don’t believe it? Now go get the paper and scissors and actually do this - you’ll see!