24 Hour Inspire

When I’ve told my family that I’m going to stay awake and volunteer for 24 hours for an event, they told me that I’m crazy. And you know what? Maybe I was. After all the energy drinks and sweets, my body still gave up at hour 23 and I had to go home and rest, missing the grand finale. But those 23 hours were totally worth it.

24 Hour Inspire is an easy event to volunteer at. It’s basically contained to one building (usually Hicks) and to specifically one lecture theatre. It’s a series of talks on relatively any subject and it merely involves a bit of crowd management and managing some stalls. The fact that it’s a fairly straightforward volunteering task and that there were enough volunteers at all times allowed me to stay in for a few of the lectures. And I must say, I was truly inspired.

First of all, the event is a charity fundraiser with all money going towards helping people who suffer from cancer. It was inspired by Dr Tim Richardson who organised the very first 24 Hour Inspire but passed away of cancer before the event actually took place. The event was still held in his memory and its success transformed into a legacy.

I unfortunately didn’t ever have the chance to ever meet Tim, but from what I’ve heard from others he was a truly inspiring individual. He valued nurturing knowledge in others and I think he valued learning from others. I guess this is the ground upon which 24 Hour Inspire was built, since the event is made up of basically 24 hours of back to back lectures from academics across departments who want to share their knowledge. 24 Hour Inspire is a true representation of the University’s motto: Disce. Doce. Learn and Teach.

This year the event was held from 5pm on Thursday 19th to 5pm on Friday 20th of April. This date has passed so if you weren’t there, you need to wait an entire year to be inspired for another continuous 24 hours of lectures. But, you might wonder, what types of things can be so inspiring?

Well, to begin with donating to support people who are suffering is inspiring in itself. However, 24 Hour Inspire will offer you, in exchange of your donation, knowledge. What type of knowledge you ask? Let me give you some examples of the lectures that stuck with me.

Lesson 1) Nutrition is extremely important for brain development. It is intuitive to assume that sub nutrition hinders brain development. What is counterintuitive but proven by research is that sub nutrition followed by normal nutrition caused subjects to live longer. Why? We’re genetically engineered to a) survive, b) reproduce. When the body receives enough resources it focuses on both actions. When the body is underfed, the brain eliminates reproduction and focuses on survival. Hence puberty is delayed. Of course, normal nutrition brings your brain back on track (so at some point puberty will still be hit, and your body will prepare for reproduction), but that simple delay in puberty apparently prolongs the life span of the subjects. Madly interesting, isn’t it? (Ok, maybe it’s just me).

Lesson 2) Have you ever wondered how the mint cream is inserted in the After Eight chocolates? Apparently, mint creams contain water, sucrose, peppermint flavouring and an enzyme called invertase. Invertase causes the liquid solution to become a stiff paste which can be easily dipped in chocolate. Mind blowing right? (ok, maybe it’s not mind blowing, but you got to admit it’s fascinating). Another two fun facts from this lecture: pineapples have an enzyme that breaks down protein, so basically you don’t just eat pineapple, pineapple eats you back; and people taste things differently, we are divided into medium tasters, non tasters and supertasters. Different genes cause distinct variations of numbers of taste buds, so some people can genuinely taste bitter things more intensely than others.

Lesson 3) Why did people vote for Donald Trump? In this lecture we learned that previous US presidents were not impervious to racism. However, most of their racism was covert, insinuated. This covert subliminal racism is a phenomenon called dog whistling – the metaphor refers to a sound you make that is imperceptible to some but captured by others. Dog whistling would not change someone’s political views, but rather enhance it (something on the lines if you were already a racist, your views would be reinforced by your interpretation). Interestingly, when called out on it, when discussed publicly and critically, dog whistling would be less or non effective, because self censorship and awareness would intervene. Now Donald Trump brings US politics from dog whistling to overt racism. And how he gets away with it has another term – the Figleaf Theory. This is another metaphor to represent something that shouldn’t be displayed in public and is barely and superficially covered by another element (like with a figleaf). Figleaf racism is comments such as: “I’m not a racist, but…”, “[a particular nationality] are all rapists, but some of them are good  citizens” and so on. Donald Trump generalises over a population, yet his racism is supported by some because of the implication and insinuation that the generalisation does not take place “but some…”, “they’re not all like this, but…”. (A very insightful comment that asks for reflection and bias check).

And I would have plenty more examples, but I should stop here before I pour down an essay. I really hope you will join the 24 Hour Inspire event next year, either as a volunteer or as a member of the audience. I know for sure I will be there. And I am grateful that I could take part in this year’s event.

Lesson 1 was a lecture delivered by Professor Alistair Warren, Biomedical Science.

Lesson 2 was a lecture delivered by Dr Joanna Buckley, Chemistry.

Lesson 3 was a lecture delivered by Professor Jennifer Saul, Philosphy.

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