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Plenty in the tank

Oil & Gas will continue to offer great careers on and off-shore


Keeping the




A technological race and a knee-jerk topic?

Powering the Future

Practical steps to secure the talent required for the energy sector to prosper


Taking a closer look at the energy sector The energy industry is at the heart of public debate today as the world grapples with the many complex issues related to how we keep our engines turning and our lights on. How do we secure a supply of clean, affordable energy? How do we cope with the implications of climate change and all that global warming brings? How is the industry going to be able to attract sufficient numbers of scientists and engineers to satisfy the recruitment needs of the industry in the next 10 years, to cope with growing demand for energy? These are big, big issues and here in Scotland they are at the centre of industrial, academic and government debate. Somehow we need to achieve that fine balance of maintaining current power generation and investing in new technologies to secure our energy for generations to come.

HOW DO WE The expertise of our businesses – people like the Wood Group, Balmoral and Weir Group – is marketable worldwide. Just take shale fracking: identified most readily with the US domestic gas market, Weir Pumps is actually a major supplier to the industry.

In this edition of Mercury we take a look at the energy sector from a number of perspectives.

Scotland has a chance to grasp world leadership in the renewables sector, and especially in offshore wind and marine energy. The industry is under intense scrutiny as technologies are tested, against the background of demands to achieve tough “green” energy targets over the coming period.

Glasgow Science Centre is engaging with the energy industry and other agencies to develop our understanding of these complex issues and to highlight the opportunities for the next generation of engineers and scientists.

We’ve spoken to some of the leading players, including Scottish Renewables, Scottish Enterprise, Weir Group and UK Oil & Gas. In this edition we want to give you an idea of the scale of the industry, the science it uses and its future potential.

The oil and gas sector is experiencing renewed investment, as we discover new and better ways of extracting hydrocarbons.

Glasgow Science Centre plans to launch a ground-breaking permanent exhibition titled “Powering the Future” in 2015. We’re talking to major industry partners about a great facility that will bring home the importance of energy to our daily lives in a way that’s never been done before.

Our electricity generators are investing in their people as much as in their technologies. A new generation of engineers and others is required across the industry.

Dr Stephen Breslin Chief Executive Glasgow Science Centre



Dr Stephen Breslin

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Joss Blamire


Scotland is among the most energy-rich countries in Europe and now power generation is making a massive change as it embraces renewables. Mercury hears from Joss Blamire of Scottish Renewables.


For years our power stations were supplied by coal mined from across the Central Belt. And of course since the 1960s Scotland has been home to significant hydro-electric schemes such as that at Pitlochry. Today the most significant electricity sources are Scotland’s nuclear power stations at Hunterston and Torness, both of which will near the end of their working lives within 10 years. The range of generation has been so strong that we have long exported electricity to England via the interconnector system. But conventional power is no longer in abundance. Continuing concern about the impact of climate change means that future investment in coal production is very unlikely, a situation underlined by the recent collapse of Scottish Coal. The disadvantages of carbon fuels coincide with continued reluctance – both politically and financially – to invest in next-generation nuclear power generation in Scotland. While the industry in England appears ready to be re-started, in terms of new investment, there is no such appetite north of the Border. The main result of all this is that energy-abundant Scotland is at a crossroads in terms of power generation. Everywhere we have resources and expertise. However generation costs, environmental concerns and political and business sentiment have combined to demand clear strategic decisions about how we “keep the lights on” in future.

Conventional power, and nuclear, will continue to supply the UK market from Scotland for the foreseeable future. But new technology, and new politics, are having a significant impact. Today, Scotland is racing towards ambitious targets to generate all the electricity it needs by renewable means by 2020. Scottish Renewables, the umbrella body for the industry representing an impressive 340 companies, says that it has reached 40 per cent ahead of schedule, and remains confident of reaching 100 per cent within the deadline. But with planning concerns about the scores of onshore wind farms dotting our landscape, and doubts in some quarters about their ability to deliver energy at the real scale required, how are we to meet such targets? cont >

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because of our legacy in oil and gas, which remains an important employer, we have a lot of skills which are often transferable to renewables


The answer comes from two corners. Firstly, that renewables will only deliver if we embrace several types of generation at the same time, for example hydro, offshore and onshore wind, wave technologies, and so on. Secondly, we have to get more used to a larger number of smaller-scale projects, meaning that our power is more likely to come from a much more local source. “Offshore wind is the next challenge. We have had strong signal of intent from the UK Government as well as the Scottish Government. Offshore certainly has more room to develop” explains Scottish Renewables’ Senior Policy Manager Joss Blamire. Also because of our legacy in oil and gas, which remains an important employer, we have a lot of skills which are often transferable to renewables.” Scotland’s annual electricity requirement – the total needed to light, heat and power our homes, offices and factories is 39 GW. Right now, renewables supplies 15GW. The Scottish Government believes the 100 per cent level can be reached, with the caveat that this will be via “wider, balanced electricity mix (including thermal generation supported by Carbon Capture techniques)”. The challenge is there. Can the industry live up to it? One fact that is forgotten amidst the energy debate is the opportunities it offers in terms of jobs and careers. Both oil and gas and the renewables promise lifetime careers to young Scotland, and not only in engineering. These jobs are spread across much of the country, working in academic research, for Scottish supply companies, and for inward investment companies from Europe, Scandinavia and Japan.

World-leading research into marine energy is underway at an exclusive research centre in Orkney. Scotland is also bidding for a leading research project into the concept of carbon capture – by which spent carbon from energy is pumped into deep storage rather than emitted into the atmosphere – at Peterhead. While there is a sense that Scotland lost out on the technical leading edge in onshore wind – where the production of turbines is dominated by near-neighbours Denmark – there is a real chance that we shall be home to ground-breaking offshore wind and wave technologies. The prize, in terms of skills, jobs, investment and access to export markets, could be massive. “We have such great resources. And we have always been exporters, with mining, then oil and gas,” comments Joss Blamire. “The benefits of the renewables sector to the Scottish economy as a whole is increasingly significant. There are 11,000 jobs in the sector, with current and planned investment of more than £1.5bn in Scotland. It is hugely positive.” “There is a massive supply chain, including managers, lawyers and ecologists as well as engineers and so on.” Those 340 member companies include operators, research operations, supply chain operators, and cover onshore and offshore renewables, hydro-electric power, as well as biomass, and heat generated from waste and recycling power.


The industry is lobbying to improve access to the grid network, a key element that in the long term would increase capacity and reduce distribution costs. Blamire points too to the rejuvenation of several ports and harbours as a result of the new investment programme in various renewables projects. All round Scotland there is renewed activity in fabrication, shipping and distribution.


There are 11,000 jobs in the sector, with current and planned investment of more than £1.5bn in Scotland. It is hugely positive.


The membership varies from existing players such as Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) and Scottish Power, both of whom run significant renewables businesses. They have been joined by new players such as Aquamarine Power and international companies like Spanish wind company Gamesa.

“The renewables sector is significant and growing. To reach our targets we need faster planning decisions and greater investment, but renewable energy is well established, and it isn’t going away. Scotland has the opportunity to be a leading world player in its use and exploitation of technologies, as demand grows for green energy sources.” | END |

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years after the first North Sea exploration licenses were granted, the oil and gas industry is seeking the latest recruits to help make the most of new and old fields over the coming three or four decades.



It is commonly held that the North Sea industry is mature, and therefore one that does not offer the career prospects of previous decades. According to the industry body Oil & Gas UK nothing could be further from the truth. Oil and gas will provide hundreds of thousands of jobs in future, and – contrary to popular perception – 90 per cent of them will be onshore. These jobs include a range of skills, such as geophysicists, geologists, human resources, public relations, lawyers, marketing people and engineers. The industry is being influenced by several factors. Firstly, as technology has advanced, we now have the capability of extracting more resources than originally anticipated, using enhanced oil recovery techniques. This means that even technically-challenging smaller fields will in future produce a great deal of oil and gas. Secondly, many of the people recruited during the high-production late 1970s and 1980s, are either working further afield, or approaching retirement age.


Those trends are supported by other factors, such as the continued relatively high price of oil, and growing demand especially from the new economies in Asia and Latin America. Scottish companies such as Wood Group and Balmoral now work in dozens of countries, exploiting the knowledge gained as part of the North Sea supply chain. And, although investment stuttered after Treasury changes to taxation in 2010, there are signs of significant recovery. During 2013, the industry announced £13 billion of investment. “There are still exciting opportunities, and significant investment,” comments Oonagh Werngren, Oil & Gas UK’s Operations Director.


The most significant activity remains in the Central North Sea and the more recently exploited fields to the west of Shetland. Longer-term, there may be exploitable fields near the Hebrides and also the Forth Approaches Basin. “Our ability to understand and visualise the reservoir and stocks are phenomenal. This industry is very innovative. It has been recruiting at all levels – for example, there is a shortage of skilled personnel in the mid-career stage of their profession. We need to continually raise awareness of the opportunities,” adds Oonagh. cont >

For more information Oonagh Werngren


The industry is the biggest single contributor to the exchequer and supports

450,000 jobs For the industry a lot depends on prevailing oil prices and a stable tax regime. Offshore infrastructure – pipelines and platforms – will need to be upgraded. A new study led by leading entrepreneur Sir Ian Wood focused on how the industry can work better with the Treasury and the Department of Energy and Climate Change, predicting a vastly-improved level of exploration activity the UK continental shelf if the two sides improve that relationship. What does this all mean for young people contemplating a career in this most international of industries? “The potential is fantastic. There are real and lasting careers in oil and gas, and many of them offer the chance to work all over the world as well as the UK” says Dr Alix Thom, Skills and Employment Issues Manager at Oil & Gas UK. “The industry is at the leading edge of technology. Some of our companies are working with NASA, in a range of different areas of activity. Reservoirs discovered 30 years ago are only now being developed because the technology has made it possible.” She underlines the point that while many supply chain jobs will be in science and engineering, other disciplines such as HR, marketing and management are also in demand. “The career opportunities are across the board. Over the next five years we have four projects which will need 4,000 people. Offshore alone there will be 7,000 a year. And after all the exploration, there will be the de-commissioning of platforms and pipelines too in the 2030s and 2040s and even later. “I think teachers and parents sometimes think we are a ‘sunset industry’ but there is a lot of new exploration to be done and we need the people to deliver that. Member companies are recruiting apprentices and graduates. We have to continue to raise awareness. The industry is the biggest single contributor to the exchequer and supports 450,000 jobs.”

Dr Alix Thom


Demand for the same skills is high in other markets, including Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Angola, Russia and other energy producing regions.


The potential is fantastic. There are real and lasting careers in oil and gas, and many of them offer the chance to work all over the world as well as in Scotland

Sir Ian Wood’s report estimates this move could boost the UK economy by an additional £200 billion over the next 20 years. It wants the new regulator to approve new investments only if companies prove they are exploiting resources to their full. This is based on the conclusion that not enough has been done to encourage and enforce collaboration and broader strategic thinking between companies, and between the industry and government. So what can we expect to see from the oil and gas industry during the next 25-35 years? It is hoped that all fields, not just small ones, will yield a greater percentage of hydrocarbons, because of more efficient extraction. A smaller proportion of the workforce will be based offshore, because new operational systems means fewer people actually have to be “on the rigs”.


Today’s graduates could expect to work most of their lives in the industry, and to find there both domestic and international demand for their skills. If exploited, new fields to the north and west of Scotland could extend the life of the industry. The energy sector is a high-wage, high-skill industry. The question is whether it can be exploited fully during the years to come. Either way, it will continue to be an important source of high-quality jobs. | END |

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Ten years ago most people had never heard of “fracking”, better known to the oil and gas industry as an “unconventional” means of extraction. Today fracking – or “hydraulic fracturing” – has moved centre-stage in a long-running planning and environmental debate across the UK. To its supporters it promises potential massive energy supplies and lower bills. Yet its critics complain that it threatens clean water supplies and public health. Whatever it is, fracking is never far from controversy. Exploratory work by an operator provoked protests in leafy Surrey, and there remain tensions about fracking proposals across England and particularly in the north-west.

Scotland has not yet seen a formal application for fracking, although UK Government figures indicate that substantial shale gas reserves may lie across a broad swathe of the central belt, from Dundee to the Lothians across to Oban and down to Stranraer. Officially, the Scottish Government says it would treat any application to explore in the normal way used for similar applications, applying existing planning and environmental regulations. But protestors are already flexing in readiness for the battle ahead. Hydraulic fracturing has been used as a means of maximizing the yield from gas reserves for more than a century. Much of the existing techniques were developed in the United States during the 1940s and 1950s. Gavin Nicol

12 Put simply, a deep well is bored vertically, and then travels horizontally into the shale, and a mix of water and chemicals is pumped into the wellbore in order to fracture rock and release gas held within it. The gas is then forced back to the surface.


In the last decade fracking has taken off in a big way. In its search for ways of becoming less dependent on foreign energy sources, the US Government encouraged development in large regions of the country. Massive shale reserves in Canada and the US have attracted a boom in investment, cut foreign market dependency and slashed domestic gas prices.

Scottish engineering giant Weir Group plays a key role in the fracking industry. It is the number one supplier of pumping equipment worldwide. “Fracking is a simple technology, in the sense that liquids are forced down a well at very high pressure, forcing gas back to the surface for processing and delivery,” says operations’ director Gavin Nicol. “That is the nature of the methodology. However the prize to be attained – a cheap and secure supply of shale gas – is massive, and that is why there has been so much investment in recent years.


So what’s not to like? The main concerns about fracking are its potential damage to the water table, and the emission of a host of toxic chemicals. These issues were highlighted in the controversial documentary, Gasland, which alleged major health risks that are contested hotly by the industry.

We need a UK industry, operators and suppliers, who work to a high level. The opportunities in the UK are too great to be ignored.

“The industry has made great strides in improving safety, taking greater care of the environment and also in examining how to use different chemical blends. There is a technology race going on, and it is one that could change the whole model of business. “I hope that we do not respond here in the UK to fracking proposals in a knee-jerk way and consider the advantages and all the angles. The opportunities are too great to be ignored.” Weir Group, employing 15,000 worldwide from its Glasgow HQ, is well positioned to service future energy growth, having had a long track record in the oil and gas and mining industries. It is watching the re-opening of the UK nuclear energy sector – with investments planned in England – with great interest. Its in-house knowledge of pumping technology is augmented by close collaboration with Scottish universities. The Weir Advanced Research Centre was created at University of Strathclyde in 2011, and creates space for Weir engineers to work side by side with university engineering experts to create new products and technologies. Weir initially invested around £2m for the first three years, and declare that the venture has been a real success. “We have in many ways out-sourced some fundamental research to leading academics such as Professor Donald Mackenzie,” says Nicol. “It is fantastic to be working so closely with Scottish universities. Effectively we are girding ourselves for any eventuality, any opportunity in nuclear, coal, gas and offshore sectors.“ | END |

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Energy Store




















Generating capacity & key infrastructure



Wind energy isn’t all about the turbines that you either love or hate dotted across Scottish hills and moorland. A few wind farms are massive and are providing significant energy. US tycoon Donald Trump failed to stop an offshore wind research project within sight of his Aberdeenshire golf course. Scottish Enterprise energy and clean technologies director Maggie McGinlay says mooted offshore wind investments by an array of European and Asian players could provide energy for the NW European market.

HYDRO Arguably the cleanest way to generate power, hydro opened up the Highlands for investment from the 1950s to 1970s. Still important, hydro could be in line for a new round of spending as the industry re-builds and expands. Already SSE plans major spending at Lochaber and Scottish Power’s looking at a doubling of capacity at Cruachan, Argyll.








Graph Source: Scottish Renewables | Information: Energy Statistics Database (Scottish Government)

N NUCLEAR England has re-commenced nuclear power investment, but Scotland is not so keen. Our existing stations at Hunterston B in Ayrshire and Torness in East Lothian remain key sources of Scottish electricity and both have had their lives extended. Will we need new nuclear capacity, or can renewables make up the difference once these stations are decommissioned?


O Oil North Sea Oil is still a key player in the energy sector, employing tens of thousands and with another 30-40 years’ production anticipated. The industry predicts a careers bonanza for today’s science and engineering students.The big question for Scotland is whether large scale oil investment can be achieved west of Shetland and in other parts of Scotland’s Atlantic shores.





G gas Gas remains an important source of energy but the most exciting development in Scotland is the planned investment in a carbon-capture research pilot at Shell’s major gas plant at Peterhead. The UK Government recently confirmed a long-delayed announcement of design research investment for Shell and SSE, who want to capture carbon and store it deep within the Goldeneye gas field.





A combined heat and power plant operates at Grangemouth refinery, where Ineos plans to extend handling facilities for fracked gas imported from the USA and destined for European markets.

EMEC at Orkney is the only research centre of its kind in the world



Peterhead is the scene of a carbon capture research project that could transform the industry and reduce carbon emissions


Grangemouth The Ineos investment at Grangemouth is hugely significant in terms of fracked gas and also in terms of the future of the plant


NOTE Our map depicts generating sources of more than 10MW. This is to make the map details clearer. There are numerous wind and hydro schemes of smaller capacity around Scotland too. Significant research into marine based (“wave” or “tidal”) energy is underway at the European Marine Energy Centre EMEC on Orkney, which opened in 2003 and is the first facility of its kind in the world. The Robin Rigg offshore windfarm was built in 2009, but a second phase is being opposed by local campaigners.


C COAL The collapse of Scottish Coal recently means there are few open cast sites operating in Scotland, but Longannet power station remains another important source of energy, using a mix of open-cast and imported coal. The Cockenzie power station closed in 2013, and a smaller station remains at Stornoway.



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A major new exhibition devoted to energy – Powering the Future – is being planned by Glasgow Science Centre, with a provisional opening date in 2015.

POWERING Centre experts are planning a significant permanent exhibition which will examine and explain how power is generated, the fuels of the future, and the science behind a range of technologies which will help us all to “keep the lights on” in future. Scotland is a major energy provider, from its offshore oil and gas sector to hydro, nuclear and thermal power stations. They are being augmented – and possibly replaced – by renewable energy sources including onshore and offshore wind, and marine energy. “These are really the most exciting times for the energy sector. While the conventional industries such as oil and gas continue to innovate, and even to export their skills, we are also at the cusp of a revolution in renewables,” explains Dr Robin Hoyle, Director of Science at the Centre. “We are still at the planning stage, but we want to provide an educational exhibition that will appeal to visitors young and old, as well as playing a part in encouraging young people to consider careers in the energy sector.” Dr Hoyle and his team of experts are being advised by a special group drawn from academia, government and the industry itself. While the Science Centre sets about securing funds for the exhibition – estimated at more than £1.5m – the group are planning a very hands-on experience for all ages.


They will be inspired by the success of the top-floor BodyWorks exhibition at the Centre, which has proved to be very popular since its opening in spring 2013. “BodyWorks has something for every age. It contains serious learning and information as well as providing a great deal of fun and a worthwhile experience to children and adults alike,” comments Hoyle.

“We want to build on that very ambitious exhibition, which has had a real impact on visitors. ‘Powering the Future’ will follow suit: the emphasis will be on creating a really engaging experience.” The Science Centre team are taking on one of the key issues faced by humanity worldwide, as Hoyle adds: “The constant, steady availability of energy underpins our modern lives.



“However, one of the biggest challenges for all of us, locally and internationally, is how we can meet our increasing demand for energy, at an acceptable cost to the environment and the economy." “To deliver a low carbon, secure, affordable energy future requires a society that can take up the challenges and take a leading role in the ongoing debate about our energy future.” Powering the Future is still at the planning stage, but the Centre and its advisers expect to agree a clear plan during 2014, and more information will be made available in the near future. | END |

For more information Dr Robin Hoyle



SKILLS Glasgow Science Centre and the national skills body, Skills Development Scotland (SDS), are working together to raise awareness of career options for high school students. Last year, the two bodies started working together to promote the SDS all age web service “My World of Work”, promoting careers planning to teenagers and in particular encouraging them to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (“STEM”) subjects. Last October saw a successful two-day “Your Science Future” in energy event at the Centre, followed by a similar event covering the health sector in February. “This brings school pupils together with employers, as well as providing suitable resources for teachers. The whole programme ties into ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ which is a big plus,” explains Alison Eaglesham, Partner Development and Integration Executive at SDS. ”We’re working to develop an interactive space on Floor 2 of Glasgow Science Centre. While events to date have been aimed at the S1 to S3 age group, the new initiative will take a more general

Susan Meikleham

approach,” added Eaglesham, who works closely with a Science Centre team that includes Science Education Coordinator Susan Meikleham. “We are seeking to develop a space with interactive exhibits, encouraging school children to think about their future, managing their careers by focusing on the subjects to pick and the qualifications to aim for.” The collaboration fits with the remits of both organisations. Glasgow Science Centre has a strong education brief, and wants to encourage more young people into the ‘STEM’ subjects at school and in higher education. SDS is Scotland’s national skills body, providing support to individuals and businesses and helping both to develop and apply their skills. Created in 2008, it brings together services covering careers, skills, training and funding. The SDS web service My World at Work provides an online careers service. Glasgow Science Centre will unveil the next stage of its link up with SDS during 2014. | END |



GSC Engineer It - 7th-17th April 2014

Put on your hard hat and join us to explore the world of engineering during the Easter school holidays. Meet experts and take part in some great hands-on activities.

Astronomical Society of Glasgow Lectures - 17th April 2014 “Edge of Darkness” will look at dark nebulae with Dr Nick Hewitt of the British Astronomical Society.

Environmental Interactions of Marine Renewable Energy Technologies 2014 conference - 30th April-2nd May 2014 This meeting will serve as an international forum for researchers and professionals to come together to present the latest research results and ideas on the oceanographic, ecological and societal interactions of wave and tidal-stream energy devices.



Science Slam II, University of Glasgow - 9th May 2014 Eight of the University’s best PhD students will present their research in never before seen ways for the chance to win £500!

Let’s Talk About Sex: Developing and Supporting Your Female Stem Staff and Students - 14th May 2014 This one day conference, organised by the Scottish Resource Centre for Women in SET, will address the key issues around gender in STEM education and employment, focussing on outcomes set by the Scottish Funding Council and highlighting the actions and measures that higher education institutions are taking.

Glasgow Science Festival - 5th-15th June 2014 This festival has grown to be one of the largest science festivals in the UK taking memorable events to non-traditional venues across the City. The aim is to showcase the outstanding contribution Glasgow and Glasgow based researchers make to the worlds of science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM). at

GSC Are you as fast as Usain Bolt? University of Glasgow, Institute of Health and Wellbeing - 14th & 15th June 2014

Drop in to this guided exhibition at the Centre to find out how science helps improve athletic performance and how elite sport and everyday activity effects your or an athlete’s health.

Queen’s Baton Relay - From 14th June 2014 The Centre’s On Tour team will be travelling around Scotland to bring science to your area as part of the Queen’s Baton Relay. Watch out for more news and dates shortly. at

GSC Question of Science 2014 with Jim Al Khalili - 23rd October 2014

Join theoretical Physicist, Professor Jim Al Khalili, and the Science Centre team at Question of Science Dinner in October. Dine on a sumptuous meal, hear an inspiring talk from Professor Jim and battle it out with other teams to be crowned Question of Science Quiz winners.

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ABOUT mercury Mercury is a print and online publication produced by Glasgow Science Centre to promote science issues in Scotland, to examine the factors facing scientists and engineers, and to profile leading thinkers in industry, government and academia.

thanks Glasgow Science Centre would like to thank everyone who contributed to this edition, and especially our guests Joss Blamire, Oonagh Werngren, Dr Alix Thom, Gavin Nicol and Alison Eaglesham. Thanks also for help with pictures and illustrations: Scottish Renewables, Weir Group, and Oil & Gas UK. If you would like to contribute to future editions of Mercury, please contact us at

BLOG Find out more information about some of the topics covered in Mercury and keep up to date with all the latest from Glasgow Science Centre, by visiting our website and subscribing to our regularly-updated blog:


Glasgow Science Centre is a charity whose mission is to inspire, challenge and engage everyone with the wonders of science.

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