#1 – About Food and Drink

In our first episode Jason Chu, from the HYH team, joins Katie and Luke to talk about stories they’ve heard in the news about food and drink. Join us to find out if chocolate can stop you aging, how much coffee you should be drinking, and whether wine is harmful or helpful.

Have you heard?

You can live longer if you combine chocolate and zinc, according to new study
Six cups of coffee a day cuts your risks of dying early by 16%
How much wine should you really be drinking?

You can find the Have You Heard? Podcast on YouTube, iTunes, Spotify or your favourite podcasting app. We’re always happy to hear your feedback, so if you have any comments or questions, or if you want to send us a science article that you’ve seen and want to know more about, get in touch. Leave a comment below, send us an email at haveyouhearduk@gmail.com or use our contact form. You can also contact us on Twitter or Facebook.

Music in this episode:
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Have You Heard Podcast

We are very excited to announce the launch of the Have You Heard? podcast!

Each episode, Katie Downes and Luke Chaplin from the HYH team will explore some of the science that they’ve spotted in the news. Joined by a guest, they will bring in news articles that have caught their attention. With a few laughs along the way, they will break down the article, explain the science behind it and sort the facts from the exaggerations.

You can find the Have You Heard podcast on YouTube, iTunes, Spotify or your favourite podcasting app.

The music, kindly provided, was:
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Glasgow Science Festival 2019

When Have You Heard? was first dreamt up by a small group of friends over beers in the pub I don’t think any of us expected it to grow as it has! Over the last 2 years, the team has expanded and travelled across Greater Manchester, connecting adults with science in a community setting.

This month, we launched the Scottish chapter of HYH as part of Glasgow Science Festival. These events, held across a weekend during the Festival, were a bit of an experiment for the project. Usually we reach out to community groups and go to them in their existing community space. This time, we asked the public to come to us.

As nerve-wracking as that was, we needn’t have worried. On both days we had great individuals from across Glasgow join us in Govan Stones (go check them out – their exhibit is incredible!) who kindly hosted us & also provided much appreciated tea, coffee & cake!

We were excited to also have some new members from north of the border join the team to deliver parts of the session. Fingers crossed for more events in Scotland soon!

Making a Difference Award 2019

Back in February, the ‘Have You Heard?’ project was shortlisted for the Making a Difference Awards for Social Responsibility 2019. This is a wonderful achievement that the whole team was proud to be recognised for.

So once it came round to May, the trio of Donna, Jack and myself dressed up to the nines to enjoy an evening celebrating all the great work happening at the University of Manchester. From innovative prison-based modules in criminology, to a hate crime prevention project using Holocaust education in schools and communities across Manchester. It was truly inspiring to learn about the wide spectrum of on-going projects by students and staff of the University of Manchester.

HYH had tough competition in the category of “Outstanding local engagement in public and community engagement initiatives”. This was the most nominated category, taking up almost a third of the applications for the Making A Difference Awards.

It was a shock to us all, but we came back from the awards as winners!

Massive thanks to everyone who has supported us. In particular Engagement@Manchester for the funds to get us started and Dee-Ann Johnson for her eloquent summary of the project – [video]

Here’s to a future of making more of a difference.


Have You Heard? 2018 in Review

As the end of 2018 is rapidly approaching, we wanted to look back of some of the things the HYH team got up to across the last year. We’ve been fortunate enough to visit lots of local groups to hear about the types of health and science stories that have caught people’s attention. The feedback from the groups helped us to develop our handy infographic to help people judge the reliability of research-focused media reports. We’ve even used the infographic to judge news stories for our own blog posts. The image below gives you a flavour of the topics we were writing blogs about in the past year.

In the past few months, we have been joined by a host of new members, who bring lots of new and exciting ideas for HYH in 2019. So stay tuned, and in the meantime- we thank you for your support and wish you happy and healthy holidays!

Have You Heard? at Ziferblat NQ

For the final session of 2018, the HYH team ventured over to the Northern Quarter in Manchester to work with a group of young adults with Katharine Cresswell from Public Programmes Manchester.

This was a new challenge for the HYH project, as we’ve never had a real chance to trial out our workshop with teenagers.

However, we had an engaged group who were interested and found it “thought provoking” to explore this world between science and the media that they had never acknowledged before. This definitely gave us an insight into what the younger generation may do to seek the news, and how they interpret the cutting edge science that surrounds us.

We opened the floor to discussion and it was impossible to avoid the CRISPR genetically modified baby in China that broke headlines. We continued our conversation on the science, the ethics, the cultural differences, and the media frenzy alongside it.

We followed up with Jack Barton explaining the process of science making its way into the media with his own experience as an avid blogger, and how his stories have been skewed incorrectly by the media. After getting an idea of the journey from the lab, to publication, to journalism – we all got a better view of where and how miscommunication of the message could occur.

New recruit, Julieta O’Flaherty, then took over and ran the Headline Game and we went through some examples of sensationalised headlines from recent years.


We explained the science behind some of these stories, and gave our young adults the infographic and tools required to pick apart what is real science, misunderstood terms, and just plain “fake news”.

Take things with a pinch of salt and remember to read past the headline!


HYH at Science Spectacular!

Last week the HYH team did something a little bit different to usual. We joined up with a plethora of the best scientists and communicators from the University of Manchester (among many other fantastic institutions) at Science Spectacular, part of the Manchester Science Festival.

Joining Jason, Donna, Kirsty and myself was new recruit Maddy who jumped right in at the deep end without breaking a sweat! We had a fantastic time chatting about recent science stories in the news and just generally how we hear about scientific discoveries. We also had some great discussions about how science gets from the lab to the headline and, importantly, how you can use our infographic to cut through the hype and get an idea of the research behind the headlines. We even managed to make some great contacts for groups that we can visit in the future!

HYH Sci Spec

All in all a hugely enjoyable day (and fun for me to be back in Manchester for the first time in a while). Watch this space for our next sessions and some other exciting updates from the Have You Heard? Team!

Have You Heard? at Hanna Court

How times flies, we’ve been running Have you heard for almost a year now! In June the HYH team visited the residents of Hanna Court retirement community in Handforth for another great session about science in the news. We enjoyed hearing the group’s perspectives on a wide variety of science news stories, from cannabis treatments for epilepsy to the effects of plastic on the environment. It’s always fantastic to hear people speaking up about the topics that interest them and this was no exception. We also discussed the pitfalls of reporting science and how information can get lost along the way. We learned a lot about what catches this group’s attention and how they decide which stories to trust. At times the discussion was personal for both sides which made the session memorable for all involved. One resident said in feedback “Thank you so much for personalising science.”

We were also excited to share our newly printed infographic with some simple tips for reading science news stories. This got a good reception and we are looking forward to sharing it with other groups in future. If you are interested in HYH visiting you to discuss science in the news we would be happy to discuss a meeting, get in touch with us here.

Have You Heard? goes on the radio!


We’re always looking for new ways to get out into communities here at Have You Heard? but that is sometimes easier said than done. However, every now and then we get a fantastic opportunity.

On March 19th Mike and Kirsty from the HYH team were invited to chat with Roz Brown on her show ‘Out For Lunch With Silver Seniors’ live on Wythenshawe FM. We had an absolute ball of a time and learnt a huge amount from Roz.

Thanks so much to Roz for having us on and sending us this recording!

Here is that recording for anyone who missed it…

China’s falling satellite: a down to Earth summary


Artists impression of the Tiangong-1 space station. Credit: CMSE/China Manned Space Engineering Office

Tiangong-1, China’s first space station, will fall to Earth between Friday 30th March and Monday 2nd April. The heady brew of international politics and a rogue satellite putting Easter weekend at risk has fuelled these juicy meteorophobic headlines:

“OUT OF CONTROL Chinese satellite could hit Earth in three days – and boffs don’t know where” – The Sun, 27th March 2018

“Out-of-control Chinese space station is predicted to smash back into the Earth’s atmosphere over Easter – and Australia is in the ‘impact zone’” – The Daily Mail, 27th March 2018

To answer the immediate questions these headlines raise:

  • Yes, this satellite is big enough that some of it will hit Earth. It is about 10m long and with fuel weighed 8.5 tonnes. The biggest uncontrolled re-entry was NASA’s Skylab at 74 tonnes in 1979.
  • The probability of a part hitting a person are 10 million times smaller than getting struck by lightning in a year. This is because most of Earth’s surface is uninhabited thanks to oceans and deserts.
  • No one has ever been killed by space junk.

This is the latest instalment in a growing narrative around the danger of space junk – discarded bits of rockets and satellites which are gradually falling out of orbit and back to Earth. This is a very real problem, and sizeable chunks of space agencies are devoted to predicting space junk re-entry, most notably ESA’s Space Debris Office and NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office.

Incredibly, all of the junk in orbit is tracked (cool interactive where you can track TIANGONG 1 in a cloud of other junk). This is so that satellites like the international space station can dodge them and not become space junk themselves. The worst case scenario, named the Kessler Syndrome, is a chain reaction of collisions reducing all of the satellites we rely on to a fine, glittering cloud of debris that ultimately blocks our access to space. Notable recent steps towards this dystopia came in 2007, when China converted their own satellite into 3000 pieces of junk with a passive-aggressive missile (yup China is ‘that flatmate’ when it comes to, erm, communal space..), and 2009, when a commercial American satellite and a Russian military satellite collided yielding 2000 more pieces. The current tally is around 16000 pieces of trackable space junk with a range of particle sizes stretching from centimetres to whole spent rocket bodies from past space missions.

Thankfully, almost all objects falling to Earth are not only slowed by the air resistance as they speed through Earth’s atmosphere, but are heated rapidly until they burn-up harmlessly about 80km above the ground. This will be the fate of almost all space junk, however pieces with high melting points (e.g. tungsten metal parts) will make it down to Earth’s surface. Most of these are tiny fragments and do not impact with enough force to injure anyone. Large or dense pieces will also make it to Earth’s surface and pose the most risk to people. Luckily the Earth is very sparsely populated due to oceans and deserts, so the chances of you being hit by space junk are currently numbered at 1 in several trillion.


Where Tiangong-1 could land. The graph left shows population density. The graph right is the probability of reentry for each latitude. Image courtesy of ESA.

So what is the most likely fate of poor Tiangong-1? Most of Tiangong-1 will burn up in our atmosphere, the rest will land in the sea, and Earthlings will go back to eating chocolate eggs and reading the Sunday papers.