Chemistry comes alive at the Botanic Garden

thisisoxfordshire: Senior curator Dr Alison Foster at the Botanic Garden Buy this photo » Senior curator Dr Alison Foster at the Botanic Garden

VISITORS to the Botanic Garden in Oxford are being invited to listen and learn about the chemistry giving plants flavours, colours and medicinal properties.

A new audio tour features recordings of students and chemistry lecturers at Oxford University who reveal what fascinates them about plants.

As visitors walk around the garden, off High Street, they can use a hand-held device to trigger recordings about the plants around them.

Senior curator Dr Alison Foster said: “This audio trail is a fantastic way for research scientists to engage with the public about chemistry.

“This trail will show everyone how important chemistry is and how relevant it is to all aspects of our daily lives.”

Visitors can discover the way that lotus leaves use microscopic ‘cushions’ of air to repel raindrops, how ginger gets its many distinctive flavour from a cocktail of molecules, and how the snowdrop is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Chairman of the Department of Chemistry Prof Tim Softley said: “Chemistry is all around us, and we see it as our responsibility, as leading scientists, to make the subject exciting, relevant, approachable and fun.”

In March, an audio guide was created at the garden featuring a recording by author Philip Pullman about a bench which featured in the His Dark Materials trilogy.

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