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Session 19A-19B 15:30-17:00 // day two

19A - Social Inclusion and EngagementUniversity of Warwick and Baruch College, CUNY

Religion has a deep connection with the way the world has been shaped as well as the state of current affairs. Billions adhere to a faith of some sort and religion is at the very core of people's identities, beliefs, and actions, making it increasingly important to enhance our knowledge of world religions. Religious literacy is critical for understanding complex issues which impact everyone, from the global superpowers to the toddler in Syria. Promoting religious literacy fosters mutual respect, combats negative stereotypes and enriches religious dialogue and debates around current affairs. Most importantly, religious literacy can translate into positive action and challenge those who utilise religion as a weapon of oppression. I will present my findings from an extensive survey of various young people, aged 12-21, which found that the majority held inaccurate views and unsound stereotypes about various religions. This was mainly due to the power of the mass media and an ineffectiveness of religious education in UK schools. In my second round of research, consisting of face-to-face interviews, I found that many young people believed religious literacy was irrelevant in the 21st century. When discussing the connection between religion and the major issues dominating current affairs, most people changed their minds and believed that not only is religion inseparable to everyday issues but an empowering tool for positive change. At a time where some have even called for religious education in schools to be scrapped, I believe that it should be transformed to better equip young people with relevant and practical knowledge.
Mental health is something that people don’t often talk about despite it being just as important as our physical health. To help combat the stigma that surrounds mental health my research is in the form of a documentary, Mental Health in New York, which makes it accessible to a worldwide audience and breaks the topic up into digest bits of information. The documentary highlights New Yorkers’ experiences with mental illness and the policies that the state is taking to provide and improve the services of those with the illness. The information was obtained from sources such as New York’s Office of Mental Health, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), Journal of Urban Health, The New York Times, the National Institute of Mental Health, NYC Dept. of City Planning, NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYC Dept. of Correction and the Justice Center. I include interviews with professionals, advocates for Mental Health awareness, volunteers and people with SMI, their friends and family, animations and charts that help to present our information easily, original documents from the research and pictures and footage of people and places attached to Mental Health issues in New York. Mental Health in New York has already shown results in helping enlighten those not only in New York, but also in California on the importance of Mental Health. It won 1st place at Baruch College’s Creative Inquiry in the Social Sciences Category and it is an Official Selection (May 2016) of the Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival.

The purpose of this research is to evaluate the English legal system’s adequacy in protecting “outsiders” to the law – namely, women and LGBTQUA+ communities. This research will find that the law is patriarchal with a binary understanding of gender, and that this creates inequality. Furthermore, in the light of a recent argument that paedophilia is a “sexual orientation”, this paper will evaluate the legitimacy of expanding the boundaries of “equality” in relation to Aristotelian arguments on the purpose of the law – that the law should govern for “the greater good of humanity”.

For this research, this paper will discuss Franz Kafka’s “outsider” jurisprudence and analyse Kafka’s perception of what the law “is” and “does” to outsiders. The law’s patriarchy will be demonstrated using Catherine MacKinnon’s radical feminism theories, through its oppression and policing of female sexuality; the laws regarding proprietary interest in the family home; and the law’s insufficiency in protecting victims of domestic violence - as exemplified through the long-due creation of a “controlling and coercive behaviour” offence and landmark police negligence case Michael v Chief Constable of South Wales Police in 2015. This research will portray the law’s failure to protect LGBTQUA+ communities with, primarily, an analysis of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and its unrecognition of transgender defendants when proving “absence of consent” and “deception”.

This research will conclude that through a deconstruction of gender and hypothesis of what the law would be and do if it were non-gendered, the inadequacies of the law may be addressed.

Previous findings on information integration suggest that our decision-making processes are prone to the dilution effect, which emerges when weak evidence reduces the influence of strong evidence even though they are both independently considered positive. The experiment presented here set out to test the dilution effect hypothesis directly by comparing confidence ratings concerning suspects’ guilt among participants who had seen strongly positive evidence only and those who had also seen weak or irrelevant information. A pilot study of 60 University of Warwick students was conducted to select evidence with representative strength levels. The main study involved 240 University of Warwick students who rated their confidence concerning suspects’ guilt in response to the combinations of evidence presented (Strong-plus-Weak and Strong-plus-Irrelevant). In both the pilot and main studies, participants evaluated court trial evidence developed to depict three virtual criminal offences – drug dealing, vandalism and theft – all of which are main crimes in England and Wales (UKCrimeStats, 2016). The results show significant dilution caused by both weak evidence and irrelevant information, and that such an effect tends to be more profound with stimuli that encourage controlled processing over automatic processing. Notwithstanding deviations in the data, the current study has qualified such inconsistencies with reference to the non-normative dilution effect, in which the weak or irrelevant information alters the meaning of the strong evidence when combined. In line with most previous studies, the current findings conform to the motto of “only show your best” in disputes, campaigns and relevant circumstances.

19B - New Perspectives University of Warwick and University of Leeds

In recent years, the number of exoplanets detected via the transit method has greatly increased, owing in part to the exquisite photometric precision of NASA’s Kepler mission. As a result of the consequential rise in both the quantity and quality of data available, astrophysicists are now faced with an unprecedented abundance of unusual and exciting astronomical systems. An example of such a system would be a circumbinary, where a planet orbits both stellar components of its host binary. Circumbinary planets were previously very rare discoveries, but the introduction of Kepler allowed for the transit method to become a viable way of detecting them. Thus far, only ten circumbinaries have been confirmed using planetary transits. We present an investigation into a further candidate, KOI-1741. Light curves were extracted from the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes and used in conjunction with radial velocity data for the system. A Markov Chain Monte Carlo method was employed to establish the optimal set of parameters for the binary, making use of both available data sets. These were used to establish the optimal set of planetary parameters, with the aid of a transit timing code. The overall set of parameters obtained can now be used to find the transit times of the planet. This will go a long way towards ultimately simulating the planet and identifying whether KOI-1741 is a circumbinary system.
The Victorians were famous for their conformity, yet equally for their eccentricity. This is often simply accepted as a peculiar ambiguity and not widely studied. My research therefore concentrates on Victorian perceptions of eccentricity, of how these perceptions changed over the course of the nineteenth century, and what these attitudes towards eccentricity reveal about Victorian society. This provides a novel perspective that challenges common notions about Victorian values. An analysis of the semantics of the words ‘eccentric’ and 'eccentricity' as they appeared in themed literature, periodicals and newspapers, as well as in records of legal proceedings, demonstrates both ambiguity of meaning and a continued fascination and occupation with eccentricity, which rendered it a culturally significant and popular topic. Furthermore, the discourse about eccentricity reveals how writers and members of the public spoke out to defend people’s right to be eccentric at a time when expressions of social deviation were threatened, both by a culture of conformity and the pathologisation of abnormal behaviour. There was a demonstrable increase in arguments in favour of eccentricity made by social-critical Victorians in the face of this growing conformity and fears of excessive homogeneity in society, culture and politics, which eventually even led to the emergence of an intellectual and artistic late-Victorian counter-culture based on eccentricity. This shows that personal liberty was often regarded as more important than social conformity, and that a pronounced streak of social and cultural rebellion that ran right through the Victorian age.

Biobutanol has increasing commercial and environmental interest. It is an alternative renewable fuel with a similar energy density to petroleum compared to shorter chain alcohols, such as ethanol. The conversion of bioethanol to butanol can be achieved via the Guerbet reaction, which consists of three main processes. This research aimed to identify how biological and chemical catalysts could be used to improve yields and butanol selectivity from bioethanol.

The study focussed on investigating the first two Guerbet processes through a series of experiments. Initially, the difficult oxidation of ethanol to acetaldehyde was attempted using alcohol dehydrogenases enzyme and cofactor Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). The enzyme was assayed using spectrophotometry, noting absorption changes at 340nm due to NAD+ concentration.

The subsequent aldol condensation reaction of acetaldehyde and bases was also investigated. The reaction progress was monitored via off-line gas chromatography. This analysis was used to continually modify and optimise the reaction. Room temperature reactions were seen to primarily form high levels of polymerised product due to the reaction between acetaldehyde intermediate enolates. Therefore updated reaction parameters were used; a lower reaction temperature and a slower addition rate of acetaldehyde to the base.

Results for this research are pending. However, when available, the results will be used to develop and produce a viable and efficient method for large-scale conversion of ethanol to butanol, primarily focussing on optimising butanol yields.

Breath-analysis is a novel method of obtaining non-invasive data on the clinical state of an individual through specific sampling and subsequent analysis of exhaled breath. This research field has been gaining interest in the scientific community, due to its potential to provide simple breath tests for lung cancer, diabetes, and malabsorption disorders. However, only the very last portion of exhaled breath (“end-tidal� breath) contains gases that can be used for diagnosis using electronic noses. Moreover, standardised sampling procedures for breath-analysis currently do not exist.

The aim of this project was to design, manufacture and assemble a portable, hand-held breath capture device, which automatically and reproducibly captures end-tidal breath. An extensive literature review was conducted to define the device specification and sampling procedure. Thereafter, components were selected to match the specification as closely as possible. An experimental prototype was assembled to verify the functionality of the system. Subsequently, the device was manufactured and successfully assembled.

The device monitors carbon dioxide (CO2), oxygen, temperature and pressure levels in real-time. The sampling process is initiated by redirecting exhaled air into a medical collection bag, when the CO2 threshold of 3000 ppm (parts-per-million) is surpassed. The sampling process is completed after surpassing the cut-off threshold, at 90% of the maximum CO2 level.

The breath capture device was successfully developed and has performed well during preliminary testing. This advancement should be considered relevant and important, since it may enable breath-analysis to gain widespread usage as a cheap, non-traumatic, and non-invasive alternative to blood analysis.