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Peter shoots for the stars

01 March 2013

Press Office

Teenager poised for scientific stardom

Lancashire youngster Peter Tipping is poised for scientific stardom after he was put through to the finals of a national science and engineering competition.

Peter, 18, was one of 40,000 people to apply for the competition and his work on a project called ‘Deconstructing the X-shaped Bulge of the Milky Way’ was completed as part of the Nuffield Science Bursary Scheme at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Peter worked in the galaxy dynamics research group of Dr Victor Debattista.

The teenager, who currently attends Hutton Grammar School, will now present at the The Big Bang: UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair in March, which is being held at National Science + Engineering Week, as he pits himself against the nation’s brightest young minds for a chance to win a £2,000 prize.

“I have enjoyed science since a young age and it was one of my stronger subjects in school”

Longton-based Peter completed his work during a six week placement scheme at UCLan where he developed software for observing simulations from within the galaxy itself.

This allowed Peter to treat the simulations like they were the Milky Way, our home galaxy, and then compare the structures in the simulations with the ones observed in the Milky Way.

Peter said: “I have enjoyed science since a young age and it was one of my stronger subjects in school.

“The Nuffield Science Bursary Scheme has helped me to learn a great deal about coding computers and I have thoroughly enjoyed it”


“The Nuffield Science Bursary Scheme has helped me to learn a great deal about coding computers and I have thoroughly enjoyed it – especially the practical aspect of it.

“I am also really proud to be put through to the finals and I can’t wait to present my work.”

Victor Debattista, a Reader from UCLan’s Jeremiah Horrocks Institute, works alongside the Nuffield Science Bursary Scheme at UCLan to support high school students and give them an insight into University life.

Victor said: “I’m so proud of Peter and it comes as no shock that he’s done so well. I know he’s thoroughly enjoyed the learning experience and he certainly has a bright future ahead of him.”

The video shows an animation of a simulation that closely matches the Milky Way.  When seen from above, the galaxy has a bar at the centre which, from the bottom side presents an X-shaped profile but from the direction at which we see the Milky Way, looks boxy.