PREVIOUS EVENTS

  • Tue
    22
    Jan
    2008
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr. Blumsohn

    Dr. Blumsohn will discuss important ethical issues arising from the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and universities. Who has ownership of, and rights of access to, data? How accountable for the final results are all the authors of scientific papers? Is it possible to spin the results of scientific experiments and data so that they look more acceptable? How ethical are the drugs regulators? How independent are medical journals? And where does this leave the patient?

  • Tue
    05
    Feb
    2008
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Prof. Horne of the Sleep Research Centre

    This is The Science of Sleep – not the dream sequence film, but a look at how and why we sleep.  Have you ever fallen asleep unexpectedly (theatre, cinema, bath, etc)?  How does it change you if you dont get a “good nights sleep”?  Have you ever seen a car swerve on the road and wondered if the drivers eyelids may have closed for longer than a blink?
    “Sleep knits the ravelled sleeve of care,” said Macbeth as he reached his low point, and we all know that things can look better in the morning.  Surely there must be more to sleep than the idea that being tired makes you feel bad and being well rested makes you feel good.

  • Tue
    27
    Jan
    2009
    Dr. Corry Gellatly of the Evolutionary Biology Group at Newcastle University)

    We all know how babies are made …but what what are the odds of having a boy?  50-50? The moment any child is born we know whether it is a girl or a boy.  Anyone who has had a child since the recession before last will know that the sex of a child can be determined on an ultrasound scan at 12 weeks, but of course the embryo is already either male or female when it is an unrecognizable cluster of cells.
    What factors make it more likely that a bunch of flowers – stay for a coffee – failure of contraception will result in a baby boy 9 months later rather than a baby girl?  Why do some couples have more boy children, and others more girls?  Why are there clusters of boys born at certain times?  Does evolution have any effect on whether more children are girls than boys?
    Dr Corry Gellatly of the Evolutionary Biology Group at Newcastle University has been studying the possible genetic reasons that explain why a particular baby is more likely to be a girl, or why a population may be full of boy babies.

  • Tue
    27
    Jan
    2009
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Raymond Tallis, who was Professor of Geriatric Medicine at Manchester University until he left to become a full time writer in 2006)

    Raymond Talliss' main interest is what makes humans different from other animals and recently he has written two books The Kingdom of Infinite Space which is about the range of activities which go on in our heads, and Hunger.
    He will be speaking on Hunger (although he will also answer questions on the other book). The idea behind the book is that understanding hunger is the key to understanding ourselves. Even first-level biological hunger is experienced differently in humans and little in human feeding behaviour has any parallel in the animal kingdom. Out of our primary appetites arise a myriad of pleasures and tastes that are elaborated in second level hedonistic hungers, creating new values. The art of living is the art of managing our hungers.
    Find out more about Raymond Tallis: wikipedia, Guardian interview, Times Online, The Great Debate, Prospect Magazine, YouTube

  • Tue
    24
    Feb
    2009
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr. Corry Gellatly of the Evolutionary Biology Group at Newcastle University

    We all know how babies are made …but what what are the odds of having a boy?  50-50? The moment any child is born we know whether it is a girl or a boy.  Anyone who has had a child since the recession before last will know that the sex of a child can be determined on an ultrasound scan at 12 weeks, but of course the embryo is already either male or female when it is an unrecognizable cluster of cells.
    What factors make it more likely that a bunch of flowers – stay for a coffee – failure of contraception will result in a baby boy 9 months later rather than a baby girl?  Why do some couples have more boy children, and others more girls?  Why are there clusters of boys born at certain times?  Does evolution have any effect on whether more children are girls than boys?
    Dr Corry Gellatly of the Evolutionary Biology Group at Newcastle University has been studying the possible genetic reasons that explain why a particular baby is more likely to be a girl, or why a population may be full of boy babies.

  • Wed
    18
    Mar
    2009
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Frank Close Professor, of Theoretical Physics at Oxford University)

    Of all the mind-bending discoveries of physics--quarks, black holes, strange attractors, curved space--the existence of antimatter is one of the most bizarre. It is also one of the most difficult, literally and figuratively, to grasp. Frank Close explores this strange mirror world, where particles have identical yet opposite properties to those that make up the familiar matter we encounter everyday, where left becomes right, positive becomes negative, and where--should matter and antimatter meet--the resulting flash of blinding energy would make even thermonuclear explosions look feeble by comparison. Antimatter is an idea long beloved of science-fiction writers--but here, renowned science writer Frank Close shows that the reality of antimatter is even more intriguing than the fiction. We know that at one time antimatter and matter existed in perfect counterbalance, and that antimatter then perpetrated a vanishing act on a cosmic scale that remains one of the great mysteries of the universe. Today, antimatter does not exist normally, at least on Earth, but we know that it is real, as scientists are now able to make small pieces of it in particle accelerators, such as that at CERN in Geneva

  • Tue
    24
    Mar
    2009
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Patricia Fara, who lectures in the History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University)

    Patricia Fara rewrites science\s past to provide new ways of understanding and questioning our modern technological society. Aiming not just to provide information but to make people think, she explores how science has become so powerful by describing the financial interests and imperial ambitions behind its success. Instead of focussing on esoteric experiments and abstract theories, she explains how science belongs to the practical world of war, politics and business. And rather than glorifying scientists as idealized heroes, she tells true stories about real people--men (and some women) who needed to earn their living, who made mistakes, and who trampled down their rivals. Finally she challenges scientific supremacy itself, arguing that science is successful not because it is always indubitably right, but because people have said that it is right. Science dominates modern life, but perhaps the globe will be better off by limiting science\s powers and undoing some of its effects.

  • Mon
    18
    May
    2009
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr. Andrew Nelson, from Leeds University

    It is an understatement to say that science and technology are impacting both positively and negatively more than ever today.  Issues such as global warming, environmental pollution, public health and many others are in the forefront of the agenda and hotly discussed.

    But how can we manage this debate in the best possible interest of mankind?  How do we improve the communication between the scientists and technologists and the public to avoid some of the disasters and scares which we have experienced over the last fifty years or so?  This café will detail the nature of the interface between science and the people and how it has maintained itself up to now. A few case studies will be described with all their too familiar outcomes. At the end of the session we hope to come up with some ideas of how an  improvement in the way such communication can be implemented.

  • Mon
    22
    Jun
    2009
    Dr. Martin Whyte from Sheffield University

    \Ida is a cat-size skeleton from Germany which made the Google Home Page on May 20th and was the subject of a BBC documentary. At present it is being shown in museums round the world, being described as finding the Holy Grail for Palaeontologists and the first link to humans. It was illegally dug out of a pit near Frankfurt in 1983 and sold to a private collector who hung it on the wall of his home. In 2006 he offered it to the Natural History Museum in Oslo for $1 million. Oslo bought it and then secretly investigated it for 2 years before publishing on an online journal on May 19th this year and simultaneously making a documentary. Now the claims that Ida is a missing link are being disputed and the fossil is the subject of much controversy.
    Is this what palaeontology is like – secrecy, illegal mining, high-cost buying, media interest and bold claims? Dr. Martin Whyte is a paleo-environmentalist from Sheffield University and his own interests are dinosaur footprints and dinosaur eggs.

  • Mon
    13
    Jul
    2009
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    David Wilkinson, from John Moores University in Liverpool)

    Big Questions is the title of a new book and David Wilkinson is one of the two authors. The book explores the relationship between ecology and evolution by asking simple questions which have deep implications for both subject areas. Some of the questions are Why do we age?, Why is the land green (instead of being overgrazed by expanding populations of herbivores)?, Why is the sea blue (as opposed to being thick with plants, as most terrestrial habitats are)?, Why does life not consist of a single species?. The answers to these questions sometimes produce surprising ideas and information.

  • Mon
    05
    Oct
    2009
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Graeme Gooday, Professor of History of Science & Technology at the University of Leeds

    There is a lot of science communication about nowadays, and it is increasingly taught by universities too. But who is it really for, and what is it meant to achieve?  Does the public really "need" to know more about science? Or is it more that scientists need it to ensure that their research can still flourish in an increasingly challenging socio-economic climate? Insofar as the public does need to know more about science, does it actually get the kind of science communication it  deserves? Is it ever legitimate, for example, to present new scientific projects as essential to preserve humankind from apocalypse, or as destined to free us from bodily infirmity? This talk will explore these questions, and suggest that maybe we've been here before...

  • Mon
    15
    Feb
    2010
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Melanie Bayley

    What would Lewis Carroll\s \Alice\s Adventures in Wonderland\ be without the Cheshire Cat, the trial, the Duchesss baby or The Mad Hatters Tea Party? These famous characters are missing from the original story the author told Alice Liddell and her 2 sisters during a boat trip near Oxford . What inspired these later additions?

    Lewis Carroll was Charles Dodgson, a stubbornly conservative mathematician at Oxford . He valued Euclids Elements as the epitome of mathematical thinking, starting with a few axioms and building complex arguments through simple, logical steps in geometry and trigonometry. But the 19th century was a turbulent time for mathematics with new concepts like imaginary numbers, symbolic logic, projective geometry and quaternions. For Dodgson this was all semi-colloquial and therefore parodied in Alice – hence the Cheshire Cat, the Duchesss baby and the Mad Hatters Tea Party – each one a critique of the new mathematics. This is a new analysis of Alice , originated by Melanie Bayley a PhD student from Oxford.

  • Mon
    01
    Mar
    2010
    Dr. Simon Lewis

    Article 2 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change states that its goal is to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.  Understanding how human actions change the climate system, and the impacts of these changes on people and their life-support systems is a role for science, whereas deciding what is dangerous (to whom?), and how to avoid it (at what cost?), is within the realm of politics. This logical mix of science and politics had led to much confusion. The 15th UN meeting on climate change was no exception, despite unprecedented media scrutiny.

    Dr Simon Lewis is a Royal Society research fellow at the Earth & Biosphere Institute, University of Leeds , and an expert in the role of tropical forests in the changing Earth system.  He was in Copenhagen advising a central African government and took time out of doing science to get involved in the negotiations. He will give a brief summary of how we got to Copenhagen via the IPCC and CRU email hack and what the outcome of the UN talks might mean.

    This talk was suggested by Dominic Rayner, so he will chair the meeting and there will be  short presentation by Phil Exell, who manages our website, which has been upgraded.

  • Mon
    15
    Mar
    2010
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr Bruce Turnbull

    Imagine a world in which we could make fuels or pharmaceuticals in the same way we ferment malt to make beer.  A world in which materials as strong as steel are made without industrial waste, or artificial viruses can be used to administer anti-cancer drugs without the usual side-effects of chemotherapy. Synthetic biology promises new technologies that could change our lives through the construction of new biological parts and devices, and the redesign of existing biological organisms for new purposes.

    So, how can we redesign living organisms to perform useful functions? Are we on the point of creating artificial life in a laboratory?  Dr Bruce Turnbull, a synthetic chemical biologist from the University of Leeds will provide an overview of synthetic biology – the possibilities, practicalities, perils and potential profits.

  • Mon
    17
    May
    2010
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr. Paul Ruffle

    Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are!\" How often did we sing that as a child without realising what we were asking? Well, with the aid of some of the latest astronomical images, the wonder of what stars are is revealed in this presentation that includes: how stars form in clouds of molecular gas and dust scattered about in the interstellar medium (ISM) of our Milky Way galaxy; how they then evolve and synthesise the elements that make life possible; and how at the end of their lives, they return this material to the ISM for the next generation of stars, either as red giants and planetary nebulae or more catastrophically as exploding supernovae. The speaker also provides a feel for the sheer number of stars in the Milky Way, the enormous distance scales in our Galaxy and the range of densities encountered, from the most tenuous parts of the ISM to the compact cores of the most massive stars.

    Paul ruffle is a visiting research fellow in the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at The University of Manchester and the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen\s University Belfast.

  • Mon
    07
    Jun
    2010
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Professor Howard Atkinson and Dr. Peter Unwin Centre of Plant Sciences University of Leeds

    Over 1 billion people are chronically hungry including 30% of all Africans and we need 50% more food to be produced within 20 years to feed the growing world population. We have little more land available globally for productive cropping and the yield from some agricultural land may fall. There are several key questions we must address:

    - Can GM crops help feed the world and what are the real limitations to ensuring food security?

    - What are the risks for us and the environment?

    - Are the concerns real and can they be managed?

    - Is this science irrelevant to European needs?

    - How would being a hungry African rather than a well fed European alter your viewpoint?

    Scientists have a duty to listen to the concerns of society while meeting the challenge of providing new, beneficial crops that are safe to eat and ensure a healthy environment. Surely UK science must contribute to assuring future food security for all.

  • Mon
    19
    Jul
    2010
    Dr. Katie Slocombe from York University

    Dr. Katie Slocombe spoke at a recent conference in Holland about the evolution of language. Her previous and current work focusses on chimpanzee vocal communication and, in particular, the extent to which our closest living relatives can use calls to refer to objects and events in the external environment and the psychological mechanisms underlying call production. This behavioural work is conducted with both wild and captive populations of chimpanzees.

    The debate about language seems to be moving fast. Whereas some years ago Chomskys theory of language seemed universal, there is now debate about the relation between gestures and the spoken word, and also about the relative importance of animals or birds in the development of human language.

  • Tue
    09
    Nov
    2010
    Dr Terry Kee is Aurora Research Fellow in Astrobiology, Dept of Chemistry, University of Leeds

    Dr. Kerry Tee will be coming to Chapel Allerton Café Scientifique on Tuesday November 9th.

    It may sound like the stuff of a cheap science fiction novel, but could it be possible that the first life on earth was seeded by something that arrived on earth from a comet, or on space dust?  If so, how did it get there?  What happened that turned some molecules into animate forms?  In any case, what defines “life”?

    If these questions dont seem too alarmingly vast to contemplate, well see you at the next Café Scientifique.

  • Tue
    23
    Nov
    2010
    Dr. Jan Zalasiewicz Senior, Lecturer in Paleobiology at Leicester University

    When we go to the beach we want to see the sea, not the pebbles. Even although pebbles can be smooth and shiny with curious veins of bright colours through them we pick them up to throw them into the sea. However if geology, paleontology and molecular analysis are used to describe them, then we get stories which take us back to the Earths formation and then further back to the births and deaths of ancient stars. Something of the Earths future too, may be glimpsed beneath its smooth contours. So pebbles remind us that human history is just a piece of flash photography.

  • Mon
    31
    Jan
    2011
    Damian Tambini from the London School of Economics

    Moveable type and mechanized printing led to an explosion of free expression which was key to the emergence of modern democracies. Many claim that the historical impact of the Internet will lead to the inevitable undermining of authoritarian regimes and the spread of democracy round the globe. But is this true? Or could democratic governments working with private companies be perfecting a new form of authoritarianism, working with the grain of Internet communication and exploiting the intimate entwining of online communication with the everyday lives of citizens? Is privacy now at risk, or is it censorship that is at risk, now that Wikileaks are online? How should we approach the Internet? What do we know and what dont we know?

  • Mon
    28
    Feb
    2011
    Musician and computer Scientist Kia Ng and Geologist Bruce Yardley

    Musician and Computer Scientist Kia Ng, and Geologist Bruce Yardley, helped lead a recent project to develop a musical instrument using the rocks of Cumbria - the significance being that Cumbria was a hot-bed of lithophone activity in the 19th century. The new instrument, designed in collaboration with Dame Evelyn Glennie, was demonstrated by her at Ruskin\s home, Brantwood, last August. At this café they will discuss and demonstrate why some rocks ring, how they can be tuned, and the different ways in which they can be made into percussion instruments.

  • Mon
    21
    Mar
    2011
    Dr. Andrew Benest from the Leeds Cancer Research UK Centre

    In 1971 Richard Nixon declared The War on Cancer, appropriated $100 million and hoped it would be won within a decade. Why has this not happened?

    Cancer is the result of normal cells going wrong. The ingredients that make a cancer cell are found in every other cell type in the body.  When a cancer cell grows and divides it relies on the body to provide it with oxygen and food, and also to remove all its nasty waste products.  This is like any other cell, and because of this the body happily responds in a predictable way. Blood vessels carry nutrients all around the body, and the tumour tells blood vessels to grow closer and closer, and eventually into the cancer itself. This is an entirely normal response, and in healthy people it is generally only found in embryonic development, exercise training, and phases of the reproductive cycle. So Cancer uses the methods that make the body grow.

    Andrew Benest is involved in research using the human immune system and common viruses to attack cancer cells.

  • Mon
    16
    May
    2011
    Tim Wright, Royal Society University Research Fellow at the School of Earth and Environment University of Leeds

    Earthquakes have killed more than 700,000 people in the last 10 years. But as we make better and better observations, it seems that earthquakes may be fundamentally unpredictable. So whats the point of earthquake science? During this Cafe Scientifique discussion, Tim will try to defend his existence. Drawing on his experiences working on earthquakes in Iran , Turkey , Pakistan , Japan , and elsewhere, he hopes to convince you that earthquake science can, does, and will save lives, even in the absence of short-term predictions.

  • Mon
    06
    Jun
    2011
    Professor Wade Allison from Oxford University

    For more than 60 years it has been accepted that radiation, that is nuclear radiation, is quite exceptionally dangerous. In this discussion this question is re-examined and the answer is shown to be rather unexpected. Wade Allison\s message is simple - we\ve got it wrong about nuclear power. In the light of such understanding, nuclear technology may be viewed differently – indeed welcomed and used carefully to benefit the environment for the future, without fear or excessive cost.

    Professor Allison is a nuclear and medical physicist at the University of Oxford where he has studied and taught for over 40 years. He read Natural Sciences at Cambridge before beginning a career in particle physics, studying in particular the electromagnetic field of relativistic particles and its use in experimental detectors at CERN and elsewhere.

  • Tue
    14
    Jun
    2011
    Professor Samir Okasha from Bristol University

    Humans engage in Altruism and many \pro-social\ behaviours - that is, behaviours which appear to be personally costly but to benefit others. Social science, in particular when based on rational choice theory, has long struggled to explain such behaviours, as they appear to directly contradict the assumptions of individual rationality and self-interest. It may be that evolutionary biology may help fill the explanatory gap and there is an intimate link between evolutionary theory and the theory of rational behaviour. But at present there is a biter dispute among the scientists studying altruism.

  • Mon
    12
    Sep
    2011
    David Hirst, professional Risk Manager and Engineer with 13 years experience in the competitive European Energy markets with RWE npower Drax Power and Yorkshire Electricity

    Electricity (or \"power\" as our American cousins prefer) is taken for granted in the developed world. That we have uninterrupted and unlimited electricity at the flick of a switch is taken as a defining feature of how advanced society is. However, the global balance of supply and demand for energy commodities is changing, and there is a growing acceptance of the adverse impact energy use has on our environment. Combined, these are leading us into a period of what is likely to be major change in how electricity (power) is delivered to the people. How electricity is generated, transmitted / distributed, supplied and measured will have to change. To understand how it could change requires an understanding of how the electricity system works today - in terms of both its economics and engineering.

  • Mon
    26
    Sep
    2011
    Professor George Rousseau, cultural historian and professor in the History Faculty at Oxford University

    Sensibility, as the word suggests, denoted everything related to the senses of mankind, especially the emotions and passions. But it also boasted its lineage in sense: ordinary common sense. It arose during the Enlightenment as a philosophical challenge to mechanism and cause and effect rationality, and eventually toppled them. Its encounters with science of all types over the next century were as fraught as they were controversial.

  • Mon
    10
    Oct
    2011
    Frank Close Professor of Physics at Oxford University

    Neutrinos are perhaps the most enigmatic particles in the universe. Formed in certain radioactive decays, they pass through most matter with ease. These tiny, ghostly particles are formed in millions in the Sun and pass through us constantly. For a long time they were thought to be massless, and passing as they do like ghosts they were not regarded as significant. Now we know they have a very small mass, and there are strong indications that they are very important indeed. It is speculated that a heavy form of neutrino, that is both matter and antimatter, may have shaped the balance of matter and antimatter in the early universe.

    8pm - 9:30pm approx

  • Tue
    01
    Nov
    2011
    Tony Ryan, a professor of physical chemistry

    Tony Ryan leads Sheffield University's Project Sunshine, which incorporates pure and applied scientific research in energy, food and global change. The project aims to “harness the power of the sun to tackle the biggest challenge facing the world today: meeting the increasing food and energy needs of the worlds population in the context of an uncertain climate and global environment change. Hopefully Project Sunshine will change the way scientists think and work and will become the inspiration for a new generation of scientists focused on solving the worlds problems.

  • Sun
    11
    Dec
    2011
  • Sun
    08
    Jan
    2012
  • Sun
    12
    Feb
    2012
    Alasdair Beal

    In a change to the advertised event Alasdair Beal will be giving a talk on Polymaths.

    Polymaths are fascinating, entertaining people but they have little significance to the mainstream scientific progress. Alasdair Beal suggests that this view is mistaken, with examples from Leonardo da Vinci to Robert Hooke and from Thomas Young to Hedy Lamarr. Alasdair Beal is a civil and structural engineer based in Leeds.

  • Mon
    27
    Feb
    2012
    Ernie Rutter Professor of Structural Geology at the University of Manchester

    Ernie Rutter will speak on the controversial method of extracting natural gas from below the shale rock of Lancashire and other places – known as “fracking”.  Find out how fracking works, and whether this is Britains best chance of obtaining short-term energy security; or could it lead to groundwater pollution, and have fracking tests already caused earth tremors near Blackpool?

  • Sun
    11
    Mar
    2012
    Steve Compton
  • Tue
    13
    Mar
    2012
    Dr Liz Rylott

    Dr Liz Rylott is a senior researcher at the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at York University. She will be talking about her teams research, and in particular her specialist area: Explosive-Eating Plants. Can plants really detoxify some of the most dangerously polluted parts of the world?

  • Mon
    16
    Apr
    2012
    Prof Jeff Forshaw

    Jeff Forshaw is Professor of Theoretical Physics at Manchester University. His latest book is \"The Quantum Universe\". He will be describing the notorious strangeness of quantum theory, and will tell us why physics is beautiful. If you\ve ever wanted to ask how we can be so certain about fundamental uncertainty, now\s your chance. Jeff Forshaw has appeared on radio and TV in recent months, commenting on the various findings of the CERN experiments, and is co-author of 2 best-selling science books:

    "Why Does e = mc2? (and why should we care?)" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-mrj1qrCFk

    and

    "The quantum universe" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=903-PyV6Oe8

  • Tue
    15
    May
    2012
    Robert Cywinski Professor of Physics at the university of Huddersfield

    Robert Cywinski, Professor of Physics at the university of Huddersfield, is a leading expert in the development and operation of particle accelerators. He has also researched the use of radioactive materials in medical treatment. He is currently working on the exploitation of the element Thorium as a nuclear fuel. Irans enrichment of uranium, and the recent meltdown at Fukushima, are only two of the issues facing the nuclear power industry. If the worst projections of climate change are to be avoided, the global population will be increasingly reliant on nuclear power – but how can it be made cleaner and safer? And will we always be worried that the nuclear fuel could be adapted to create apocalyptic weaponry? Prof Cywinski will talk to us about the benefits of using Thorium as the fuel of the next generation of power plants.

  • Tue
    12
    Jun
    2012
    Dr Laura Nelson

    Laura Nelson studied at the University of Cambridge and has a doctorate in neuroscience. Now a writer and campaigner, she writes the political blog Delilah (delilah-mj.blogspot.co.uk). In December 2011, she ran the Hamleys campaign which resulted in the world famous toyshop\s gender signs being replaced by toy category signs and caused a media storm - it was covered in most of the national newspapers, radio, TV and media across the world and triggered debates for weeks. So why was there so much media attention? Do boys and girls, and men and women, think and behave differently or is this a false assumption? Set aside your prejudices and prepare for controversy as Laura dissects the landscape in the science underlying the gender debate and explains why it matters to society.

  • Tue
    03
    Jul
    2012
    Professor David Healy of Psychiatry at Bangor University

    Are prescription medicines safe? Are the side effects of drugs brushed under the carpet? Who regulates medical testing? Who controls the regulators? Why do we not see all the results of medical tests? Why are drugs so expensive? Have the large pharmaceutical companies hijacked the healthcare budget?

    In the struggle against money, can data, honesty and evidence prevail?

    Professor David Healy will reveal the secrets behind randomized controlled trials. He will demonstrate how statistics can be manipulated to hide unpleasant truths (and inconvenient corpses). He will tell us how medicine could be rescued from its present predicament.

    David Healy is Professor of Psychiatry at Bangor University. He has written a number of books about anti-depressants and other psychiatric treatments (including Let Them Eat Prozac and Pharmageddon which covers our current crisis in healthcare).

  • Tue
    18
    Sep
    2012
    Dr David James (Sheffield Hallam University )

    Sport captures the imagination, ignites passion and creates heroes. Whilst we love to shroud sport in mystique and elevate our greatest athletes to the status of Demigod, the laws of physics can explain even the most extraordinary sporting phenomena. Athletes may try to bend the rules of the game,  but they can never break the laws of physics.

    Dr David James (Sheffield Hallam University) will discuss the physics of cricket and explain why swing bowling may not be as dependent on the Headingley cloud cover as one might think.   He will also speak about the significant technological advances that his research centre contributed to Team GB in preparation for London 2012.

  • Tue
    02
    Oct
    2012
    Professor Andrew Bell

    Piezoelectric materials convert mechanical to electrical energy, and vice-versa. They have excited the interest of scientists since their discovery by the Curie brothers in 1880. Perhaps more fascinating are the thousands of todays devices and technologies that rely on these little-known materials. But environmental legislation threatens the benefits these materials bring to our lives in healthcare, transport and entertainment, so there is a global search for new piezoelectric materials.

    Professor Bell will provide an insight into the world of piezoelectric materials and devices. He will also invite you to enter the debate on whether we should live with the potential health risks inherent in some materials because of their social benefits.

    Andrew Bell has been Professor of Electronic Materials at the University of Leeds since 2000. Originally a physicist, he has become a materials scientist by osmosis, returning to a university career after 15 years in the electronics industry developing new materials and devices.

    This event will be sponsored by Leeds Bradford Materials Engineering Society so will be free to all.

  • Tue
    23
    Oct
    2012
    Professor Christopher Marrows Leeds University

    Graphene is \the new wonder material\ for which the 2010 Physics Nobel Prize was awarded. According to Nobel Laureate Andre Geim, it the world\s thinnest, strongest, stiffest, most stretchable, most thermally conducting material with the most mobile electrons known to science. Graphene has inspired a thousand more scientific discoveries and has potential in applications as diverse as ultrafast electronics, ultrathin displays, single molecule gas detection, cheap solar energy, and room temperature distillation of vodka.

    Graphene is a truly two-dimensional material that consists of a single sheet of carbon atoms. For decades scientists believed no such material was possible and yet it can be made, in artisan quantities, simply by drawing a line with a pencil.

    Prof Marrows will tell us how this material was discovered, how its extraordinary properties arise, and what the future holds as it moves from science fact to industrial material.

    This event will be sponsored by the Leeds Bradford Materials Engineering Society, so will be free to all.

  • Tue
    20
    Nov
    2012
    Professor Barry Cooper

    2012 is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing - mathematician, Bletchley Park decoding genius, father of computer science, and seminal figure in artificial intelligence and developmental biology. Every stored-program computer today is an embodiment of his 1936 Universal Turing Machine. Turing was specially driven by a need to understand the human brain and mental processes. Involved in building early computers in the 1940s, he is quoted as saying \"I am building a brain\". But Turing\s own investigations, and the later history of artificial intelligence, have led to a much better understanding of the challenges.

  • Tue
    15
    Jan
    2013
    Professor David Torgeson, University of York

    Government routinely introduce massive changes in policy that affect all of our lives usually with very little evidence underpinning the new policy.  In contrast, changes in medical treatments are required, by law, to have rigorous testing using randomised controlled trials.  Randomised controlled trials were first undertaken in social policy, not health care.  In this talk I will discuss examples of randomised trials in public policy and show that they can, and should, be used across policy areas such as: education and crime and justice as well as health care.  By using randomised trials we can save vast amounts of money as well as improving the quality of life of people.

  • Tue
    12
    Feb
    2013
    Professor Steven French, Leeds University

    What kinds of things are scientific theories? Are they like paintings or photographs, in the way they represent the world? Are they created in the same way as works of art? Are they discovered through flashes of insight (the \Eureka moment\)? Was Einstein like Mozart when it came to being creative? Or is the creative process in science different from that in art?

    Prof French will explore answers to these questions in order to shed light on some of the intriguing similarities and differences between art and science; and whether scientific theories are kinds of \things\ to begin with.

  • Tue
    05
    Mar
    2013
    Prof John Bancroft

    The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Laboratory in Cheshire is home to the UK?s most powerful supercomputer, capable of more than a thousand trillion calculations per second (a \"petaflop\"), the equivalent of a million laptops.

    Supercomputers have become essential to the modern world, aiding research and innovation. They will make significant improvements to our ability to predict natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. Their computational power will enable scientists to simulate the most complex systems, such as the Earth\s climate or the human brain, the data from which would overwhelm even the most powerful systems in use today.

    By the year 2020 supercomputers will be thousands of times faster again. What will they be able to do that is beyond today\s supercomputers? What important tasks should they be given?

    Professor John Bancroft, Project Director of the Centre and Head of STFC\s Campus Centre Projects will talk about the supercomputer at STFC and how supercomputers are developing.

  • Tue
    16
    Apr
    2013
    Prof Chris Hammond

    At Leeds University in 1913, William Henry Bragg and his son William Lawrence Bragg, undertook pioneering work and made important breakthroughs in the use of x-rays to determine the atomic structure of crystals.

    They shared the Nobel prize for physics two years later.

    Marking the centenary of the Braggs' discovery at Leeds of the first crystal structures, Chris Hammond will explain their achievements and the significance of their work on x-ray diffraction to crystallography and materials science today.

  • Tue
    07
    May
    2013
    Professor Bruce Yardley (Leeds University)

    Nuclear waste exists in the UK and, as in all democracies, government policy is to seek disposal sites in areas where the local community has volunteered to host it. So far, only West Cumbria has volunteered to host a UK waste site, but in January 2013 Cumbria County Council voted to stop the necessary investigations into possible suitable sites. Is this just a small hiccup in the process of safely disposing of the UK?s nuclear waste? Or were spurious technical arguments used to prop up NiMBYism against the national interest? Are diehard opponents of nuclear power putting us all at risk by preventing safe disposal of existing waste? What should happen next, and where?

  • Mon
    13
    May
    2013
    Professor Ian Hacking (U. of Toronto/Collège de France)

    LEEDS CENTRE FOR MEDICAL HUMANITIES & CENTRE FOR HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE BRITISH SOCIETY FOR THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE

    How was autism shaped from its beginning, as a rare infantile disorder first recognized in the 1940s, to its present much-publicized state in which it is almost regarded as common? How did it come into being and develop as a new way in which to be a person, a way in which to think of oneself, of people one cares about? There are many ways to explain the increasingly common diagnosis with invoking an epidemic as in the media. The lecture will discuss how autism was shaped over the course of a few decades, with an emphasis not on numbers or on social services, but rather on how a new kind of person can come into being in what is (for me) living memory.

  • Tue
    21
    May
    2013
    Nessa Carey

    How can it be that almost all the cells in your body contain exactly the same genes, and yet the various cell types are all completely different? The answer lies in the new science of epigenetics, which answers this and many other questions. From the effects of childhood trauma to the longevity of queen bees, and from why what you've learnt about evolution is only partly correct to how we will develop new cures for cancer, you'll never think of your genes in the same way again.

    Nessa Carey is the author of The Epigenetics Revolution

  • Tue
    18
    Jun
    2013
    Andrew Shepherd

    Changes in the mass of the polar ice sheets are of considerable importance to society, because they affect global sea levels and oceanic conditions. The advent of satellite observations has revolutionised the way that changes in ice-sheet mass are estimated and, since 1998, there have been more than 30 different surveys. Unfortunately, these studies have variously concluded that the polar ice sheets have added 1.9 millimetre per year to sea level rise; and that the ice sheets have reduced sea levels by 0.2 millimetre per year; and points in between. Now (in 2012) the IMBIE** project has produced the first community assessment of ice sheet losses, and the most accurate measurement to date. Prof Shepherd will describe the findings of the IMBIE** project, which he led from Leeds.

    ** IMBIE - Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-Comparison Exercise

  • Tue
    09
    Jul
    2013
    Tim Benton

    The world is changing very fast and people are eating more food and demanding more "expensive to produce" food globally. To what extent can the planet support the growth in demand for food or does something have to give? Can sustainable agriculture produce sufficient food without significant impacts on the natural world? Prof Benton will address a range of issues around food production, consumption, climate change and sustainability

  • Tue
    10
    Sep
    2013
    Professor Fiona Meldrum (Leeds University)

    Synthetic biology uses engineering principles to design and construct new devices and systems based on biological components (bacteria). Applications include the manufacture of biofuels and the development of smart therapeutics. Prof Meldrum and her team are currently competing in the 2013 International Genetic Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition against the world's leading universities. The Leeds iGEM team comprises undergraduate Biochemists, Nanotechnologists, Neurobiologists and Physicists. Their project uses live bacteria as sensors for lethal pathogens in water, with applications for clean water systems in developing countries.

  • Tue
    08
    Oct
    2013
    Professor Tim Birkhead (Sheffield University)

    Most people's notions of what it feels like to be a bird are very limited. Someone once described birds as 'a wing guided by an eye'. Another description was 'a flying machine with good vision'. Prof Birkhead will explain how birds perceive the world, and show how they are much more complex than these limited mechanical descriptions suggest - perhaps even able to experience emotions.

    Professor Birkhead is the author of Bird Sense.

  • Tue
    12
    Nov
    2013
    Professor Liane Benning (Leeds University)

    Life flourishes everywhere on Earth, even in the most extreme environments. Organic signatures suggestive of life are prime targets for NASA's and ESA's 'Search for Life' space missions to Mars and elsewhere. Prof Benning will discuss how we prepare our terrestrial life detection technology to search for life elsewhere.  And she will consider whether Earth's "extremophiles" are good analogues for life elsewhere.

  • Tue
    03
    Dec
    2013
    Dr Elizabeth Bruton (Leeds University)

    2014 will be the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. Dr Bruton will describe how the radio technology of 100 years ago was used in that conflict.

    Upon the outbreak of the war, the British government quickly realised what a valuable and dangerous tool wireless telegraphy could be. They immediately sealed up the transmitters of the limited number of wireless amateurs licensed and operating in Britain. However, this was not the end of the war for wireless amateurs - they established signals intelligence (or SIGINT), "listening in" to German wireless transmissions and locating enemy vessels. They filled the gap while the Marconi Company hastily trained up wireless operators for wartime usage. They also listened out for German spies using wireless to send secret messages, though this may have been more myth than reality.

  • Tue
    21
    Jan
    2014
    Dr Rob Richardson (Leeds University and his research team)

    Dr Richardson is Director of the National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems at Leeds University.  He and his research team will talk about their project to design and build a robot to explore the interior of the Great Pyramid at Giza.  The team will also explain how they use 3D printing in their work.

  • Tue
    04
    Feb
    2014
    Prof Alan Watson (Leeds University )

    The energies of the rarest cosmic rays far surpass the energy of the fastest proton beams at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at CERN. Prof Watson will outline the role of cosmic rays in the development of particle physics and describe the observatory in Argentina, covering an area the size of West Yorkshire, which is used to study particles with kinetic energies comparable to that of a tennis ball hit by Andy Murray. Prof Watson will explain the scientific interest in these particles.

    Professor Alan Watson is a leading expert on cosmic rays, He appeared on Melvyn Bragg's BBC Radio 4 programme "In Our Time" in the episode on cosmic rays.

  • Tue
    11
    Mar
    2014
    Prof Trevor Cox

    Trevor Cox is Professor of Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford. He carries out research on architectural acoustics and audio perception. He was involved in the search for the "worst sounds" to the human ear and debunked the myth that a duck\s quack doesn't echo.

    In his new book "Sonic Wonderland" Prof Cox tells the story of his travels in search of the most amazing sounds in the world. He will play some of those sounds, and will explain how our body reacts to peculiar noises, the exotic and the everyday.

    Trevor Cox has appeared on the BBC Radio 4 science programme "Material World" on several occasions, including as mentor in the "so you want to be a scientist" competition, and has made over a dozen documentaries for the BBC.

  • Tue
    01
    Apr
    2014

    The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) was established in 2006 and is funded through the Department of Health. It supports outstanding individuals working in world-class facilities, conducting leading-edge health research focused on the needs of patients and the public.

    The NIHR is holding a short-film competition (the NIHR New Media competition). NIHR researchers have been invited to create and submit short films about their research, with the aim of informing the public about the methods used, the results of the research and the opportunities it presents for the future.

    The entries to the competition, each about 5 minutes long, will be screened at Cafe Scientifique on Tuesday 1st April. We shall have the opportunity to discuss the films and judge which should be the winner, based on audience scorecards.

  • Tue
    22
    Apr
    2014
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr Susanne Shultz

    Around 25% of primate species (including humans, of course) live in monogamous family groups (compared with only 3% of other mammal species). This compares with monogamy in more than 90% of bird species. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the evolution of monogamy, including its role in protecting females and their offspring from unrelated males.

    Dr Susanne Shultz is a Royal Society research fellow at Manchester University. Her research focuses on the evolution of behavioural complexity, what makes primate sociality distinct from other mammals and why and how humans have been able to develop large complex societies.

    Dr Shultz recently published her work on the evolution of monogamy, which was featured on BBC Radio 4 and reported in the press. This is a controversial area, with alternative hypotheses being published. Dr Shultz will invite a discussion about monogamy in the human race\'s closest relatives as well as within different human cultures.

  • Tue
    20
    May
    2014
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Prof Ruth Gregory

    \"The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible\"

    This quote from Einstein continues to be particularly apt in the context of modern cosmology. Prof Gregory will talk about how we believe we understand the universe we live in, describing it by physical theories that were developed in a very different arena and for different reasons. She will also assess what many people have described as \"Einstein\s biggest blunder\", the cosmological constant; but she will suggest that it seems necessary to explain the astronomical observations we see today.

    Ruth Gregory is professor of physics at Durham University. She conducts research into the operation of gravity over very short distances and multi-dimensional theories of the universe. She has appeared three times on Melvyn Bragg\s BBC Radio 4 programme \"In Our Time\" and has written 4 books on cosmology and relativity.

  • Tue
    17
    Jun
    2014
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr Martin Strangwood (Birmingham University)

    Historically, a wide variety of materials have been used for bicycle frames, wheels and other components. To optimize cycling performance, the structures used must be tailored to the loads they bear without being unnecessarily heavy.

    Just two weeks before the Tour de France begins in Leeds, Dr Martin Strangwood will talk about the forces modern bicycles are exposed to, and how new materials and designs have been developed to accommodate these. He will discuss the innovative materials use for the bikes of the past, the present and the future.

    Dr Strangwood is a materials scientist at Birmingham University, and undertakes research into a range of sports materials.

    (You will have noticed that Yorkshire is Turning Yellow for the Tour de France, so audience members on 17th June are welcome to wear something yellow in support.)

  • Tue
    09
    Sep
    2014
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr David Clancy (Lancaster University)

    Scientists are making breakthroughs in their understanding of what makes animals less vigorous and healthy as they get older. In a recent Guardian column on this research into ageing, George Monbiot feared that the development of therapies could create a new underclass who would serve a new long-lived elite. Read the article.

    Dr David Clancy is a researcher into the biochemical and genetic processes that cause ageing, and is one of the signatories of this letter in response.

    At Leeds Cafe Sci on Sept 9th Dr Clancy will set out the latest research; and will invite a discussion on the ethics of anti-ageing therapies. For those who want to stay young forever, could there be downsides?

  • Tue
    07
    Oct
    2014
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Kersten Hall

    Kersten Hall is visiting fellow in the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science at the University of Leeds. He is the author of 'The Man in the Monkeynut Coat' which explores the life and work of William Astbury, the forgotten man of the search for the double helix, for which Watson and Crick finally took the credit. The book was featured in The Observer and was reviewed in the journal Nature.

    Kersten will highlight the role played by William Astbury in developing X-ray diffraction techniques, and the contribution this made to biological research. Astbury carried out his research at Leeds University between 1928 and 1961, when he effectively pioneered the emergence of the powerful new science of molecular biology.

  • Tue
    04
    Nov
    2014
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Multiple presenters

    2014 Science Slam Poster Screenshot

    5 guest speakers will each give a short talk on a cutting-edge scientific development, or their own scientific theory.

    The 5 speakers and their topics will be:

    Katie Barr - Quantum biology
    Stan Lynch - Junk DNA
    John Pullin - Immortality is forever
    Alasdair Beal - Crop circles
    Richard Smith - When science becomes malignant

    You will be able to put questions to all 5 speakers.

    Drinks in the bar afterwards - tell us which of the theories convinced you the most.

  • Tue
    02
    Dec
    2014
    Seven Arts (31A Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD)
    Prof David Canter (Huddersfield University)

    Biological explanations of the causes of human behaviour, whether from evolution or genetics, are very fashionable. Professor Canter will argue that many of these claims are little better than religious beliefs. Without denying the importance of biology, and from a strongly atheistic viewpoint, he claims that being a person is more than the sum or our organic components.

    David Canter is professor of psychology at Huddersfield University. He was recently involved in a lively debate on BBC Radio 4 (Inside Science) with Professor Alice Roberts on the value of evolutionary explanations for human behaviour, such as co-operation.

  • Tue
    16
    Dec
    2014
    Seven Arts (31A Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD)

    The quiz will have a science theme, but does not require any science qualifications (just a sense of humour). Last year's festive quiz included rounds on the IgNobel Prizes, Time Travel in the Movies and Things You Really Should Remember From School.

    The quiz will be in the Seven Arts bar.  Come as a team, or come by yourself and we'll fix you up with a team.

  • Tue
    13
    Jan
    2015
    Seven Arts (31A Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD)
    Dr George Holmes

    Rewilding is a new (and controversial) wildlife conservation technique.

    We are surrounded by landscapes modified by millennia of human intervention and activities. In recent years, ecologists and conservationists have started to explore how nature can be brought back in, particularly how these landscapes can be "rewilded", so that nature can take its course. Rewilding would mean the removal of local agriculture and the reintroduction of locally extinct species (such as beavers in Scottish rivers and wild cattle in the Netherlands). In some cases, analogue species could be introduced to replicate the role of extinct species, such as a proposal for introducing African elephants to the American plains to replicate the ecological role of woolly mammoths. Rewilding is controversial, not just scientifically but also for its potential impacts on human economies, societies and cultures.

    This talk will explore the science and politics of rewilding, from the rivers of the UK to the proposed Pleistocene Park of Siberia.

  • Tue
    10
    Feb
    2015
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Prof Ian Brooks (Leeds University)

    The climate of the Arctic is changing rapidly; it is warming at twice the global rate. Arctic sea ice is reducing in area and getting thinner . Climate models struggle to reproduce the observed rates of change, in part because we lack understanding of many small-scale meteorological and oceanographic processes in the Arctic. This is due to the difficulty of obtaining measurements in the Arctic environment.

    Prof Ian Brooks has undertaken several measurement campaigns in the Arctic, using both research ships and aircraft, to measure the processes that control the surface energy budget and ice melting / freezing. He will talk about his experiences of the Arctic, its climate, and the physical processes that govern that climate.

  • Tue
    24
    Mar
    2015
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Hugh Hubbard, Katie Barr, Steve Bannister, John Waterhouse & Chris Bem

    5 guest speakers will each give a short (but perfectly formed) presentation on their own scientific theory. You will be able to ask questions and debate with all of them. In one evening, 5 topics, covering different areas of science, will be distilled and delivered in small but powerful measures.

    Speakers and topics:

    Hugh Hubbard - Why the Large Hadron Collider IS responsible for the global financial crash.
    Katie Barr - Quantum computing
    Steve Bannister - Supernovae: the biggest bangs since the Big Bang.
    John Waterhouse - Cosmology: consensus or conspiracy?
    Chris Bem - The Three Sciences: re-framing science for a better world

  • Tue
    21
    Apr
    2015
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Led by Professor Greg Raddick and Associate Professor Bruce Turnbull, both of Leeds University

    Is there anything more important in science than communication?

    Do the BBC and other mainstream media communicate science well? Are the scientific journals and other specialist media really any better? Do scientists need to explain themselves more (and better) to justify public funding? Are scientists good at communication? What makes a science lecture / talk / presentation good? Is the internet helpful, or full of misleading junk science? How can the various forms of science communication be improved?

    The meeting will take the form of an open discussion. Everyone who comes along will be encouraged to participate. The discussion will initially be led by Greg Raddick (Professor of History & Philosophy of Science at Leeds University) and Bruce Turnbull (Associate Professor in the Leeds University School of Chemistry).

    Duncan Dallas, the founder of Cafe Scientifique in 1998, sadly died in April 2014. He was a leading thinker, speaker and writer on science communication. The Science Communication discussion meeting on April 21st is our way of marking the anniversary of Duncan's death.

  • Tue
    19
    May
    2015
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr Trevor Vickey, University of Sheffield

    The most amazing physics experiment of all time, CERN's Large Hadron Collider, has been rebuilt, component-by-component, and the proton beam has now been switched back on. Its energy level is steadily increasing, and it should reach the high energy for which it was designed at some point during May 2015.

    Dr Trevor Vickey is a senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield and works on the ATLAS experiment at CERN. He will talk about what CERN scientists have already achieved and what might be revealed when the Large Hadron Collider is operating at full energy.

  • Tue
    23
    Jun
    2015
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr Christopher Hassall, fellow of the Leeds University School of Biology

    How does an insect evolve to resemble a bit of twig? How do harmless flies come to look like fierce wasps? The power of evolution has given the world plants that look like animals; animals that disappear when they alight on a tree; and other animals that vanish in direct sunlight. Some of these resemblances are very close, whereas others appear only vaguely similar to our eyes.

    Dr Christopher Hassall is a fellow of the Leeds University School of Biology. He undertakes research into the evolution of insects, how species are responding to climate change, and the ecology of wetland habitats. He will talk about the way that plants, insects and other animals have evolved to mimic other species. He will discuss the advantages this gives them, and his research into stronger and weaker resemblances. He will also talk about whether humans have unintentionally driven the evolution of mimicry.

  • Tue
    15
    Sep
    2015
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Professor Ken Carslaw, Leeds University

    The hole in the ozone layer was discovered over the Antarctic in 1985 and is perhaps the most dramatic example of humanity damaging its own environment. Within two years, the cause of the hole was understood and the Montreal protocol was signed to phase out production of the substances responsible for ozone depletion. This international cooperation was a major success for science; but what would have happened if we had not acted?

    Professor Carslaw will give a brief history of the ozone layer, and then talk about the related discovery of 'almost perfect' industrial chemicals, spy aircraft, Nobel prizes and advanced computer simulation.

    There are obvious parallels between the damage to the ozone layer and the threat posed by man-made climate change to the future of life on earth.

    Ken Carslaw is Professor of Atmospheric Science at Leeds University. His work has been adopted by the Met Office for its climate model.

  • Tue
    13
    Oct
    2015
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Andrew Rushby

    Exoplanets are planets which are not part of our solar system, but orbit other stars.

    How and when might life on earth end? The Earth has a finite lifespan, and increasing radiation from the Sun will eventually render it uninhabitable. Over the past two decades, new telescopes and detection techniques have revealed nearly 2,000 planets in the orbit of other stars in the Galaxy, a handful of which may be considered 'Earth-like' or even habitable. How does the Earth compare in terms of its predicted lifespan when compared to these newly-discovered worlds, and why is it important?

    Andrew Rushby has recently completed his doctoral thesis on The Lifespan of Habitable Worlds, and will be taking up a research post at NASA in 2016.

    His research has been reported in the national press:
    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/sep/18/forecast-life-on-earth

  • Tue
    10
    Nov
    2015
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr Paul Beales, Leeds University

    Scientists have known that a chemical contained in the venom of a Brazilian wasp has promising anticancer properties. Now, the latest research has provided significant insights into how the chemical targets cancer cells, by interacting with changes in the structure and composition of cancer cell membrane. This work received significant press coverage:

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/sep/01/wasp-study-sting-leukaemia-prostate-bladder-cancer-cells

    Dr Beales will talk about his research on wasp venom, and the coverage it generated. He will also describe his other research projects that use membranes to develop novel materials, with applications in pharmaceuticals and in making artificial cells.

  • Tue
    08
    Dec
    2015
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Prof Piers Forster (Leeds University)

    The UN Conference on Climate Change is underway in Paris. Will the nations of the world agree plans on carbon emissions designed to limit temperature rise to 2C? Last month the UK Met Office announced that temperatures have already risen above pre-industrial levels by over 1C. Some scientists fear that rises of 4C or more are inevitable. Other voices suggest that a rise of 2C would be good for us.

    What is the Paris conference really about, and what can it realistically achieve?

    What does the conference mean for us in the UK?

    What does it mean for you individually?

    Piers Forster is Professor of Physical Climate Change at Leeds University. He has been an adviser to the government, and was a Lead Author of the IPCC's 2014 report on the progress of climate change and the options for adaptation.

  • Tue
    22
    Dec
    2015
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD

    Test yourself at the annual Christmas Leeds Cafe Sci quiz.

    Do I need a Ph D in quantum physics? No. Scientific qualifications are not necessary. An interest in science is all you need.

    Do I need to come with a team? No - you can turn up and form a team with others, or join a team.

    What sort of questions can I expect? In previous years, there have been rounds on: time travel in the movies; the science of Santa; the IgNobel prizes; space exploration.

  • Tue
    12
    Jan
    2016
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr James Lee, York University

    Many Asian cities are beset by smogs. Although our air is much cleaner, the recent VW diesel engines scandal has highlighted the pollution that we are exposed to in the UK.

    Dr James Lee conducts research on atmospheric pollution at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science in the University of York. He will speak about past and present air pollution in the UK, covering the key air pollutants and their effects on human health. He will also discuss how his research is improving our knowledge of current air pollution issues and how this will lead to future strategies for providing cleaner air.

    Dr Lee's research was recently quoted by the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33970233

  • Tue
    09
    Feb
    2016
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Kevin Watterson, Dr Alan Anthony & Dr Mike Messenger

    The meeting will showcase some of the scientific expertise and leading research being undertaken in the NHS in Leeds. There will be three guest speakers:

    Kevin Wattersonretired chief congenital and adult cardiac surgeon - Clinical Director Dept Cardiac Surgery LGI

    Dr Alan Anthoney, oncologist specialising in gastro-intestinal and neuroendocrine cancers

    Dr Mike Messenger, Deputy Director and Scientific Manager, NIHR Diagnostic Evidence Co-Operative, Leeds

    Kevin Watterson will describe the fundamentals of how open heart surgery is possible and the evolution of children's heart surgery so that it is now possible in premature infants under 2kg.

    Dr Anthoney will explain what cancer is, how it develops and how gastro-intestinal and neuroendocrine cancers are treated. He will also discuss the value of clinical trials.

    Dr Messenger will talk about how NHS care can be personalized by "decoding" our bodies' biological messages. Recent advances have led to the discovery that most diseases can be caused by many different mechanisms, i.e. there is no single cause. This explains why some medicines only work in some patients and can cause harmful side effects or death in others. Precision Medicine may enable us to identify the biological cause of each patient's disease and to select the right treatment for them.

  • Tue
    22
    Mar
    2016
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Six speakers, five minutes each

    This will be Leeds Cafe Scientifique's third Science Slam.  The theme will be "scientific myths".  Six speakers will each speak for 5 minutes about a common scientific misunderstanding.  Myths will be firmly debunked; fallacies will be laid to rest - and all at quickfire pace.

    You will be able to put questions to the speakers, or challenge their treatment of your favourite scientific theory.

    The six speakers and their topics are:

    Miriam Moss - Why a crowd is not a mob

    Bruce Yardley - Soaking up the idea of underground lakes

    Hugh Hubbard - The futility of the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence

    Des McLernon - The most complicated solution is not always the best

    Anzir Boodoo - Rail timetabling: it's not rocket science!

    Alasdair Beal - Why did the World Trade Center's twin towers really collapse?

     

  • Tue
    19
    Apr
    2016
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Natasha Aylett (Leeds University)

    What would happen if the earth was involved in a near-miss with a comet?

    When the comet's dust particles reached our atmosphere they would rapidly heat, melt and evaporate.  The resulting vapours would oxidise to form "meteoric smoke".  A close cometary flyby would inject a huge amount of "smoke" into our atmosphere, significantly affecting the chemical processes we are used to, and potentially altering our climate.

    Tasha Aylett is studying for a PhD at Leeds University.  She will explain her research into how the dust from a comet's tail would affect us.

  • Tue
    17
    May
    2016
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr Mike Evans (Leeds University)

    Mathematical models are important tools for many scientists - most prominently at the moment, those researching our climate and how it is changing. If a model is mathematical, can we safely assume that it is exact and reliable? In fact, many distinct types of mathematical model exist. Dr Mike Evans, lecturer in Applied Mathematics at Leeds University, will discuss some of them, and their value to scientific research.

  • Tue
    28
    Jun
    2016
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr Edward Daw

    In February 2016 the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves emitted from the merger of two black holes.

    Dr Ed Daw is a reader in physics at Sheffield University. His work involves ultra-sensitive apparatus and experiments, eg in the search for dark matter particles. He has worked on the LIGO team, which made the recent discovery of gravitational waves (100 years after Einstein predicted them).

    Dr Daw will speak about the hunt for evidence of gravitational waves and his work on LIGO.

  • Tue
    13
    Sep
    2016
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr Kathleen Richardson (Leicester de Montfort University)

    Are human relationships optional in an age of machines?

    In our digitally connected society, ever more of your ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ are now bots (internet robots). Real robots are set to become your friends and even your sexual partners – what does this mean for our sense of being human? Can humans realistically opt out of relations with other humans?

    Sensitive topics will be discussed as part of this talk.

    Dr Kathleen Richardson is a Senior Research Fellow in the Ethics of Robotics at Leciester de Montort University. She researches the therapeutic use of robots for children with autism spectrum conditions. She is a director of the Campaign Against Sex Robots.

  • Thu
    27
    Oct
    2016
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Professor Jeff Forshaw (Manchester University)

    Universal: A Guide to the Cosmos is the latest book by Professors Jeff Forshaw and Brian Cox. It was published on 22nd September and is described as "an unforgettable journey of scientific exploration". It covers the quest for knowledge of our world and our universe, and how we know what we know about it. It has been described as a book about the scientific method, about cosmology and "about how to think".

    https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/180728/universal/

    Jeff Forshaw is Professor of Particle Physics at Manchester University. Together with Professor Brian Cox he has previously written two highly acclaimed books: Why does E=mc2? (And why should we care?); and The Quantum Universe: Everything That Can Happen Does Happen.

    Professor Forshaw will be talking about Universal, and the science of cosmology (the scientific study of the large scale properties of the universe), including recent theories of "inflation". There will be an opportunity to buy the book at the meeting and to have it signed by the author.

    Note that this meeting is on a THURSDAY.

  • Tue
    22
    Nov
    2016
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Lizzie Fry and colleagues, Leeds University

    Lizzie Fry and some other recent Ecology graduates from the University of Leeds will be sharing their experience of research carried out on a field trip to Laikipia, Kenya earlier this year. As well as some impressive photos, there will be details of the ecological research undertaken, including: the consequences of an elephant's diet; and the mutual dependence of ants and Acacia trees.

  • Tue
    13
    Dec
    2016
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Priya Subramanian, Leeds University

    Patterns (made with tiles) and crystals (made up of atoms or molecules) generally repeat themselves (they are "periodic"), as the pattern on a sheet of graph paper does, and have related symmetries. Among all possible arrangements, these regular arrangements are preferred in nature because they are associated with the least amount of energy required to assemble them. In fact, we’ve only known that non-periodic tiling, which creates never-repeating patterns, can exist in crystals for a couple of decades.

    Priya Subramanian is a research fellow in applied mathematics at Leeds University. She will discuss the mathematics behind the amazing patterns that non-periodic tilings can generate, and the ingredients required to create these beautiful and complex patterns in nature.

    index

    Quasicrystal lattice structure. Find out more here

  • Tue
    20
    Dec
    2016
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD

    The annual Leeds Cafe Sci festive QUIZ will be in the BAR at Seven Arts. There will be a (vague) science theme to it.

    Will it be really hard? No.

    Would a science degree or PhD help? Not much. No qualifications are necessary, though an interest in science would help.

    Will it be like sciences tests at school? No - it's in a bar!

    What sort of questions can I expect? In previous years, there have been rounds on: time travel in the movies; the science of Santa; the IgNobel prizes; space exploration.

    Do I need to come with a team? No - you can turn up and form a team with others, or join a team.

  • Tue
    17
    Jan
    2017
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr Jill Edmondson, Sheffield University

    Soils are fundamental to society, providing vital services including food, fuel, flood mitigation, water purification, regulation of nutrient cycling and stability of the climate. Despite this, conventional agricultural practices have led to widespread soil degradation, resulting in erosion, and loss of soil structure, organic matter, and biodiversity. This degradation has profound implications for global food security and ecosystem service provision. One of the greatest challenges now facing humanity is to improve the sustainability of agriculture and reduce its environmental impact, whilst also meeting the food demands of the growing global population, which now exceeds 7 billion.

    Dr Jill Edmondson is a soil scientist and ecologist at the University of Sheffield. She will discuss the impact of agriculture on soils at a range of scales, from allotment own-grown fruit and vegetable production up to large scale conventional agriculture.

    Jill will also discuss her citizen science project Measure Your Harvest (MYHarvest), which will collect data from own-growers across the UK on fruit and vegetable crop yields. The project will be launched in early 2017.

  • Tue
    21
    Feb
    2017
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD
    Dr Graham Williams, Huddersfield University

    In crime dramas and in real life, criminals try not to leave their DNA at the scene of the crime. How accurate is DNA profiling, and to what extent can it be used on tiny or degraded samples? What are the limitations of DNA profiling, and what are the risks that it can be misapplied?

    Dr Graham Williams will speak about his research on the use of DNA and RNA in forensic investigations. He will discuss possible ways of extending the capabilities of DNA profiling. For example, he will explain how it is possible to differentiate between identical twins, even though they have the same DNA profile.

    Dr Graham Williams heads the Forensic Genetics Research Group at Huddersfield University. His areas of specialism include the use of RNA for body fluid identification; and bloodstain pattern analysis. He also appears as a forensic expert witness in court cases.

  • Tue
    21
    Mar
    2017
    Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PD

    The Science Slam on 21st March will be a mixture of science and comedy. The evening will include a Truth & Lies panel game, and then four stand-up comedy routines, all with a science theme.

    Expect eminent scientists to be funnier than you might have thought.
    Expect mirth from the maths dept, laughter from the laboratory, funny physicists and chuckles from the chemists.

    "That's Funny" is what Alexander Fleming said when he returned to his laboratory after a holiday, to find that one of his bacterial cultures had been stored carelessly.  A strange growth had appeared on it.  Instead of throwing it away, he investigated the "funny" growth, and a few years later he picked up the Nobel prize for the discovery of penicillin.