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Henley on Thames Hockey Club
Reading Rd
Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG9 4HE
Doors open 7.30; cafe 8 to 10pm


Admission free but PLEASE register by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  - we can get very full!

Directions at www.henleyhockeyclub.co.uk/directions.php

Henley Cafe Sci welcomes the sponsorship of Quintessa


David Dickie
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Judith Phelan
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Wednesday 19th June 2019

Weather balloon measurements of the atmosphere: past, present and future

Graeme Marlton


Since the late eighteenth century, scientists have been yearning to measure the atmosphere above them. The first pioneers put their lives at risk making measurements from hydrogen-filled balloons. Nowadays, the process is much safer; thousands of weather balloons take up sensor packages called radiosondes, small smartphone-sized instruments packages which send the information back to base over a radio link.


Graeme will give a brief history of weather balloons, talk about the exciting research that is being conducted with them at the University of Reading and show what the future has in store.


Dr Graeme Marlton is from the Department of Meteorology, University of Reading.



Recent speakers   

Henley on Thames Cafe Scientifique celebrates its 75th cafe!


Wednesday 15th May 2019

Fungi: that other kingdom

Richard Fortey


The fungi comprise a kingdom as diverse as animals and plants, are vital in the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems and sensitive environmental indicators, yet are comparatively neglected. 


We still only know a fraction of their biodiversity. Although fungi are often portrayed in a negative way, their contribution to relationships, such as mycorrhiza, makes them central to the survival of plants and to human welfare.



Wednesday 17th April 2019



ALBATROSS, a film by artist Chris Jordan, is a powerfully moving work of love for the natural world.


On a remote atoll in the North Pacific Ocean, albatross chicks are dying, their bodies filled with plastic. ALBATROSS unflinchingly shows the horror and grief of this tragedy, but ultimately brings us to a deeply felt experience of beauty and love for life on Earth. Stepping outside traditional documentary film style, ALBATROSS delivers a profound message of reverence and renewal.



Wednesday 20th March

Dentistry – revolution or evolution?

Edward Hems


Is dentistry undergoing a revolution or is it purely evolution? Traditional techniques and careers are being challenged by so-called 'disruptive technologies'. Dentistry is not immune: we will explore some of the new digital technologies that are revolutionising dentistry, including 3D scanning that eliminates the need for those dreaded impressions



Wednesday 13th February 2019

Space Traffic Control

Stuart Eves


Whether we realise it or not, we now depend significantly on the satellites that orbit our planet. A number of hazards threaten our continued access to these valuable assets, including eruptions on the sun and the thousands of pieces of space junk that we've launched since 1957. Stuart will discuss what Space Traffic Control is and why it is so important.



Wednesday 16th January 2019 

One Body , One Life!

Andrew Green


Are you always stressed, constantly busy, prioritising others over yourself? Do you feel that time is slipping by and your health is not what it was? Do you recognise what is “good” and what is “bad” for your health? The solution: assess where you are now and then follow a series of easy, sustainable, changes that you can stick to, get the balance right, and reclaim your health. You only have One Body and One Life! Don’t Screw it Up! 



Wednesday 12th December

Reinventing the wheel 

Bronwen Percival and Francis Percival


In little more than a century, industrial mindsets have altered every aspect of the cheesemaking process, from the bodies of the animals that provide the milk, to the microbial strains that ferment it, to the methods used to make the cheese. What has been lost as raw-milk, single-farm cheeses have given way to homogeneous factory production?


Bronwen and Francis will discuss how scientists—and the most enterprising cheesemakers—have begun to explore the cheesemaking techniques of their great grandparents. Taking advantage of the latest high-throughput molecular methods, researchers have begun to challenge conventional wisdom about the role of microbes in every part of the world around us, and to reveal the resilience and complexity of the indigenous microbial consortia that contribute to the flavour and safety of cheese. Bit by bit, one experiment at a time, these dynamic communities of researchers and cheesefarmers are reinventing the wheel.



Wednesday 14th November 2018 

Tackling the silent killer on our streets

Suzanne Bartington


Ambient air pollution is harmful to human health from before birth to old age, contributing to approximately 34,000 early deaths in the UK each year. Improving air quality requires an interdisciplinary research approach to identify the most effective intervention measures which optimise health benefits. Suzanne will consider the contemporary challenge of air pollution including action we can all take to reduce toxic emissions.



Wednesday 17th October 2018

The strange origin of the sweet apple

Barrie Juniper

Barrie Juniper is Reader Emeritus in Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford, Emeritus of St Catherine's College, Oxford



Wednesday 19th September 2018

Understanding the failure of high performance structural materials through the medium of biscuits

Finn Giuliani


High-strength low-weight materials require continued improvement to allow progress in industries such as aerospace, transport and power generation. Finn will discuss how we understand and measure the failure of these materials using high resolution imaging techniques, and how this can be used to design better materials in the future.



Wednesday 18th July 2018

Plant sciences research for 21st-century challenges

Jane Langdale


Population increases and climate change demand a rethink of the ways in which we produce our food. Jane will discuss why we need new approaches, what types of crops are needed, and how research in plant sciences can provide solutions.


Jane Langdale is from the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford



Wednesday 20th June 2018

Neonicotinoids and bees

Ben Woodcock


Neonicotinoids are one of the most widely used pesticides in the world. However, their frequent use on flowering crops (such as oilseed rape) has raised concerns over risks to honeybees and wild bees, as the chemical is often found in the pollen and nectar of crops that they feed on. While many studies have identified negative effects on honeybees and wild bees, they have often been criticised for not reflecting what we see under normal agricultural conditions. Ben will discuss the findings of the largest study undertaken under ‘real world’ conditions to assess the effects  of neonicotinoids on bees and the implications of the use of these pesticides in the UK and Europe. 


Ben Woodcock is from the Centre for  Ecology & Hydrology, Wallingford.



Wednesday 25th April 

The viruses of blood-feeding insects and ticks

Anthony Wilson


Anthony will discuss the biology of blood-feeding insects and ticks, how this affects the spread of the viruses they transmit and the likelihood that strategies for their control will succeed.



Wednesday 21st March 2018

Illuminating the brain in sickness and in health 

Gemma Bale


How can you monitor the brain using light? Gemma will demonstrate by measuring the brain activity of someone in the audience! and discuss her group's results from monitoring brain health in new-borns with brain injury.



Wednesday 14th February 2018

String theory - then and now

Joseph Conlon


Is string theory bullshit or the one true theory? Joseph will describe string theory and the many evolutions it has taken since it was first formulated fifty years ago. Why do so many people work on a topic without direct empirical support? 



Wednesday 17th January 2018 

A slippery situation: melting ice in the polar regions

Sammie Buzzard


The media are full of reports of changes to the polar regions, from trillion-tonne icebergs breaking away in Antarctica, to melting sea ice. How much do we know about these changes and how worried should we be?  Will they affect us? 



Wednesday 6th December 2017


Pat Morris


Hedgehogs: how far can they travel, where do they go, how long do they live and what are the current concerns about their apparent decline? Do they have fleas, how many are rescued each year and taken to animal hospitals and what happens to them after being released back into the wild? And do hedgehogs make good pets?



Wednesday 15th November 2017

Joint replacement technology

Steven Cutts


Steven will discuss the ins and outs of joint replacement surgeries and technology, including what is described as "the metal on metal fiasco", hip resurfacing, ceramic joints, oxinium, and other materials.  Are any of the new materials and ideas actually working? This is an area which merges medicine, material science, immunology and engineering. It's a complex problem, and one which affects many families.



Wednesday 18th October 2017

Built on Bones

Brenna Hassett


The analysis of teeth and bones from the urban past allows us track changes in the ways we have lived. Brenna will discuss data from the pyramids of Egypt, central Turkey, the Greek islands, northern Thailand and ancient Mesopotamia. 



Wednesday 13th September 2017

The wood for the trees

Richard Fortey


Even a small wood can tell the wider story of ever-changing British landscapes, of human influence on the countryside over many centuries and of the vital interactions among flowers, fauna and fungi. 



Wednesday 12th July

Mechanisms of volcanic activity

Hazel Rymer


Hazel has developed and championed the use of microgravity as a tool for monitoring active volcanoes. This technique is now the standrad method for meeting this important challenge and remains the only way to quantify the sub-surface mass changes that occur before, during and after eruptions.



Wednesday 7th June 2017

The 100,000 Genome Project

Jen Whitfield & Jude Craft


The 100,000 Genomes Project -- the largest national sequencing project of its kind in the world -- aims to sequence the genomes of approximately 70,000 NHS patients living with rare diseases and cancer.  Its goal is to create a new genomic medicine service in the NHS, transforming patient care and enabling research into the causes and treatment of genetic disease. For some patients, this will mean they can receive a genetic diagnosis, where that wasn't previously possible; for others, particularly cancer patients, there is the potential for new personalised treatments.



Wednesday 10th May 2017

Garden planning for climate change

Michael Keith-Lucas


Looking at the evidence for climate change in Britain, Michael will consider what we should plant for the future and what we should not, both in our gardens and in agriculture, and how this might affect wild plants and not least, humans.



Wednesday 5th April 2017


John Sumpter


John Sumpter's research group focusses on the effects on fish of chemicals in the aquatic environment. John was responsible for the uncovering of endocrine disruption in fish caused by effluents from sewage treatment works. The group also looks at the impact of other human pharmaceuticals in rivers, such as beta-blockers, steroid hormones and anti-cancer drugs. 



Wednesday 1st March 2017

Frontiers in physics; nano and beyond

Philip Moriarty


There is no doubt that quantum physics embodies mind-blowing concepts that force us to question the very nature of reality. If there is a current contender for best ‘theory of everything’ then Quantum Mechanics wins hands down. 



Wednesday 1st February 2017

What we cannot know


DSC 7527Café Scientifique Henley celebrated its 50th event in style at Gillotts School on Wednesday 1st February, with special guest Marcus du Sautoy , an ex-Gillotts School pupil who lived in Church Street and also went to Trinity School before going on to become Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University and now a Fellow of the Royal Society. A regular on both radio and television, he was warmly welcomed by the Head Teacher, Catherine Darnton, before he discussed his latest book What We Cannot Know, leading the audience on a thought-provoking expedition to the edges of modern science to see if there’s anything we truly cannot understand. Being an Arsenal supporter gave him an everyday example of things that cannot be explained but he still has faith in them winning the Premiership one day! More seriously, he spent time investigating the randomness of casino dice, of the uncertain depletion of uranium and displaying his array of amusing but educational toys. His interesting and entertaining talk gave everyone an evening to be treasured. 

(Image (c) Dave Murray 2017)



Wednesday 7th December 2016

The role of the natural environment in future cities

Ian Dickie

Economics for the Environment Consultancy


Ian is one of three directors of the specialist consultancy, eftec, which works to identify, value and interpret how changes to the environment affect people. He first worked on the value of the natural environment for human health as an economist at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in 2004, and has since applied the growing evidence on the importance of green space in cities in a number of studies for the UK Government and European Commission. The natural environment is increasingly seen as a cost for urban authorities and developers, but should instead be regarded as a valuable asset, central to making future cities economically productive and desirable places to live.



Wednesday 16th November 2016

Animal dynamics

Adrian Thomas


Adrian founded the Oxford Animal Flight Group in 1996. His research focusses on the aerodynamics and control of flying animals, trying to understand how animals (particularly insects) generate so much lift from such small wings and how they manage to cope with the high levels of turbulence in the cluttered environments they exploit. Recently that work has begun to be exploited in the design of bio-inspired vehicles by his Oxford University spinoff company, Animal Dynamics.



Wednesday 19th October 2016

Simulating the performance of products using engineering software tools 

David Reid


Formula 1 cars need to be strong & stiff enough to perform properly and durable enough to last the race, but they also have to be light enough to be competitive when accelerating and cornering. David Reid, from the SIMULIA division, Dassault Systèmes works with companies across multiple industrial sectors, helping them to assess the performance of their products, long before they have been manufactured and even before a physical prototype has been made. 



Wednesday 14th September 2016

Understanding and coping with pain

Tim Salomons


How does ongoing pain, or a reduction in ongoing pain, change the brain? Why are some people able to cope with pain whilst others are unable to maintain normal functions? Our cognitive and biological mechanisms can make pain noticeable and individual differences in these mechanisms might underlie differences in how people cope and respond to treatment.



Wednesday 15th June 2016

The singular origin of complex life

Nick Lane

All complex life on Earth shares a common ancestor that arose just once in four billion years of evolution. That common ancestor had a large number of complex traits, from the nucleus to sex, none of which is known in bacteria. Nick argues that the common ancestor of complex life was a chimeric cell, in which a simple host cell engulfed a bacterium, the ancestor of mitochondria. This endosymbiosis changed the basic architecture of cells, ultimately giving them orders of magnitude more energy per gene. He will discuss the singularity of complex life: why mitochondria enabled the evolution of enormous genomic complexity, while simultaneously forcing the evolution of so many curious traits.



Wednesday 11th May 2016 

The Origin of our Species

Chris Stringer

Human evolution can be divided into two main phases: a pre-human phase, in Africa, more than two million years ago, where walking upright had evolved but many other characteristics were still essentially ape-like; and a later human phase, when both brain size and behavioural complexity increased, and there was a major expansion of the population out of Africa. 

The evidence points strongly to Africa as the major centre for the genetic, physical and behavioural origins of both ancient and modern humans, but new discoveries are prompting a rethink of some aspects of our evolutionary origins, including the likelihood of interbreeding between archaic (for example the Neanderthals) and modern humans.

Wednesday 13th April 2016

The phenology of butterflies and moths

Marc Botham


Butterflies and moths are amongst some of the most well-studied creatures in the UK. Over the past 40 years, butterfly population trends have been used in conservation management and as biodiversity indicators. As cold-blooded organisms, butterflies show strong responses to changes in temperature and the effects of climate change. Flight periods are no exception, with some species now being on the wing more than three weeks earlier than in the past. 



Wednesday 16th March 2016

Social class in the twenty-first century

Mike Savage

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What kind of social class divisions exist today? Mike will discuss how the old world, in which we used to distinguish between middle and working class, is changing rapidly, and that today we are seeing a much smaller wealthy elite class pulling away from the majority of people in the middle layers of the class system. He will discuss some of the worrying features of this trend, including growing age and generational divisions, intensifying geographical divisions, and the role of élite universities (notably Oxbridge and the colleges of the University of London) in reinforcing social inequalities.



Wednesday 17th February 2016

Towards a therapy for retinal disease

Jörn Lakowski, Fight for Sight Investigator


Jörnwill reveal some of the approaches being investigated to develop treatments for retinal dystrophies, focussing on cell therapy. He will describe both the current state of the art in stem cell systems and how they can be harnessed to produce donor cells for therapy. Jörn will discuss some examples of disease modelling, such as for drug screening and some of the non-scientific challenges to progress in this field.


Wednesday 20th January 2016

Erupting volcanoes of the East African Rift

Geoff Wadge


The East African Rift is caused by the Earth’s crust pulling apart. As it does so, hot, deep rocks are drawn upwards and tend to melt, producing magma that powers volcanism along the Rift. This volcanism is distinctive, with some unusual characteristics. Geoff will discuss three volcanoes that have erupted in recent years: Dabbahu in Ethiopia, Oldoinyo Lengai in Tanzania and Nyamuragira/Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and ask: could it happen in the UK?



Wednesday December 9th 2015

Precipitation, snow and hazardous weather 

Anthony Illingworth, Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Physics at Reading University


Can we improve forecasts of hazardous weather - such as heavy rain that may cause flash floods, snow likely to disrupt traffic and strong winds that will bring down trees and block transport routes? How are the present forecasts produced? Will the new satellites to be launched in the next few years help to produce more specific detailed warnings? Finally we consider if severe weather events are becoming more frequent and if we will get snow for Christmas.



Wednesday 11th November 2015

The perfect meal : the multisensory science of food and dining

Charles Spence, Experimental Psychologist, Oxford University

The author of The Perfect Meal examines the elements (taste,vision,hearing,touch and smell) that contribute to the diner’s experience of a meal (primarily at a restaurant) and investigate how each of the diner’s senses contributes to their overall multisensory experience.Driven by well known chefs such as Blumenthal and Carluccio, as well as young modernist chefs including molecular mixologists, novel approaches are needed to understand the diner’s experience in the restaurant setting from the perspectives of neuroscience, marketing, design, and psychology.



Wednesday October 14th 2015

Fusion power: safe, clean and inexhaustible?

Alan Costley


Fusion power – the power source that drives the sun and the stars – has the potential to solve all our energy needs for thousands of years, with minimal environmental impact. Thousands of scientists and engineers in many countries are working to realise it. In the process, they are building and using extraordinary machines that achieve conditions that stretch the imagination to the limit; for example, temperatures of 100 million degrees.


Wednesday September 23rd 2015

Air pollution

Andrew Grieve

Senior Analyst, Kings College,London




Wednesday 17th June 2015 

CO2: saint or sinner?

Neil Downie


Carbon dioxide absorbs and reflects infra-red radiation, so it may be responsible for all the climate change we see today. An carbon dioxide levels ares increasing. But maybe it isn't a died-in-the-wool villain; maybe it's just misunderstood. You can use it for good too: with it, you can grow plants more quickly, sort out alkaline waste water or freeze hamburgers.  You can even make ice cream with it!



Wednesday 20th May 2015

Ancient trees

Helen Read


Britain is reported to be the most important country in northern Europe for ancient trees.  What are they?  Why are they important?  What is the future for these trees?  The Ancient Tree Forum aims to stop all avoidable loss of ancient trees but there is still a lot we don’t know about them; and in the mean time, they are mismanaged and felled due to lack of protection


Wednesday 15th April 2015

Exploring the realm of the giants

Leigh Fletcher


Beyond the orbit of Mars, in the realm where water ice dominated the building blocks of our solar system, four enormous balls of hydrogen-helium gas coalesced from the proto-solar nebula. The four giant planets, grouped as the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn and the ice giants Uranus and Neptune, exhibit startling diversity in their environmental conditions and climate, despite the similarities in their origins. They serve as perfect templates for giant worlds being discovered around other stars, from the coldest ice giants to the hottest of exo-Jupiters.  Given their great distance, missions to the giant planets are ambitious, complex and rare undertakings but our initial survey of the realm of the giants is complete and we’re beginning a detailed reconnaissance of these distant worlds.



Wednesday 18th March 2015 

The plight of the bumblebee

Richard Comont


Bumblebees are icons of the British summer but they're in trouble. Two of Britain's 27 bumblebee species became extinct during the twentieth century; several more are thought to be on the brink, prompting the establishment in 2006 of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Often eclipsed by their domesticated cousin, the honeybee, bumblebees are misunderstood and under-studied but fascinating creatures.



Wednesday 18th February 2015

Graphene and its 2D friends: 2D Materials in future technology

Jamie H. Warner, Department of Materials, Oxford University



Wednesday 14th January 2015

Viruses fight back

Ben Neuman

University of Reading



Wednesday 3rd December 2014

The construction of Dorney Lake 

Moira Hankinson

Dorney Lake was constructed as the venue for the 2012 Olympic rowing and canoeing events. This 2.4km. long lake, with a return lane, is substantially wider than the adjacent River Thames and is surrounded by new parkland and nature reserves created after ten years of gravel extraction. Although the project, with its large boathouse, finish tower, car parking and roads is in the Green Belt and was refused permission by the planning authority, the Rowing Lake won the 2009 RTPI National Planning Award for Arts, Culture and Sport. 



Wednesday 12th November 2014

Alexander Parkes and the early days of plastics

Susan Mossman

Plastics are largely thought to be a twentieth-century phenomenon. However they have their roots in the nineteenth century – a time of enormous creativity and innovation in the field of new materials.


The story of Alexander Parkes, Parkesine, Celluloid and the birth of the plastics industry is a story with many twists and turns. The early pioneers had many setbacks and it was their successors who were to reap the financial rewards of the development of a global plastics industry. 




Wednesday 15th October 2014

Cosmic Quest - from Babylon to the Big Bang

Heather Couper and Nigel Henbest

Our glorious night sky is the ultimate landscape. But where do we fit in?


For thousands of years humankind has sought to find our place in the cosmos. Starting with superstition, astronomy has flourished, to become the most all-embracing of the sciences. Its progress has been led by inspirational characters – and outright mavericks! - who have pushed our knowledge of the heavens forward, forever testing the limits of our imagination in the quest to understand the Universe.



Wednesday 17th September 2014

Extreme weather and climate change

Ray Bell, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading


What role does climate change play in the recent extreme weather in the UK and in other parts of the world? Coastal flooding and heavy rain this winter caused an estimated £1bn worth of damage. Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, which was one of the strongest cyclones every observed, killed at least 6,300 people in the Philippines. How might extreme weather change in the future?



Wednesday 16th July 2014

Solar Max: what the Sun is doing and why we should care

Lucie Green

Solar Research Fellow, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London

Lucie will focus on the solar cycle, especially on where we are today, with references to sunspots, solar eruptions and magnetic bubbles.



Wednesday 18th June 2014

Ecology of ladybirds in Britain

Helen Roy

Head of Zoology, Biological Records Centre, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology



Tens of thousands of people have contributed to the UK Ladybird Survey, which has records dating back to the 1800s. Working together, volunteers and organisers of the UK Ladybird Survey have unravelled many aspects of the ecology of ladybirds in Britain. However, there there is still much to discover …



Wednesday 21st May 2014

Friends in low places!

Glenn Gibson


This cafe will offer an overview of the trillions and trillions of bacteria that inhabit the human gut. Glenn will describe who the bugs are, where they come from, how many there are inside the human body and how they handle our daily diet. He'll describe the critical role of gut bacteria in promoting better health and suggest how our diet can help sustain them. He'll also discuss the probiotics and prebiotics and their ability to alter the composition of gut bugs.



Wednesday 9th April 2014

Bubbles:  the bath and beyond

Helen Czerski


Bubbles in liquids are a fascinating and important part of our everyday world, but we still associate them mostly with having baths.  What do bubbles do and why are they important?  It’s not all obvious - snails blow bubbles, penguins use them to go faster and there is a precise technical reason why bubbles are a champagne connoisseur's best friend.   My research is on bubbles formed by breaking waves in the ocean, and I’ll also talk about how we study bubbles in the ocean, and the difference that they make to weather and climate. 



Wednesday 12th March 2014

The viruses in all of us

Michael Tristem


Did you know that all human genomes contain tens of thousands of viruses? Michael will describe some of his work into the oldest and newest viruses in our DNA and discuss a virus he and his colleagues identified which may have been the ancient origin of HIV. The timescales of paleovirology are enormous. This old virus first infected an ancestral mammal in the early Cretaceous period, some 130 million years ago, and even the newest viruses, some of which may cause certain cancers in humans, are several hundred thousand years old.



Wednesday 19th February 2014

Inertial confinement fusion – a route to limitless energy from sea-water?

Tim Goldsack


Fusion offers a way to generate electricity from seawater. It avoids many of the drawbacks of fission reactors but presents immense technical challenges. Tim will look at the physics of inertial confinement fusion and the exciting progress being made towards demonstrating it in the laboratory, particularly in the multi-billion dollar National Ignition Facility in the USA.



Wednesday 22nd January 2014

Light and the body clock

Stuart Peirson


All life on Earth has evolved under a 24-hour cycle of light and darkness. As a result, virtually all organisms possess an internal ‘circadian’ clock that determines when to be active and when to sleep. What is the basis of these 24-hour rhythms and how do they regulate such a wide range of processes throughout the body? Moreover, how does light set this clock to the correct time and what are the consequences when the process goes wrong?



Wednesday 4th December 2013

Good food for everyone forever

Colin Tudge


Everyone who is ever likely to be born on to this planet could be fed to the highest standards of nutrition and gastronomy, without cruelty or destroying our fellow creatures. By 2050 we will need to feed 9.5 billion people, which is as big as the world population is ever likely to get.



Wednesday 16th October

James Sowerby and the origin of meteorites

Paul Henderson

Professor of Mineralogy, University College London



James Sowerby was a remarkable natural historian during the Enlightenment: a fine artist, botanist, zoologist and even mineralogist. What special role did he play at the start of the proper scientific study of meteorites and their origins? And what have we learned, and are still learning, about meteorites and their impacts since then?


Wednesday 18th September 2013

Artificial Intelligence

Chris Glasow


Chris will look at the origins of AI, the development of software and electronics giving the first glimpse of how AI could be implemented and finally discuss where AI is now, as it has developed hand in hand with the rapid increase in processor speeds.



Wednesday 5th June 2013

The ageing brain

Paul Bolam


"I’ve known her for fifteen years and her name has completely slipped my mind."  

Structural changes in our brain probably underlie such experiences. Like any organ or part of our body, the brain ages.  This is healthy, normal, ageing and of course, if we use the brain, keep active and eat properly, we can minimise these effects.  However, like any organ, there are many disorders of the brain in which the risk factor is age. These include Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and Parkinson’s disease: all are associated with the death of specific types of brain cells.  Although we cannot stop the death of the brain cells, in one case, Parkinson’s disease, we have a success story in terms of treatment. 




Thursday 2nd May 2013

Stem cells and the promise of regenerative medicine

Paul J Fairchild


If newspaper headlines were to be believed, stem cells promised treatments for a plethora of common ailments and diseases and yet, more than ten years after the first derivation of human embryonic stem cells, their impact on clinical medicine has yet to be realised.  Furthermore, the use of stem cells has created an ethical quagmire that threatens to eclipse the legitimate benefits they may bring.  So are we on the cusp of a revolution in medicine or is all the hype unjustified?  Paul will attempt to delve beneath the rhetoric to distinguish fact from fiction and provide a realistic assessment of the future impact of stem cell biology on regenerative medicine.



Wednesday 17th April 2013

Galaxy Zoo

Chris Lintott


What can 500,000 scientists tell us about the past, present and future?

More than half a million people have logged on to Galaxy Zoo and classified galaxies, helping astronomers piece together the history of the Universe. The project's principal investigator, Chris Lintott, will explain what their results tell us about the Milky Way's past, the present day Universe around us and its ultimate fate.



Wednesday 13th March 2013

Organic food and farming: global saviour or a case of the emperor’s new clothes?

David Hughes


How can the world’s farmers possibly produce enough food to satisfy the appetite of the ballooning global population, while not devastating the environment in the process? Many people believe that the best answer is to reject modern farming technologies and revert to more traditional approaches such as organic farming. David will critically examine the scientific evidence for these beliefs in the context of plotting the optimum course for the future of arable agriculture.



Wednesday 13th February 2013

Survivors - animals and plants that time has left behind

Richard Fortey


Evolution does not move ever onwards. Scattered around the world there are "living fossils" that preserve thei