☰  Cardiff Scientific Society

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Presidential Address: Fishy Science

Prof Robert John
Cardiff University

This talk explores cases in which dubious conclusions have been reached because of failures in the scientific method, either in reasoning or in measurement. Also examined are examples where, although the major findings have stood the test of time, the original evidence seems to have been 'improved'. The talk will also consider a recent claim that at least 5% of the experimental data published in the biomedical scientific literature has been fabricated by the authors.

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From Neutron to Michelangelo - a History of Our Universe So Far

Dr Peter Blake
Cardiff University

This lecture will attempt to trace a possible route from the beginning of our universe some twelve billion years ago to the emergence of the conscious mind and - dare we say it - spiritual human beings. Rapid advances in astronomy, physics, chemistry, earth science, biology and neurology permit an increasingly detailed picture to be drawn.

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Scientific Tradition in Wales

Professor Phil Williams
University of Wales, Aberystwyth

Science is the field of activity where Wales has made a very significant world-class contribution. A list of Welsh scientists includes the pioneers of actuarial science, crystallography, evolutionary theory, radio transmission, astrophotometry, stereochemistry, orthopaedic surgery, physical meteorology and free-radical chemistry. The roots of this tradition lie in early nonconformity, the industrial revolution and the Aberdare Act.

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Estimating the Time of Death

Professor Bernard Knight CBE
University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff

Estimating the time of death is often vital in criminal investigations, though this aspect of forensic pathology is often portrayed with ludicrous accuracy by television scriptwriters and crime novelists. The reality depends on a battery of methods, calling upon many disciplines, including heat physics, biochemistry, entomology, bio-electricity and isotope chemistry in an attempt to improve accuracy. The topic has stimulated more research and publications over the past two centuries than any other issue in forensic medicine.

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Conversion of Energy in the Biological World

Sir John Walker FRS, Nobel Laureate
MRC, Cambridge

The energy to make biological work comes from the sun. It is entrapped by photosynthesis and stored in high energy chemicals (sugars and fats). They are burned (oxidised) in a controlled manner and the energy released is stored in the common energy currency of biology, namely the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Each of us synthesises about 60 kg of ATP each day. The final step in this process is carried out by molecular machines that have a rotary action operating with rotation rates of about 100 times/sec. These biological machines have potential for practical exploitation in the emerging field of nanotechnology.

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Silicones, Their Chemistry and Practical Applications

Dr Richard Taylor
Dow Corning, Barry

This lecture will describe the production and applications of silicones with a wide variety of demonstrations and audience participation. Some aspects of the synthetic chemistry involved in the synthesis and modification of the siloxane bond will be discussed as well as the properties of same.

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Perspectives on the Psychology of Advertising

Professor Fairfid M. Caudle
The College of Staten Island, City University of New York, USA

How do advertisements get you to view products more positively? How do they attract attention and actively involve you as a potential customer? How do they arouse your emotions or play on your insecurities? And, finally, how do some advertisements communicate on several levels simultaneously? While overt messages are easy to understand, covert or symbolic communication is far less obvious. How easily can you be influenced?

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200 Years of Science at the Royal Institution

Professor Richard Catlow
Wolfson Professor of Natural Philosophy, Royal Institution of Great Britain

This lecture will highlight the amazing scientific achievements of the Royal Institution, starting with the work of Davy and Faraday in the nineteenth century; continuing into the twentieth with the work of the Braggs, and into the twenty first with our current programme of solid state and materials chemistry. It will be shown that many of the most important and significant scientific fields, ranging from electromagnetism to molecular biology, owe their origins to discoveries made within the Institution.

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Topical Issues Relating to the Food Standards Agency

Professor Sir John Krebs FRS
Food Standards Agency

The Food Standards Agency was set up in April 2000, to meet the concerns of consumers about the way food safety decisions are taken. The Food Standards Agency has the responsibility to ensure that the interests of consumers are put first in the development of food policy and regulation. One of the main concerns was the discovery in 1996 of a new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in people. Many experts now agree that the most likely cause of vCJD was exposure to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle as a result of eating meat.

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Investigating the Paranormal: A Sceptical Perspective

Dr Richard Wiseman
Perrott Warrick Research Unit, University of Hertfordshire and Member of the Magic Circle

For the past 10 years Dr Richard Wiseman has investigated a wider range of seemingly paranormal phenomena, including psychics, seances, a world famous telepathic dog and the 'ghosts' of Hampton Court Palace and Edinburgh Castle. In this talk he will outline his findings and explain the real secrets behind these apparently impossible phenomena.

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The Battle of the Sexes: a Struggle for the Male

Professor leuan Hughes
University of Cambridge

The nature of the sex chromosomes at fertilisation in mammals classically determines the sex of the fetus at birth. Yet the pathway to that end-point in males is tortuous and reliant on a hierarchical interplay of coordinated genetic and hormonal factors. How males and females develop is now better understood from studies in human intersex conditions and transgenic mouse models. There is now a further struggle to maintain masculinity after birth with the advent of a polluted environment harmful to male reproductive health.

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Buildings in the 21st Century

Professor Susan Roaf
Oxford Brookes University

We are entering a new age when the driving forces we took for granted in the 20th century have radically changed. Key issues that will shape our landscapes over the next decades will be climate change and the depletion of the fossil fuels that have shaped our economy. This lecture looks at the ways in which these issues will affect our understanding of what constitutes good architecture and how these changes in perception are changing the way in which we live our everyday lives.