☰  Cardiff Scientific Society

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Microwave Magic

Dr Peter Barham
University of Bristol

In this series of amusing demonstrations, most of which you can repeat at home, you will learn all about the way microwaves heat food and why food cooked in a microwave is generally less flavoursome. You will also discover many other uses for microwave ovens!

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Cod Liver Oil - How Can It Be Good for You?

Professor John Harwood
Cardiff University

The first report of the health benefits of cod liver oil dates from the 18th century. Since that time, there have been various anecdotal tales of its beneficial properties. Of course, the oil will also be (unfortunately!?) familiar to many who took it after the Second World War as a source of vitamins. In the last decade, there have been a number of dietary intervention trials as well as animal feeding studies which have shown positive effects. The main active ingredients in cod liver and other fish oils are omega-3 fats which are anti-inflammatory. So far, there is clear evidence of benefit during brain development, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and in the ageing brain (Alzheimers etc.). Here in Cardiff, we have looked at the molecular mechanisms which underlie these effects. So Granny was right after all, but why couldn't it taste better?

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London Pollutant Smogs: Why do they Kill?

Professor Roy Richards
Cardiff University

Every so often a combination of weather conditions and man- made pollutants result in an increase in mortality in our big cities. Over 4000 excess deaths were associated with one episode in London in 1952. Who died, how did they die, what was in the mixture to cause death? Could it happen again? These questions will be addressed by examining the physicochemical properties of past and present day smogs and their biological reactions relating to health effects.

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The Lord Phillips Memorial Lecture: Molecular Horticulture - Will it Grow in the Future?

Professor T. Michael Wilson
University of Warwick

The range of horticultural species that collectively enrich and fortify our diet, brighten our homes and gardens, improve our mood and our (sub-)urban spaces is enormous In recent years, applications of "-omic" technologies have provided scientisits with rapidly expanding knowledge, and greater appreciation and understanding of the genetic diversity and molecular functioning of these crops. Genomics also reveal the complex molecular inteactions between host plants and the myriad pests and pathogens which evolve relentlessly, to expoit them as sources of food, thus denying mankind their full value. Can the wider application of modern "molecular horticulture" address future roblems of global climate change/instability, water shortage, pest and disease control in such a wide array of minor-use crops? And who would fund such research and development in a highly fragmented industry?

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101 Uses of a Quadratic Equation

Professor Chris Budd
University of Bath/Royal Institution

In answer to the debate about whether we should teach the quadratic equation to young people. I will show the significant role that the quadratic equation played in human history, from windows to aeroplanes and from rugby to chaos. The talk will have a series of practical demonstrations and the mathematics will be kept light.

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From Gene Discovery to Clinical Trial

Professor Julian Sampson
Cardiff University

The human genome project has led to the discovery of many genes that, when altered (mutated), lead to disease. New opportunities to understand and treat diseases are being identified through gene discovery. This talk will illustrate the progress that is being made through examples from local medical genetic research.

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Describing the Undescribed: Towards a Biodiversity Agenda

Dr Graham Oliver
National Museums & Galleries of Wales, Cardiff

The speaker will review the National Museum of Wales' contribution towards compiling a Biodiversity inventory and the challenges of describing species new to science, drawing on both national and international examples.

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Disabled and Able-bodied Paddlers: an Inclusive Sea Kayak Expedition from Vancouver to Juneau (Alaska)

Mr Adrian Disney
United World College of the Atlantic, Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan

Nine sea kayakers, including two paraplegics, tackle the 1100 mile journey from Vancouver to Juneau in Alasaka with the aim of developing and documenting equipment and procedures that will allow disabled people to participate as effective members of adventurous expeditions. Supported by the Neville Shulman Challenge Award (granted by the Royal Geographical Society) the team made the first completed ten week trip along British Columbia's and Alsaka's wilderness Inside Passage; a historic route connecting the Northern USA to the very productive fishing waters of the North.

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Recombinant Antibodies and the Diagnosis of Veterinary Diseases

Professor Garry Whitelam
University of Leicester

Antibodies are used very widely for the diagnosis and therapy of an array of human and veterinary disorders, including infectious diseases and cancer. Developments in recombinant DNA technology have led to new ways of producing antibodies that may be better suited for clinical applications. This talk will illustrate some recent developments in the use of conventional and recombinant antibodies for the diagnosis of a range of veterinary diseases.

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Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate, a Coupled System

Professor John Pyle
Cambridge University

It is now apparent that many global change issues are interconnected. Changes in composition (e.g. the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer) can have an impact on climate, while climate change can influence the processes (e.g., chemistry, transport and emissions) which control atmospheric composition. I will consider these interactions and feedback processes, using examples which include the stratospheric ozone layer, the oxidizing capacity the of the troposphere and air quality.

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Life, Death and the Tomato

Professor T. George Truscott
Keele University

Tomatoes originated in the South American Andes where they were thought to confer both health and aphrodisiac benefits. The pigment which gives the tomato its red colour is lycopene and this colourant is a member of a large family of naturally occurring pigments- the carotenoids- arising in fruits, vegetables, fish and birds, from tomatoes, oranges and carrots to the lobster and flamingos. Lycopene is known to accumulate in the prostate, breast, and skin but not in the eyes. However, evidence suggests benefits not only against prostate and breast cancer but also against age-related muscular degeneration. Furthermore, intervention trials suggest that carotenoids, including lycopene, can have deleterious effects and dietary supplementation with β-carotene, he colour in the carrot, increases the risk of lung cancer amongst heavy smokers. Mechanisms accounting for this apparenty contradictory behaviour will be presented together with the dietary information they suggest.

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Will Robots Ever Become Intelligent

Professor Martin Smith
Technology Innovation Centre, University of Central England, Birmingham

Science fiction writers generally regard the creation of intelligent robots as inevitable. Recently some of the world's leading robotics researchers have begun to agree with them. However some equally eminent scientists have insisted that intelligent robots are virtually impossible. This talk describes progress towards the goal and illustrates where current trends are leading.