Are We Alone? Living in a Hostile Universe
Prof. Geraint Lewis
University of Sydney
9th October 2019
Is there alien life on alien worlds? As we look out into the universe, we find more and more planets, but our search for extra-terrestrial life has so far yielded nothing. In this talk, Geraint Lewis will explore our scientific understanding of life in the universe, our continuing search for the signatures of alien civilisations, and address the question of "where is everybody?". We will find that, whilst life may be common, intelligent life and star-crossing civilisations appear to be vanishingly rare, and we might be alone in the universe.
Lord Phillips Memorial Lecture:
Evolutionary Genetics: How Do New Genes Arise?
Professor Aoife McLysaght
Trinity College Dublin
16th October 2019
Sponsored by the Royal Society of Biology
The de novo creation of novel protein-coding genes was once considered so improbable as to be impossible. In the last five years, this view has been overturned by extensive evidence from diverse sources. Prof. McLysaght, a guest lecturer during the 2018 Royal Institution Christmas lectures, will explain how, from simple beginnings these genes have in some instances acquired complex structure, regulated expression and important functional roles.
More Smoke and Noise: A Journey into Amateur Rocketry
Dr Phil Charlesworth University of Wales, Newport
30th October 2019
A surprise Christmas present can have unforseen consequences. At Christmas 2000 Dr Phil Charlesworth was given a model rocket starter kit by his wife. Two decades later he has designed and built several hundred rockets, some of which are capable of supersonic flight. He now runs the only rocketry club in the region and supports rocketry projects at secondary schools and universities. In this talk he will take you through his journey from that Chistmas present to his current projects. Join him on his his quest for more smoke and noise.
Gold in Wales
Tom Cotterell National Museum Wales
13th November 2019
Welsh gold is regularly in the news, but where does it occur, when was it first discovered, and is there more to be found? This talk will trace the history of gold mining in Wales from the Romans through to modern times, reveal some of the myths surrounding Welsh gold, and explain the complex geological conditions under which the gold occurs.
Through the Keyhole - The Future of Surgery
Dr Krishna Narahari
Cardiff & Vale University Health Board
27th November 2019
This exciting and entertaining talk will look at evolution of surgery over the last few decades and focus on future direction of surgery, particularly minimally invasive surgery. Be prepared for some actual surgical footage and to be challenged about your current perception of cancer surgery!
Redefining the Kilogram, the Kelvin, the Ampere and the Mole: Why You Should Care Even Though You Won't Notice
Dr Michael De Podesta
National Physical Laboratory
11th December 2019
Progress in science and engineering is often linked to progress in metrology. If we cannot measure something then we cannot begin to understand it (science) or improve it (engineering). And better measurement leads to better understanding and control.
Measurement is the quantitative comparison of an unknown quantity with a standard. In the International System of Units – the ‘SI’ – there are seven standard quantities called the ‘base units’: the second, metre, kilogram, ampere, kelvin, candela and mole. The perfection with which these definitions can be made real, represents a fundamental limit to achievable measurement uncertainty. In order to remove these limits, from May 2019 there will be subtle but profound changes in the definitions of four of these base units – the kilogram, ampere, kelvin and mole.
In this talk Michael de Podesta will explain the rationale for the forthcoming changes and why, even though you are unlikely to personally or professionally notice any changes, you should be happy about them.
The History of Echocardiography - Past, Present and Future: Is This the Death of the Stethoscope?
Dr Richard Wheeler
University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff
22nd January 2020
Imaging of the heart is a central part of the contemporary management of all cardiac conditions and echocardiography is the most important modality. Echocardiography began in its simplest form back in the 1950's with the work of Inge Edler who is regarded as the "Father of Echocardiography". His work started with the simplest form of ultrasound imaging with the development of M-mode scanning. The evolution of more complex modes of scanning continued through the next 40 years with doppler, transoesophageal and the concept of stressing indications. That pace of improvement in quality and clinical application continues into our current period.
Cardiac ultrasound is truly an indispensable part of modern medicine with an ever expanding utility particularly in the acutely ill patient, whether in an emergency room or an intensive care unit. The world of cardiology has enjoyed a revolution in technological procedures in the last 25 years and much of this is allied to the ability to achieve an accurate diagnosis with echocardiography and also the use of real time imaging during such procedures e.g. percutaneous aortic valve replacement and atrial septal defect closure.
Our cardiac surgical colleagues also depend on high quality cardiac imaging not only for planning the most appropriate operation but also to guide the success of their surgical techniques e.g. mitral valve repair, and to detect major complications at the time of surgery to allow immediate correction.
Point of care ultrasound refers to the concept of bringing the ultrasound equipment to the patient wherever that clinical setting might be. Echocardiography machines can now be the size of a mobile phone achieving excellent quality images in a hand held unit. This has led many to believe that the traditional methods of clinical assessment, including auscultation with a stethoscope, may be outdated and romantic ideals. I would challenge this viewpoint and demonstrate that the highest quality of cardiac care comes out of expertise using both techniques, especially in the acute setting.
Playing with Fire - Unplanned Adventures in Fire Science and Engineering
Prof. Luke Bisby
5th February 2020
As technical disciplines, fire science and engineering rarely find themselves so central to the public consciousness as they have in the UK during the more than two years since the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017. In his talk, Professor Luke Bisby - Chair of Fire and Structures at the University of Edinburgh, returning presenter in the factual television series 'Impossible Engineering', and expert witness following a number of significant fire disasters internationally - will explain how fire disasters have shaped his own intellectual and professional journey, and how they have - ultimately - led him to be interested less in the physical sciences and engineering, and more in issues of education, sociology, regulation, and professionalism.
200 Years of Astronomy
Prof. Mike Edmunds
19th February 2020
Sponsored by the Institute of Physics
The Royal Astronomical Society was founded in 1820. This talk will start by briefly looking at the state of astronomy in the early 19th century, see why the Society was was formed, and who were its colourful bunch of original 14 founders. The second part of the talk will be a breakneck survey of what has happened since.
Animal Magnetism: Why Migrating Birds Don't Get Lost
Prof. Peter Hore
Corpus Christi College, Oxford
4th March 2020
Unlike humans, birds don't have "Sat Nav" so how do millions of them manage to fly thousands of kilometers every year to arrive safely at their destinations? One source of directional information is provided by the Earth's magnetic field. In this talk I will discuss the proposal that birds and other animals have a magnetic compass that relies on magnetically sensitive chemical transformations in their eyes. So, not "Sat Nav" but "Chem Nav" (perhaps). The talk will touch on the chemistry, physics and biology of this intriguing sensory mechanism.
The Air We Breathe: Aerosols for Good and Bad
Prof. Jonathan Reid
University of Bristol
Sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry
Commonly, we think of aerosols as referring to spray cans used to deliver personal care products. However, an aerosol is a dispersion of any form of particulate matter in a gas phase. Aerosols not only represent one of the largest uncertainties in climate change, through their impact on clouds and radiative forcing, but they are a common vector in the transmission of disease and are a significant component of polluted air impacting on health. Conversely they can be used to deliver drugs to the lungs to treat respiratory diseases and provide an increasingly versatile approach to make new materials. In this talk, we will explore the unique properties of aerosols and why they are so challenging and elusive to study.
Annual General Meeting
Cardiff Scientific Society
Our Annual General Meeting will be held in the Large Chemistry Lecture Theatre with refreshments beforehand in the foyer of the School of Chemistry.
Presidential Lecture: Shape, Form and Architecture in the Crystalline World
Prof. Kenneth Harris
The architecture of crystalline solids has a particular aesthetic appeal, in view of the ordered regularity and symmetric arrangements of the atoms and molecules within such structures, and their analogies to architectural features in the world around us. However, exploring the nature of crystalline materials beyond such superficial analogies reveals a fascinating world of intricacy, complexity, dynamic change and surprising behaviour. The lecture will take a wandering journey through the world of crystalline materials, highlighting a range of structural concepts of contemporary interest and the powerful experimental techniques that are yielding deeper and deeper insights into the secrets of this fascinating world.