Oxford University Scientific Society - Hilary Term 2009

Accelerate! Physics Show

Susie Sheehy and Andrew Steele - First Week - 21st January 2009

Accelerate! is a 45-minute demonstration lecture allowing you to get up close and personal with the exciting world of particle and accelerator physics. Through the use of demonstrations involving explosions, hair-raising experiences and objects which float in mid-air you'll learn how particle accelerators can do everything from recreating conditions just after the Big Bang, to finding new ways to treat cancer. Accelerate! is also a great chance to find out how the drive the World's biggest machine—the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Lots of demonstrations and oodles of audience involvement—all whilst learning about some of the most exciting science of our time!

From the Origin of Life to the Origin of Complexity

Nick Lane—Popular Science Author - Second Week - 28th January 2009

Nick Lane is a celebrated popular science author. His books include Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life (OUP 2005) and Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World (OUP 2002). He also co-edited Life in the Frozen State (CRC Press 2004). Nick will be discussing his upcoming book Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution, which is scheduled for publication in April 2009. Nick studied biochemistry at Imperial College and completed his doctoral studies at the Royal Free Hospital. He has also written numerous articles in Nature, Scientific American, and New Scientist.

(Source: Nick Lane's website http://www.nick-lane.net/index.html)

The Music of Life: How to Put Humpty-Dumpty Back Together Again

Prof Dennis Noble, Oxford - Third Week - 4th February 2009

Professor Denis Noble obtained his PhD from University College London in 1961. He worked on some of the first computer modelling experiments of the heart, and he is now the co-Director of Computational Physiology in Oxford. He uses computer models of biological organs and systems to interpret function from the molecular level to the whole body. He also worked on creating the first virtual organ, the virtual heart. He wrote The MUSIC of LIFE (OUP 2006).

(Source: adapted from http://noble.physiol.ox.ac.uk/People/DNoble/.)

What is the (Museum of the) History of Science for?

Dr Jim Bennett, Museum of the History of Science - Fourth Week - 11th February 2009

Dr. Jim Bennett is the Director of the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford. Previously, he was the curator of the Whipple Museum of the History of Science at Cambridge. His research interests cover the history of practical mathematics from the 16th century to the 18th century, as well as scientific instruments and astronomy. In this talk, Dr. Bennett will speak about the value of the history of science and tell us more about the nature of the museum.

Darwin's Compass: How Evolution Discovers the Song of Creation

Prof Simon Conway-Morris, University of Cambridge - Fifth Week - 18th February 2009

Professor Conway-Morris studies the constraints on evolution and the historical processes that lead to the emergence of complexity. He specializes in researching the construction of the major animal body plans in the Cambrian explosion. He authored the book Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe (CUP 2003), which discusses evolutionary convergence and intelligence, and the book The Crucible of Creation: The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals (OUP 1998). He is a member of the Royal Society and was awarded the Lyell Medal of the Geological Society of London in 1998.

(Source: adapted from the University of Cambridge website.)

Science and Technology Foresight—Can we do it?

Prof Joyce Tait, University of Edinburgh - Sixth Week - 25th February 2009

Professor Joyce Tait (CBE) is Scientific Advisor of the ESRC Innogen Centre, and a professor at the University of Edinburgh. She has an interdisciplinary background in natural and social sciences covering: technology development strategies in the chemical and life science industries (including agro- biotechnology and pharmaceuticals); translational medicine; governance, risk assessment and regulation; policy analysis; stakeholder attitudes and influences; science and risk communication.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and also the Society for Risk Analysis. Her current appointments include Member of the Board of Directors, Scottish Stem Cell Network Ltd; Member of the Governing Council of the Roslin Institute; Member of the Scottish Science Advisory Council; and Member of the Scientific and Technical Council of the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC), Geneva.

The Genetics of Common Human Diseases

Prof Peter Donnelly - Seventh Week - 4th March 2009

Professor Donnelly specializes in applied probability and statistics in genetics. His research group in Oxford works on the development of mathematical methodology to analyse genetic data. He is currently the Director for the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics. His previous research was on mathematical models to study evolution.

Due to his reputation for the interpretation of DNA evidence, he has been involved as an expert witness on forensic science in trials. He has also worked on many large scale projects, such as the International HapMap Project and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, which is the largest genetic study to date of human diseases. Additionally, he is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences.

(Source: adapted from the University of Oxford website)

Snap-shot MRI and Beyond

Sir Peter Mansfield, Nottingham - Eighth Week - 11th March 2009

Sir Peter Mansfield is a fellow of the Royal Society. He is a British physicist who was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries concerning magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The Nobel Prize was shared with Paul Lauterbur, who also contributed to the development of MRI. Sir Peter is Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Nottingham.

In the early 1970s, Sir Peter's vision allowed him not only to understand how to transform Nuclear Magnetic Resonance into a medical imaging technique but also to foresee what would be required to make the technique clinically useful and to identify many of the potential areas of application for MRI in clinical medicine. In the decades since, he has been driven to realise these potential applications, with his work often being years ahead of its time. He is responsible for introducing a new understanding of important aspects of the physics of NMR and image formation, as well as the invention of many of the techniques and features of the scanner equipment that were needed to make clinical MRI a reality. Today, MRI scanners are used in hospitals all over the world, and over 60 million investigations with MRI are carried out every year. The awarding of the Nobel Prize is a testament to the profound impact that this eminent physicist's work has had on the practice of medicine.

(Source: adapted from the University of Nottingham website.)

Chemical Nanoscience

Prof Andrew de Mello, Imperial College London - Eighth Week - 12th March 2009

Professor de Mello researches on microfluids and nanoscale science, specialising in developing microfluidic devices for bio-analytical applications, ultra-sensitive optical detection techniques, nanofluidic reaction systems for chemical synthesis, novel methods for nanoparticle synthesis and the exploitation of semiconducting materials in diagnostic applications.

He was awarded the Clifford Paterson Lectureship and Medal in 2008 by the Royal Society, and the SAC Silver Medal for 2002 by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

(Source: adapted from the Imperial College London website.)