Oxford University Scientific Society - Michaelmas Term 2009

Applying Regenerative Medicine to the Problem of Ageing

Dr Aubrey de Grey, SENS Foundation - First Week - 14th October 2009

Dr Aubrey de Grey is a theoretician in the field of biogerontology who established the mitochondrial free-radical theory of ageing and categorised seven types of ageing damage. He is a co-founder of the SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) Foundation, based in California, USA: a non-profit organisation known for the Methuselah Mouse Prize, awarded to researchers who succeed in extending the lifespan of a mouse to unprecedented lengths. His exploration into regenerative medicine and tissue-repair in pursuit of indefinite lifespan has met with much scepticism in the scientific community. Dr Aubrey de Grey has spoken for us before, and OUSS are delighted to welcome him back again.

Adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aubrey_de_Grey

How do Shapes Fill Space?

Dr Edmund Harriss, The Open University - Second Week - 21st October 2009

"Join us for an adventure into multidimensional space! Learn the mysteries of hyperbolic geometry where there are infinite families of parallel lines. Discover the boundaries of our mathematical understanding. All explained through toys and images."

Dr Edmund Harriss is a research assistant for the Open University, exploring visual and theoretical patterns, including the nonperiodic Penrose Tiling. As a mathematician and artist he also creates display works: his exhibition How do Shapes fill Space? appeared at this summer's Royal Society Science Exhibition.

Adapted from http://maxwelldemon.com

So, what does Vitamin C Look Like?

Dr David Watkin, University of Oxford - Third Week - 28th October 2009

Earlier this year, Dr David Watkin gave the prestigious Kathleen Lonsdale Lecture for x-ray crystallography. He is a promoter of "hands-on" x-ray crystallography, but also works on improving data processing software for use by preparative chemists. He is best known for his involvement with the highly respected refinement software CRYSTALS, developed in Oxford and through the BCA biannual teaching school, which he co-founded twenty-five years ago. Dr David Watkin is currently involved in a project with Durham University to preserve the older generation of crystallographic knowledge by encoding it into modern software: the Age Concern project.

Adapted from http://www.chem.ox.ac.uk

Nature's Raincoats

Prof. Julia Yeomans, University of Oxford - Fourth Week - 4th November 2009

Professor Julia Yeomans is a fellow of St Hilda's college and a popular lecturer in theoretical physics. Her current areas of research include statistical physics, soft condensed matter and biological physics. Her close work on plants and insects has demonstrated the occurrence of superhydrophobicity in nature arising from microscopic wax coatings and hairs. These features help to keep leaves and wings dry. Using mathematics, computer simulations and experimentation, Professor Julia Yeomans and her team aim to harness nature's technology to design man-made superhydrophobic surfaces for applications such as low friction microchannels and self-drying fabrics.

Adapted from http://www-thphys.physics.ox.ac.uk/people/JuliaYeomans/home.html

The Lilliput Laboratory: is Size Important?

Prof. Andrew deMello, Imperial College London - Fifth Week - 11th November 2009

Professor Andrew deMello has been part of the Chemistry Department at Imperial College London since 1997 and is currently Professor of Chemical Nanosciences. He is a member of the Detection and Decontamination of Chemical & Biological Weapons Working Group of the Royal Society and was awarded the SAC Silver Medal for his contributions to the Analytical Sciences in 2002. He sits on several editorial boards, has published 80 research papers and coauthored a book. His research into miniaturised chemical analysis systems and ultra-high sensitivity detection concentrates upon the exploration of novel phenomena and high efficiency manipulation of small liquid samples to improve conventional analytical instrumentation.

Adapted from http://echeminfo.colayer.net/COMTY_medemello

Comparative Cognition: Lessons from Corvids and Children

Prof. Nicola Clayton, University of Cambridge - Sixth Week - 18th November 2009

See also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_MnwNyX0Ds.

Professor Nicola Clayton is a researcher into Comparative Cognition amongst apes (primates) and crows (corvids). Her ground-breaking research at the interface between animal behaviour, experimental psychology and neuroscience has revealed complex social behaviour in corvids, such as food-caching and stealing (with auditory planning as well as visual), episodic-like memory, and synchronism between mates. The occurrence amongst corvids of qualities believed unique to primates implies an independent evolution of intelligence.

Adapted from http://www.psychol.cam.ac.uk/pages/staffweb/clayton/

The Great Cosmic Gamble: Making Galaxies from Nothing

Prof. Carlos Frenk, University of Durham - Seventh Week - 25th November 2009

Professor Carlos Frenk is a theoretical cosmologist, and one of the most frequently cited space-science authors in the world. In 2004 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society and in 2007 awarded the Daniel Chalonge medal from L'Observatoire de Paris. He is the Ogden Professor of Fundamental Physics and Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University. As the Principal Investigator of the Virgo Consortium, he builds supercomputer simulations to model the development of the cosmic structure of the universe from simple origins.

Adapted from http://star-www.dur.ac.uk/~csf/

Plastic from Potatoes and Rubber from Rice

Prof. Andrew Abbott, University of Leicester - Eighth Week - 2nd December 2009

Professor Andrew Abbott is a Professor of Physical Chemistry and researcher into room temperature ionic liquids and supercritical fluids. His work upon polymers for the Royal Science Exhibition aims to emulate the chemistry of plants to produce a range of versatile plastics from purified starch and cellulose. Professor Andrew Abbott hopes for waste starch to act as an alternative source of raw material to oil in support of a sustainable future. He has been investigating complex chemical mixtures which are biomimetic of cell fluids, and varying their compositions to investigate the properties of resultant plastics.

Adapted from http://www.le.ac.uk/chemistry/staff/apa1.html