UK: Colchester

The Batte-Lay Tea Room
The Minories
74 High Street
Colchester
Essex CO1 1UE
Website: http://www.TheMinories.org.uk
 
Second Wednesday of the month, 7pm, October to May
    
 

For upcoming events, please see our Café Scientifique Facebook page, link below.

    
Bob Kemp
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Rick O'Gorman
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Our next meeting will be on Wednesday 8th November 2017

Super(bugs) everywhere

Invisible to the naked eye, but incredibly abundant, microorganisms are key to the welfare of our planet.  They live almost everywhere on earth, they drive global processes and their species diversity is enormous, exceeding that of visible organisms many times over.  Dr Etienne Low-Decarie from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Essex will explain how we are only just beginning to understand even basic biology for this large portion of the biosphere.  In our effort to understand these organisms, we discovered that even a normal lake is host to critters that can grow in extreme conditions.  We are now pushing back what were thought to be the chemical and physical limits to life. These findings require that where we look for industrially useful microorganisms and even where we look for life on other planets be thoroughly rethought.

 

Recent speakers   


11th October 2017

The fastest Algorithm

How difficult is it to multiply two matrices, really? A true story

Dr Vanni Noferini, Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Essex, will tell the story of how in the 1960s a young German mathematician shocked the mathematical community by discovering a revolutionary new practical method to perform a certain mathematical task (that is, a new “algorithm”). The novelty amazed the maths world, defying more than one century of prior beliefs on how things should be done.  This led to a worldwide race to the fastest algorithm: a competition that is still alive and well.  Dr Noferini will guide us through the fascinating story of fast matrix multiplication, sharing the most understandable mathematical details, summarizing the ideas beyond the most advanced parts, and emphasizing the human side of this tale of mathematical research.

 

10th May 2017

Bioinformatics - how biologist master their data

Biologists try to understand life by observing nature, and running experiments. But not all scientific research is conducted in the lab or in the field.  A significant amount of biological sciences’ research is now done with computers. As a matter of fact, many biologists spend most of their time developing algorithms and software.  Within the last decade, the amount of biological data generated by research has been so massive that there is more data than can be analysed at once. Thus, biologists rely on computers to make sense of all the data.  This branch of biology is called Bioinformatics and it is a major area of research.  Without computers, for instance, we wouldn’t have sequenced the human genome.  Dr Antonio Marco, lecturer from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Essex, will talk about the origins of Bioinformatics, and how essential this is to understand life, health and diversity.

 

12th April 2017

Human Communication!

How it works, and what happens when things go wrong

For most people, communicating with others – either face-to-face or via a media – is a fairly common activity. However, this does not imply that communication is easy: in fact, research suggests that the psychological processes which are involved in communication are complex, and that there are many ways in which people can fail to understand each other as they interact.  Based on recent findings from experiments involving spontaneous dialogue between pairs of participants, you will learn all about human communication and how it works. You will also learn what happens when communication doesn’t work – and why this might happen more often than you think!  Join us for this talk by Dr Dominique Knutsen from the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex.

 

8th March 2017

The Healing Power of Crystals

Don’t believe the lies!  Crystals truly do have some amazing healing properties… but probably not in the way that you’re thinking if chakras spring to mind. Crystallography, the science of determining the arrangements of atoms in a crystalline solid, has been working tirelessly for the past 100 years to expand our knowledge of the unseen atomic world.  Starting from humble beginnings with the two-atom structure of table salt, sodium chloride, crystallography has since worked its way up to complex molecular machines collecting 29 Nobel Prize winners along the way.  In this talk, Dr Sam Horrell from the University of Essex will demonstrate the true healing power of crystals through structure based drug design using X-ray crystallography.

 

8th February 2017

 Switching off Cancer Cells!!

What structural biology and biochemistry can tell us about cancer: the study of the p90 Ribosomal protein S6 kinase protein family (RSK). Cells are like rooms with lots of switches, but we don’t know which switch turns on which light. Only by knowing which switch is connected to a light bulb, can we control the light in the room. The same happens in a cell: the switches are proteins called kinases and the light bulbs are new proteins produced in the cell. Dr Filippo Prischi, Lecturer in Biochemistry at University of Essex will discuss his work on a unique group of kinases, RSK protein family, which is a promising target for new anti-cancer drugs. By knowing how RSK works, we can understand, and eventually control, the fate of a cell. This information will be indispensable for the development of novel molecules that are able to target only the right “switch”, thus providing a treatment that can stop the continued growth of cancer cells.

 

11th January 2017

The Devil's Greatest Trick:

Attitudies and Prejudice in the 21st Century

Do you really know why you say the things you do?  In the past 20 years, Psychology has begun to question if we actually do.  Perhaps there are attitudes that lie beneath our conscious awareness, but still have the power to shape our behaviour.  What does this mean for our understanding of how attitudes and prejudice work in the mind?  What does this mean for efforts to reduce racism, sexism, and other prejudices?  Join us for this presentation by Dr Anthony O’Reilly of the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex and find out if we can change thoughts that we don’t know we’re having!

 

14th December 2016

Understanding the Brain: How Mathematics can help

The human brain is unambiguously the most complex organ and the mechanisms underlying its functioning are still unclear and not understood, despite decades of intensive research.  We still do not know how information is processed, stored, or recalled; how motor commands emerge and become effective; how we experience the sensory world; how we think or feel!  There are more neurons in the brain than stars in our galaxy, and we form more than one million new connections among these neurons each day.  The scope of the challenge is simply awesome.  Join us for this presentation by Dr Chris Antonopoulos of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Essex and find out how Maths can help unravel the mysteries of the workings of the brain!

  

9th November 2016

The Great Fossil Mine off the Essex Coast

The Essex coast is a great source of treasure which gives us unique clues regarding the environment and our predecessors over the past million years and more. Dr Rachel Bynoe from the Natural History Museum, London will illustrate how much we learn from ancient bones of mammoths, woolly rhinos, sabre toothed tigers and other long extinct species, trawled up by fishing nets around the British coast, especially off Clacton. Britain was once a peninsula of the European continent and there are remains of landscapes hidden under the North Sea. Come along and find out what the evidence tells us about the former residents, their environments and the remains that still exist under the sea.

 

12th October 2016

Mysteries of Memory in the Ageing Mind

Why do you forget some things, like where you put your glasses, but not other things, like interesting historical facts? Why is it that you can walk into a room and forget why you went there, yet at other times personal memories seem to randomly pop into mind? Why do you seem increasingly to encounter memory slips as you grow older? Is there anything that can be done to deter or even reverse those changes? Join us for this interactive and hands-on presentation by Dr Vanessa Loaiza of Department of Psychology at the University of Essex. You will learn how memory works, why it seems to not work so well with age and learn practical, research-based tips for improving your memory in your daily life.