Talking Science with the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory 2021-22

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This series of fascinating and FREE monthly scientific lectures by invited speakers takes place once a month from September to June.

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As part of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory's Talking Science programme, we have a fantastic series of talks lined up for you, and we do hope you'll be able to join us for them! The talks cover everything from from studying life in extreme environments to how we use particle physics to model pandemics.

We now plan to run Talking Science entirely via Zoom until at least the end of 2021 with talks only taking place once at 7pm. From January we may be able to welcome you back to the lab - we'll update you as soon as we can!

If you're not able to join the webinar live, but would like a recording of it, please register and select the option to receive the recording on the order form.

To allow you to book more than one ticket at once, the date of the talk is shown in your ticket name, not in the time shown on Eventbrite. We will send you a reminder email in the run up to each talk you have booked.

Talks coming up:

FRIDAY 24 SEPTEMBER, 19:00 - A glowing report: Microbes & Space Radiation (suitable for ages 15+) by Dr Jennifer Wadsworth, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts

Microbes are some of the simplest organisms on our planet but they can be used to begin to answer some of the most complex questions: What are the limits to life on Earth? Could there be life or signs of past life on other planetary bodies? Will we be able to build sustainable, off-world bases? These questions are exactly the kind that the field of astrobiology aims to (try to) answer. Jennifer will give you a brief overview of how radiation can be used to gain insight into these topics, why it’s a good idea, and how this kind of research can not only advance our exploration of our place in the universe, but also how it can directly benefit our lives on Earth."

FRIDAY 22 OCTOBER, 19:00 - Vaccines by numbers (suitable for ages 11+) by Dr Sean Elias, The Jenner Institute, University of Oxford

In the UK we are getting close to fully vaccinating 70% of the population. But what of the remaining 30%? It this talk we consider who they are and why they aren't yet vaccinated.

Of that 30% around 20% are children under 18 many of which will be fully vaccinated in the near future or are deemed low enough risk to not require vaccination. The remaining 10% are a varied group, from those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons to those who are vaccine hesitant or actively against vaccination. The question is how can we the scientific community reach out to these individuals to maximise vaccine uptake, and ultimately does it really matter.

FRIDAY 26 NOVEMBER, 19:00 - Marvellous microbes for plastic pollution (suitable for ages 12+) by Dr Joanna Sadler, University of Edinburgh

From the clothes we wear, through to tiny components of a mobile phone, plastic is present in almost every corner of our lives. Dependence on these useful materials has led to a vast build-up of plastic in natural environments, leading to a global plastic waste crisis. Incredibly, Nature has already responded with its own solutions to tackle plastic waste. This talk will explore how some microbes (microscopic living organisms) can ‘eat’ plastic and how modern science can use this to design new methods to break down plastic and even use it as a resource to make useful new products.

FRIDAY 17 DECEMBER, 19:00 - The James Webb Space Telescope: Preparing for launch (age 10+) by Paul Eccleston, Chief Engineering, RAL Space and Dr Stephen Wilkins, University of Sussex

The James Webb Space Telescope is the largest space telescope ever built and, after years of designing, building, planning and testing, its launch date has been announced as 18 December. Webb is the scientific successor to the famous Hubble telescope, and will learn even more about the Universe: from the first galaxies to the air around alien worlds – possibly contributing to the search for life.

To celebrate the launch, join Paul Eccleston (Chief Engineer, RAL Space) and Stephen Wilkins (University of Sussex) as Paul focuses on the amazing engineering that makes this telescope possible – including the extensive testing that has taken place to make sure it’s ready, some of which took place here at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory – and Stephen shares some of the fascinating science that Webb will cover, from how stars are formed to the beginnings of planets.

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Organiser STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL)

Organiser of Talking Science with the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory 2021-22

Operated by STFC and located on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory provides a thriving and collaborative environment for research in:

  • particle physics
  • space science
  • materials
  • astronomy
  • photon science
  • computational and e-science
  • biology
  • biomedicine
  • chemistry

Approximately 1,200 staff at RAL support the work of more than 10,000 scientists and engineers, chiefly from the university research community. RAL’s pioneering research in areas such as energy, security, healthcare and the environment addresses important challenges facing society.

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