Science Cafe: Touching and feeling the nano-world

27 October, 2014 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Tobacco Factory, Raleigh Road, Bristol, BS3 2AJ, UK

Mervyn MilesSpeaker: Mervyn Miles FRS, Professor of Physics at Bristol University.

What do we mean by ‘touch’?

When we think about the atomic and nano a scale, ‘touch’ is not such a straightforward concept as might initially be thought. In fact, even ‘touch’ in our everyday world comes down, of course, to interactions at the nano scale – atoms touching atoms. How would the world feel to us if our fingertips were really small? Imagine that they are only a micrometer in size.  We can investigate this by using focused beams of light to manipulate micrometer-sized particles in three dimensions.  The light beams are generated by holographic optical tweezers (HOT), and the forces that these particles experience can be measured simultaneously. We have built a Dynamic Holographic Assembler to manipulate and image the microscopic world in 3D.

What would it feel like to touch matter with a fingertip that is the size of an atom or even smaller?  The atomic force microscope (AFM) builds up a three-dimensional picture of the nano scale world through touching and ‘feeling’ a surface with an atomically sharp tip. In this way, it can record images of matter that show atoms and molecules, and in some cases, AFM can even ‘feel’ inside an atom.  The invention of the atomic force microscope (AFM) triggered the exponential growth in nano science and technology.

Professor Miles studies: Atomic force microscopy, scanning tunnelling microscopy, scanning near-field optical microscopy, high-speed AFM, high-speed non-contact AFM, holographic opticla tweezer, optical AFM, polymers, biomolecules

What the Royal Society says

Better, smarter, wiser? You decide!

10 November, 2014 @ 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Watershed, Bristol

The technologies of the future are closer than we think. The possibility of enhancing our brains and bodies using drugs, brain implants and physical modification could be in sight. How far will you go to become better, smarter, wiser?

This event will give us the opportunity to hear about current research in this area, what is and might be possible and to discuss what it means for us.

We’ll begin the evening with a short introduction to the topic from Professor Ruud ter Meulen , Bristol University School of Social and Community Medicine.

PlaydecideThen, using a game – Playdecide – written specifically on this topic, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of various scenarios. PlayDecide is a discussion game specially created to support participants to discuss controversial issues in a simple and effective way.

After the game, there’ll be an opportunity to share what we have discovered about our attitudes to the issues surrounding enhancement.

Spaces are limited, so booking is essential (link coming shortly). Tickets are £5 but will exchangeable on the night for a £5 voucher redeemable at the bar.

More details following shortly…

Some interesting links to the issues:

The Future of Brain Implants – How soon can we expect to see brain implants for perfect memory, enhanced vision, hypernormal focus or an expert golf swing?

Make your own memories: one day you’ll be able to replace the bad ones with good ones.

Khosla-Backed Startup Wants to Electrify Your Brain

Is Modafinil Legal?

Brain Gain – The underground world of “neuroenhancing” drugs.

This event is sponsored by Genetic Alliance UK and LSE as part of the NERRI project, which has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme.
The Genetic Alliance is a national charity working to improve the lives of patients and families affected by all types of genetic conditions.

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Science Cafe: Are hormones responsible for my gender?

12 November, 2014 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Halo Cafe, Bar & Restaurant, 141 Gloucester Road, Bristol BS7 8BA

Talk about issues such as gender choice, sex changes and gay genes is more acceptable nowadays, but what do we really know about the science of gender/sex determination? What is really going on when someone decides to change their gender/sex? Is it all about hormones?

Our speaker is Professor Andy Levy, professor of endocrinology at Bristol University. He is a consultant working in acute medicine and clinical endocrinology in addition to having many other interests.

Here’s a video of one of Andy’s presentations:

What is Endocrinology? It’s the study of hormones and the system of glands that produce them. The topic of this science cafe was suggested by the Society for Endocrinology. The Society is a UK-based membership organisation representing a global community of scientists, clinicians and nurses who work with hormones. Together they aim to improve public health by advancing endocrine education and research, and engaging wider audiences with the science of hormones. Find out more at their website:


Science Cafe: Measuring the Universe

24 November, 2014 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Tobacco Factory, Raleigh Road, Bristol, Bristol, City of Bristol BS3 2AJ, UK

Elizabeth Pearson_colour (300x259)Speaker: Dr Elizabeth Pearson – Sky at Night Magazine

How did we first measure the size of the Earth? Or the distance to the Moon? How did that help us find the distance to the nearest stars? As we learn how scientists and philosophers have measured the Universe throughout history, we’ll ask ‘how far away is that galaxy’ and get the answer ‘orange’.

Dr Elizabeth Pearson is Staff Writer for BBC Sky at Night Magazine and has a PhD in working out how far away very far away things are.

measuring the universe