Welcome to the Knutsford SciBar Website


Our next virtual meeting will be held at 7pm on Monday December 7th 2020, when Dr Arthur Broadbent of the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester will give a talk entitled Invasive Plant Species – Bogeyman or Ecological Disaster? For more info click here.

From member feedback, our first three virtual meetings have been successful, with the number of virtual attendees being close to the numbers who previously attending in person.

**** Coronavirus  ****

As previously explained on this page, back in March 2020 we cancelled all scheduled meetings up to September, hoping that we would be in a position to resume “real” or live meetings from then. However, approaching Christmas we are definitely not yet where we rather naively thought we would be, and we do not believe we will be able to resume live meetings until well into next year. As people on the mailing list will know, we canvassed views regarding virtual (video conferencing) v. live meetings, and a (small) majority were in favour of virtual. However, since then further government restrictions and the second lockdown have meant that live meetings are impossible for the foreseeable future. As a result we held our first virtual meeting in September 2020, using Zoom video conferencing. We have held further Zoom meetings, and have more scheduled up to March 2021. We know it is not ideal, and we hope that sometime next year we will be able to return to Knutsford Sports Club (or another local venue), but for now it’s either that or shut up shop altogether. We hope that you will support us and our speakers for however long it takes (and let’s keep everything crossed for the vaccine!).

We do not plan to make charges for video lectures, although we may need to review this if we get more that 100 attendees (and Zoom charges go up) but we’ll cross that bridge when/if we come to it.

We are keeping the meetings on the same schedule (first Monday monthly) but one important change to note is that we have changed the start time to 7.00pm. Hopefully this won’t adversely affect anyone – it probably took at least half an hour for most people to travel and queue for a beer, and get a good seat, so it  probably won’t make much difference at the start, but it should mean an earlier finish (helpful for those who eat afterwards). People will be able to join meetings at 6.30pm, and they will be closed to newcomers at 7.00pm.

The joining instructions will be sent to everyone on our mailing list a couple of days before each meeting – they will not be published on the website. So if you are not on our mailing list, but want to attend the video conference, you will need to contact us via the contact form and ask to be added (which means you will be accepting our privacy policy as per GDPR).

As ever, we would like to hear any ideas for speakers, so please keep them coming.

Posted in Uncategorized

Date to be Confirmed – How Do You Observe 1.33 Billion Km3 of Ocean?

This question will be asked by Dr Matt Donnelly, Lead Data Scientist, UK Argo Programme. The oceans play a key role in the climate and provide a habitat for a wide range of marine life, but with an average depth of 3.7km and a surface area of 360 million km2, how on earth do you collect the data to understand its physical properties, how it moves, and how it supports life?

Find out about the robotic Argo floats used to sustain our observations of this dynamic underwater world.

Dr Donnelly is also the organizer of Kirkby SciBar.

Posted in 2020, monthly_meeting | Tagged ,

1st March 2021 (Zoom 7pm) – The Beginning of Everything

Dr Steve Barrett, Department of Physics, University of Liverpool will talk about the beginning of the universe. Several of us recently attended (virtually) Kirkby SciBar and saw Steve giving a talk about Black Holes, and were very impressed by his presentation, so we are very pleased that he is able to talk to us.

Posted in 2021, monthly_meeting | Tagged , ,

1st February 2021 (Zoom 7pm) – Living with a Shrinking Nile for 6,000 Years:geoscience and archaeology in Northern Sudan

Prof Jamie Woodward, who spoke to us in June 2019 about microplastics in Manchester’s rivers, will return to talk to us about the Nile. More details to follow.

NB this talk was going to be given in March 2020, but unfortunately Prof Woodward had to attend an out-of-town conference that day. It was rescheduled for the summer, but had to be postponed again because of the pandemic. Fingers crossed for this time!

Posted in 2020, monthly_meeting | Tagged ,

4th January 2021 (Zoom 7pm) – Above and Beyond: Drones Are Changing the Way we Monitor Volcanoes

Dr Emma Liu, University College London will give this talk. Some background (taken directly from https://festivalofgeology.org.uk/): “Volcanology is undergoing an aerial revolution. Drone technology is changing the way we collect data across the geosciences, especially in fields that require measurements over large spatial areas or in potentially hazardous locations; not only can we see the Earth from a new perspective, but we can also collect measurements and samples from places that would be otherwise inaccessible. As global populations now live closer to active volcanoes than ever before, volcano monitoring – through measuring gas emissions or topographic changes, for example – is becoming increasingly important in today’s world. In this talk, I will introduce how aerial strategies are improving our ability to both monitor and respond to volcanic hazards, and how these approaches are being integrated into operational monitoring at volcano observatories around the world. Drawing on my own active research from volcanoes in Papua New Guinea, Hawai’i and the South Sandwich Islands, I will highlight how we are now pushing the frontiers of drone design and deployment to fly higher and further than ever before; targeting beyond-visual-line-of-sight flights at high-altitude active volcanoes.”

Dr Emma Liu
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7th December 2020 (Zoom 7pm) – Invasive Plant Species

Invasive Plant Species – Bogeyman or Ecological Disaster?

Dr Arthur Broadbent of the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester will lead the discussion.


Himalayan Balsam

“Novel weapons”, “Enemy Release” “Invasional Meltdown” – these are some of the more popular hypotheses proposed to explain the paradoxical success of invasive plants. But is this militaristic language justified? Are invasive plants really such a threat? And what does explain their unlikely prominence?

Dr Broadbent will present the evidence surrounding the underlying causes of plant invasions, and with a more nuanced take on their ecological impact.

NB this talk was originally going to be given on 2nd September 2019, but had to be rearranged to April 2020 due to an unforeseen bovine intervention, and then postponed again because of the pandemic.


Posted in 2020, monthly_meeting | Tagged , | 1 Comment

2nd November 2020 (Zoom 7pm) – Tribology of Spacecraft Mechanisms: 48-million Miles Without an Oil Change

Following on from our September 2019 talk on tribology on earth by John Anderson, Dr Michael Buttery Snr. Project Scientist, ESR Technology, Engineering Safety and Risk will talk about tribology in space.

Posted in 2020, monthly_meeting | Tagged ,