Welcome to the Knutsford SciBar Website

NEXT MEETING – 7pm (virtual doors at 6.30), 5th July 2021

At our final meeting before the August summer break, Dr Kate Slade from the Neuroscience of Speech and Action Laboratory in Lancaster University’s Psychology Department is going to talk about her work in a talk entitled “Tired of Listening? A journey Through the Sense of Hearing”. For more info see here.

**** Coronavirus  ****

We hope that we will be able to return to normal meetings from September (remembering that we do not hold a SciBar in August). Unfortunately we can no longer use the Sports Club at a sensible time because of new regular bookings they now have. We felt that it was highly desirable that we found somewhere else in Knutsford, and the most logical place was a return to the Angel. The only regular booking that they have for their meeting room is for the first Monday monthly, so to keep things as near as possible to our current schedule, we have opted for the second Monday (which may become the third when the first Monday is a Bank Hoiday, but that is not yet clear). We plan to keep the time as it has been for virtual meetings – 6.30 for 7.00pm start. We MAY also have the occasional virtual meeting (quite possibly in December, and possibly at other times) instead of “normal meetings. We will clarify in due course. We will email everyone on the SciBar mailing list with more details once we have clarified things. One thing that will definitely have changed since we were last at the Angel is access to the room – the stairs we used to use have now become a store cupboard!

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

The joining instructions for July’s (and any future) virtual meeting will be sent to everyone on our mailing list a few days before the meeting – they will not be published on the website.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).


And on a different subject, you might like to have a look at: https://stfc.ukri.org/public-engagement/activities-for-the-public/visit-daresbury-laboratory/talking-science-at-daresbury-laboratory/ A member of the staff from Daresbury Labs recently contacted us to say that they are giving monthly science talks online aimed at the general public, and asked us to let people know. The link above has details as to how to find out what’s going on. It’s worth mentioning that, in the past, Knutsford SciBar has collaborated with Daresbury at some of their open events.

And finally, something that was mentioned during in the introduction to April’s talk, Professor Sarah Bridle, who gave us two talks in 2018, the first on dark matter and dark energy, and the second on the completely different topic of food production and climate change, was recently on the BBC 4 programme The Life Scientific talking about the latter. If you missed it, the programme is still available to listen to, or to download – see: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000sqk6

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5th July 2021 (Zoom 7pm) – Tired of Listening? A journey Through the Sense of Hearing

Dr. Kate Slade
Dr Kate Slade

Dr Kate Slade from the Neuroscience of Speech and Action Laboratory in Lancaster University’s Psychology Department is going to talk about her work. This is what she says about her talk:

“Think back to a time when you’ve been in a café or restaurant with a friend, an environment filled with chattering people, yet somehow you are able to tune into a single conversation, ignoring all the other environmental noise. The brain’s remarkable ability to filter out irrelevant noise is known as the ‘cocktail party effect’. It is just one example of the extraordinary processes involved in understanding speech. Although we might hear with our ears, we ‘listen’, process, and understand sounds with our brain. 

“When hearing is impaired, the brain might have to work harder to de-code and understand sound signals received from the ear. This might affect how the brain works, and even cause people with hearing loss to avoid noisy social situations where listening is very difficult. There is evidence that hearing loss and social interaction may increase the risk of dementia, but that we can reduce this risk by alleviating hearing loss, and maintaining social interactions. More than ever social interaction is complicated and isolation is on the rise; what could be the impact of this pandemic on our hearing and memory function?

“In this talk, we will explore the sense of hearing from the ears, through to the brain. We will discover extraordinary ways in which the brain copes, and adapts when hearing is impaired, and what this means for our overall brain function. “

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7th June 2021 (Zoom 7pm) – 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.

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10th May 2021 (Zoom 7pm) – Just a Second/Ancient Light

It’s two for the price of one in May, when Dr Steve Barrett returns to give two short talks: Just a Second, in which Steve explores what can happen in one second, and explains why we need leap seconds; plus Ancient Light: Large telescopes have imaged galaxies that are billions of light-years distant. Is it possible to capture an image of one of these very remote objects without a telescope? Steve alluded to this in the talk he gave in March when he referred to photographing objects travelling faster then the speed of light.

You can see details of all of Steve’s talks at: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/~sdb/Talks/Outreach.html

Following on from Steve’s very entertaining talks on the 10th May, he kindly sent the following information:

You can download handouts of the slides of Steve’s talks here:

And video recordings of the talks are here:
Just a Second: https://stream.liv.ac.uk/s/fe4yvyx7
Ancient Light: https://stream.liv.ac.uk/s/8sq82hf6

And if anybody wants to have a think about the weird situation of light travelling through space that is expanding faster than light, here’s an analogy with a person swimming through water that is flowing faster than they can swim:

Steve suggests that it takes a few minutes of quiet thought with a cup of tea for people to get their head around this rather unintuitive concept (the website administrator certainly found that a couple of cans of Brewdog did NOT help!).

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12th April 2021 (Zoom 7pm) – 5G: The Need, Technical Challenges and Impact

Prof Nigel Linge

Professor Nigel Linge, University of Salford, School of Computing, Science and Engineering, will be talking about 5G. From his website, this is what Nigel says about his talk: “In December 2017, the world took an important step forward in the development of the next generation of mobile phones when the first standard for 5G was published. The journey to this point began back in the 1980s when the first generation of analogue mobile phones was introduced. The move to 2G in the 1990s heralded improved communications and the introduction of data services. The third generation subsequently brought better Internet connections and then 4G offered high-speed broadband connectivity. This talk however, examines the latest moves towards 5G, what that entails and what its impact might be. The talk will explore why 5G is needed, how it differs from 4G, what technical challenges need to be overcome and which new applications and services will become available.” You can see more about Nigel on his website: https://www.engagingwithcommunications.com/index.html

Following on from Professor Linge’s talk, here is a link to a paper on 5G and safety concerns: https://www.theiet.org/impact-society/factfiles/engineering-safety-factfiles/allaying-health-concerns-regarding-5g-and-exposure-to-radio-waves/ . Also, the triangle that Nigel showed as one of his slides was felt by several people to be very useful – it was created by the International Telecommunications Union as part of a presentation IMT-2020 NETWORK HIGH LEVEL REQUIREMENTS, HOW AFRICAN COUNTRIES CAN COPE. The specific page (14) of the presentation can be viewed here.

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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.

You can see details of all Steve’s talks (including this one) at https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/~sdb/Talks/Outreach.html

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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.

Jamie Woodward

Jamie Woodward

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!

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