Welcome to the Knutsford SciBar Website

This blog shows all our events, both future and past.

Our next meeting is on Monday 3rd June 2019 at our usual venueProfessor Jamie Woodward will talk to us on the very topical subject of “Microplastics in Manchester’s Rivers”. For more information, see here.

Please note that the start time will be 19.30 until announced otherwise. The entrance fee is £2 (free to students and under 21s).

We now have speakers booked for the rest of 2019, and are looking to sign up more for next year. We have had a lot of ideas from the membership, and are following many of those up, but more are always welcome, so keep them coming.

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4th November 2019 – Made to be Measured

The revolutions in analytical science for the real time analysis of the human body

This talk will be given by Dr Tony Bristow (FRSC), AstraZeneca, Macclesfield

Analytical science has made an enormous impact on the understanding of the biological and chemical processes within the human body.

This has been achieved via the application of a vast range of techniques.

However, many of these approaches require off‐line analysis, where samples are taken from a subject, transported to a laboratory, prepared and then analysed.

A vision for the future would remove the need to take a sample and analysis would be carried out on an individual in real time, to provide an immediate measurement of the level of an analyte or analytes.

This presentation will describe some of the most exciting developments in real time measurement of the human body. From cancer diagnosis by mass spectrometry to real time monitoring of key clinical analytes using smart phone based devices, this incredibly exciting science will be described.

However, this does raise a final question. Will we be making everybody a home analytical scientist and what could be the implications?

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7th October 2019 – Bog Oaks and Bog Bodies

Dr Jonathan Lageard, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Studies, Division of Geography & Environmental Management, Manchester Metropolitan University will tell us what has been discovered as peat bogs have been exploited.

Peatlands cover significant areas within the north-west and have suffered considerably through drainage and exploitation. One positive aspect of these interventions has been the uncovering of rich organic archive including bog oaks and bog bodies. Increasingly sophisticated scientific analyses of these archives have not only dated, but have also shed significant light on the nature of past environments and their human occupants.

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2nd September 2019 – 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.


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1st July 2019 – Devices that Sense Odours

Professor Krishna Persaud of the University of Manchester will  give a talk around the theme of “Devices that sense odours”. The University is a partner in the ‘PlasticArmPit’ project which is looking at devices which will recognise odour with sensors so small and flexible that they can be integrated into almost anything.

Such technology could enable clothing that automatically deodorizes you, food packaging that alerts you to contents past their best, or bandages that can detect early-stage infections, but these activities require embedded and customized processing hardware built on a flexible substrate such as plastics.

More details can be found here:

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3rd June 2019 – Microplastics in Manchester’s Rivers

Professor Jamie Woodward, Professor of Physical Geography and Head of the Department of Geography at The University of Manchester, will tell us about research in the Department of Geography at the UnIMG_2730iversity of Manchester which has shone a light on a new contamination issue in UK rivers. Microplastics are present in all the rivers of the region from the Pennine headwaters to the city of Manchester. One reach in the River Tame has the highest concentration of microplastics so far recorded in any aquatic environment worldwide. This talk will set out the background to this microplastics research and show how the major floods in the winter of 2015/2016 allowed the first measurements of microplastics transport through a river network. A key finding of this research is the demonstration that heavily populated urban rivers are the main supplier of microplastics to the oceans.

Jamie will explore the wider significance of this research and argue that to tackle the problem we need to better understand the sources and associated river basin processes, improve our management of wastewater, and change our behaviour.

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13th May 2019 – The Magic of MRI

Helen BeaumontDr Helen Beaumont of Manchester University will  talk to us about MRI: What is an MRI machine? How does it work? What can it measure? Why does it have to be so big, so loud, so expensive? And what can it tell us about our brains? Come for a quick fly past spinning protons to the human connectome (note from blog-poster JC: you can check it out on Wikipedia, but my simple interpretation is that a connectome is a wiring diagram of the neural networks in the brain).

Dr Beaumont was originally going to give this talk in December 2018, but due to an important work commitment, had to reschedule her visit to the SciBar. We had hoped to welcome her in March 2019 but personal circumstances have overtaken Helen so she has now rescheduled for May.

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