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.
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.
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 University 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.
Dr 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.
On Saturday 27th April we took part in the Knutsford Sports Club’s Open Day event. We had been invited to participate because the Sports Club is our regular venue.
Terry and Roger set up a table and told the visitors about the SciBar. Despite Storm Hannah causing a generally low visitor turnout, the Scibarians had considerable interest and may have found some new recruits.
In April, Mubashra Latif, who is studying for her PhD in the faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Chester, will talk about her research. Mubashra is being supported by the University of Chester’s Eco-Innovation Cheshire and Warrington project,investigating alternative feedstocks which might be turned into energy. Particularly, how businesses could use special on-site biomass energy converters to generate clean power, cut their power bills and heat their own premises.
A range of feedstocks is being trialled, including animal and agricultural matter, to generate combined heat and power, with the aim of discovering which feedstocks work best to create electricity and heat (and therefore redirecting it from landfill). Mubashra hopes that she can also eventually use her research and energy expertise to benefit her home country of Pakistan, where one third of the population lacks the access to electricity which has become a basic life necessity in the 21st century. “I am really excited about this project.” says Mubashra “PhD research can sometimes remain as a thesis, so I feel very lucky to be somewhere where my research will be implemented in the real world to solve real world problems.”
Arensis – an internationally recognised British-based German energy company – is also involved in the research. This pleases Mubashra and she is keen to continue working with Arensis, if possible, as it looks to expand internationally. “Not only will I get my PhD, but this research project is also giving me hands-on experience of working for Arensis. Also, Pakistan lacks energy specialists, so I hope eventually to go home as an asset to my country, to be part of international projects going on in Pakistan that are internationally funded.”