Curious Minds – Season 6

Curious Minds continues its programme of talks. Unfortunately due to Covid19, live talks in the Soutar Theatre have been cancelled, but participation by Zoom from the comfort of your own home remains to the end of the season.

The talks on Zoom are open to the general public. There is no limit on Zoom participation.  Non members are welcome. Zoom links are free for PSNS members and will be sent by e-mail 2 days before the event. Non members can purchase a Zoom link for £2 which will be available on the Culture Perth & Kinross website at

8th October 2021. Dr Alasdair Richmond, University of Edinburgh. “Time Travel – a guide for the perplexed”. We live in a 4-dimensional Universe but we can only travel in the 3 spatial dimensions. We seem to be locked-in to the inevitable and relentless ticking clock of the present time. But what would it mean if we could break free of the present and travel in time? How might it work? Please note that for personal reasons, Dr Richmond will be unable to travel to Perth so this talk will be on Zoom only.

22nd October 2021. Dr Craig McKenzie. University of Dundee. “Detecting Drugs in Scotland’s Prisons”. New psychoactive substances, such as Spice, are constantly appearing and their manufacturers, distributors and users are adept at avoiding detection. That’s where the forensics skills of Craig’s team in Dundee come in.

5th November 2021. Dr Nick Gardiner. University of St Andrews. “A Potted History of Plate Tectonics”. We are all familiar with the concept of Plate Tectonics. It seems glaringly obvious when you look at a map and see how neatly the continents fit together. But, as late as the 1960’s, the idea was fiercely resisted by many geologists. Nick will discuss the history of the theory, how plate tectonics works on Earth and whether it may be a general model for other planets.

19th November 2021. Professor Colin Moffat. Marine Scotland and Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. “Turning the Tide of Human Impact on Scotland’s Seas”. It is no secret the human activity has caused major damage to our marine environment. But have we finally begun to reverse that trend?

3rd December 2021. Dr Nathan Bailey. University of St Andrews. “Rapid Evolution”. We think of evolution happening very slowly, over many generations. But Nathan studies a species of crickets in Hawaii that have shown remarkably fast adaptation to changes in their environment. What can they teach up about response to extreme climate change?

10th December. Professor Emilie Combet-Aspray. University of Glasgow. “Diet and the Lifecycle”. They say “you are what you eat”. It is known that there are links between foodstuffs and, for example, inflammatory conditions. Is there a magic formula to reduce the incidence of lifestyle diseases?

14th January 2022. Dr Gregory Kenicer. Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. “Scottish Plant Lore”. Greg is a well known author of books on Scottish plants. He will talk about many of the inventive ways that Scottish people have made use of our common, native plants through the millennia.

Dr Clare Hoskins. University of Strathclyde. “Cancer Nanomedicines”. Chemotherapy can have awful side effects. Imagine taking a single drug molecule, wrapping it in a tiny package addressed to a specific cancer cell and adding a code that allows it to pass through the cell wall and release it’s load exactly where it can do most damage. Science fiction? That’s what Clare is working on.

11th February 2022. Dr Mehul Malik. Herriot Watt University. “Quantum Entanglement”. Quantum Mechanics is our most successful description of how the World works on a tiny scale. But nothing about it is intuitive – least of all the phenomenon that Einstein called “spooky action at a distance”. Can QE turn out to have real-World practical applications?

25th February 2022. Dr Emily Alder. Edinburgh Napier University. “The Paleobotany of Jurassic Park”. Emily works at the intersection of Science and Literature. She is well know for her work on Victorian Gothic themes such as Frankenstein. Her latest project is about the role of plants in creating the illusion of Spielberg’s Jurassic Park movies.

11th March 2022. Dr Nick Card. University of the Highlands and Islands. “The Ness of Brodgar”. As director of the Ness of Brodgar project, Nick is in a unique position to bring us an update on the latest developments in one of the most important archaeological excavations in the World. This is a Buchan Lecture, sponsored by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Curious Minds Talks

PSNS has been running our Winter Season of talks under the “Curious Minds” banner since 2015. These talks follow in the footsteps of a tradition of Friday evening lectures stretching back to the founding of the Society in 1867!

Our talks normally take place on Friday Evenings, at 7:30pm, in the Soutar Theatre of the AK Bell Library in Perth. 

Here is a short selection of some of our fantastic talks from the last few years. 


Professor Mike Wheeler tackled the most challenging subject – What is Consciousness?
Professor Luke Bisby. International expert on fire engineering. Luke has been involved in the investigations of a number of major fires – including the World Trade Centre and Grenfell Tower.
Professor Wendy Bickmore is introduced by Past President John Lewington
Dr Victoria Martin, CERN, talked about her work on detecting the Higgs Boson. She was surrounded by a group of budding Physicists
Steve Brussatte, the Lady Provost of Perth and an excited dinosaur fan
A busy Soutar Theatre
Professor Naimh nic Daeid talks about Forensic Science
A poster for Professor John Underhill’s talk.