“Curious Minds”

“Curious Minds” is an eclectic series of talks, by leading experts in their fields, exploring the theme of Contemporary Science in Scotland. But don’t expect Powerpoint slides stuffed with meaningless formulas and jargon. We have asked our experts to come along and explain their work in terms we can all understand. Quite a challenge!

We have a great set of talks lined up this year. Interesting, varied, relevant and many of them quite thought-provoking. The season starts on 12 October with a lecture by Dr Alison Sheridan of the National Museum of Scotland. It is appropriate to start off with a talk on archaeology, as 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the Archaeological and Historical Section in PSNS.

Oct 12th: PSNS Archaeological and Historical Section 70th anniversary event. Dr Alison Sheridan, National Museum of Scotland “Green Treasures from the Magic Mountains” Alison will describe how jade axe heads made their way from a remote source in the Alps to the farthest fringes of Neolithic Europe –including Perthshire. Here is some background information on Alison. 

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Oct 26th: Dr Beth Biller, University of Edinburgh “The Search for Exoplanets” How do you find evidence for a planet orbiting a star that is tens or even hundreds of light years away?  And how can you learn anything about it? 

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Nov 9th: Prof Frank Gunn-Moore, St Andrews “The Neurobiology of Dementia” Frank Gunn-Moore is a Molecular Neurobiologist who works on proteins that are involved in the development of mammalian nervous systems –and how they are affected in diseases such as Alzheimers and Cancer.

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Nov 23rd:  Dr Cat Hobaiter, St Andrews “The Language of Life” Cat spends most of her time in the field, in Uganda, working with Chimps and Mountain Gorillas. Her main area of research is communication. You may have heard her recently on BBC Radio 4 “The Life Scientific”.  

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Dec 7th: Prof Richard Ennos, Royal Botanic Gardens “Our Fragile Forests” We all enjoy spending time in our native Caledonian Pine forests. But recent work by Richard’s team has shown they are under threat from diseases and fungi carried by “exotic” species of trees. 

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Jan 11th: Prof Luke Bisby, Edinburgh “Playing with Fire” We are all very aware of the risk of fires in high buildings. Luke Bisby is Arup Professor of Fire and Structures. He is intimately involved in studying fire incidents and in formulating policies on fire safety. He was the author of an expert report on the Grenfell Tower fire. You can learn more about Luke here

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Jan 25th: Prof Annie Anderson, Dundee “Stacking the Odds: how lifestyle and behavioral choices can reduce the risk of cancer” Annie co-directs the Scottish Cancer Prevention Network. It is not possible to eliminate the risk of developing cancer but healthy lifestyle choices can significantly reduce that risk.

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Feb 8th: Paul Gallagher “Transitions” The Photography Section has invited Paul Gallagher, one of the UK’s most respected landscape photographers, to talk about his work. You can see some of his photography here. Please note that extra charges apply for this event

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Feb 22nd: Prof Andy Clark, Edinburgh “Expecting the World” How does our brain make sense of the information it receives from our senses to perceive “the world”?  Andy believes the brain uses stored knowledge to create a model of the world – “a highly controlled hallucination”.  Information from the senses  is filtered in terms of how it fits the pre-conceived model. Andy’s work was recently featured in the New Yorker Magazine.  

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Mar 8th: Prof Ravinder Dahiya, Glasgow “A Sense of Touch” Ravinder’s team works on developing pressure sensitive membrane materials that can be used to create synthetic skin for robots or prosthetic limbs –where the limb can emulate a sense of touch. You can find our more here. 

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Mar 22nd: Dr Michele Ducceschi, Edinburgh “The Physics of Musical Instruments” Michele has developed a model of non-linear string vibrations for sound synthesis. He specialises in Double Bass and Guitar. He will talk about his work –followed by a demonstration by two local musicians who are PSNS members.

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Mar 29th: Prof John Underhill, Heriot Watt “Geoscience and the Energy Challenge” We need energy –but not all sources are either desirable or practical. Fracking has been proposed but John’s work has shown that Scotland’s underlying Geology makes it a less than optimal choice.

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The talks take place on Friday Evenings, at 7:30pm, in the Soutar Theatre of the AK Bell Library. Admission is £6 for the general public and £2 for PSNS members and registered students. School pupils are free. Tickets will be available at e-Computers on Kinnoull St in Perth and at www.EventBrite.co.uk (Search for PSNS Curious Minds).