Curious Minds – Season 7

Curious Minds is back, live in the Soutar Theatre, for its 7th season of Friday evening lectures around the general theme of “Contemporary Science in Scotland”.

This year we have assembled our usual mix of superb speakers covering a wide range of topics – from the long-ago Neolithic past in Orkney to the bid to bring the UK’s first clean, green fusion power plant to Ayrshire. Along the way we will touch on abstract topics, such as the parallels between theology and physics, and concrete topics, such as, well, concrete!

It is our intention to hold all of the talks, live, in the Soutar Theatre. Depending on how the Covid situation develops we may ask you to wear masks and limit attendance numbers. Zoom will be our fall-back scenario.

To help us manage numbers, should that become necessary, all ticketing will be via Eventbrite. We will put links to Eventbrite on this page imminently.

7th October 2022. Dr Nick Card, UHI Orkney. “The Ness of Brodgar”. Nick is director of the famous Ness of Brodgar excavations. He’ll tell us about the history of the dig and bring us up to date on the most recent discoveries.  This talk is sponsored by the Society of Antiquaries.

28th October 2022. Professor Declan Diver, Glasgow. “Fusion: power for the future”. The UKAEA is currently planning to construct a Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) fusion power plant. One of the 5 sites under consideration is at Ardeer, in Ayrshire. Prof Diver is leading the bid to bring this project to Scotland.

4th November 2022. Cathleen O’Grady. “Rewilding in Scotland”. Cathleen is a freelance journalist who has written for National Geographic, The Atlantic and The Guardian.  She is interested in the impact of Science on Society and the roles played by Government, land ownership and money.

18th November 2022. . Dr Eric Gauger. Herriot Watt. “Nature’s Quantum Technologies”. Some things in biology cannot be explained by classical science. How do birds sense the Earth’s magnetic field?  What makes photosynthesis so efficient? That’s where Quantum Biology comes in. 

2nd December 2022. Professor Mark Harris. Edinburgh. “The Science of Faith”. Mark is a PhD Physicist and an ordained Anglican priest. He is interested in the complex ways that the natural sciences and religious beliefs relate to each other. 

9th December 2022. Dr Moray Newlands. Dundee. “Concrete”. It is the fabric of modern life. Buildings, roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, harbours. But is it our friend or our foe? Moray is an expert on all aspects of this ubiquitous material and he will dispel some of the myths surrounding it. 

27th January 2023.Dr Steve Brusatte. “Dinosaurs on Skye”. Steve talked to us in our very first Curious Minds season. And now he is back for an update on his latest exciting discoveries. 

10th February 2023. Dr Jasna Martinovic. Edinburgh. “Colour Perception”. Our eyes feed basic data about brightness and chromaticity to our brain where it is, somehow, turned into the rich experience of colour vision.  How does that work? Jasna will enlighten us. 

24th February 2023. Dr Rebecca Sharman, Abertay. “Camouflage”. Following on from Jasna’s talk, Rebecca is also interested in visual perception. She will talk about how colour and luminance can be used to trick our visual system – as in camouflage.

10th March 2023. Professor Peter Smith. Aberdeen. “Nature-based Mitigation for Climate Change”. Peter is an international expert on Soil Science and has been deeply involved in the UN COP conferences for more than 20 years.  

24th March 2023. . Professor Rob Wilson. St Andrews. “Dendrochronology”. Tree rings give us a fascinating picture into past climate variations. Rob connects this with historical records to try and understand the drivers of climate and environmental change. 

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.