03/2018: Atom Festival

Atom Festival of Science and Technology

Our regular meeting coincides with the Atom Festival of Science and Technology 2018. We will not have our standard evening, but a full week of Science and Technology. Members have free entry on the Thursday, March 15 event.

More details are or will be available on the festival web page.

We are also looking for volunteers to help running the festival. Please consider signing up at http://www.atomfestival.org.uk/volunteers/

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02/2018: Archeobotany (J. Meen)

Place and Time: Thursday 15 Feb 2018 from 19:00 for 19:30

New Location: King Charles Room, King’s Head and Bell, (10 E St Helen St, Abingdon OX14 5EA)


TITLE: Using Science to Reveal the Environments of the Past

Archaeology is often perceived as taking place mostly out in muddy trenches, with no technology more sophisticated than a trowel. However, excavation is only the start in the journey to understand an archaeological site, and techniques with their roots in the scientific world play a vital role. Archaeobotany is the study of ancient plant remains. These may be grains of pollen, assemblages of seeds, or fragments of charcoal; all provide clues to what the environment was like in the past. Most interestingly for archaeologists, they can show us how people in the past were interacting with, modifying and exploiting the natural world. This talk will explore what archaeobotany is, how it is carried out and examine what it can be used to discover. In particular, the talk will look at how excavations in Abingdon have produced archaeobotanical data that can help piece together the environmental history of the town from prehistory to the present day.

Speaker: Julia Meen

Julia Meen has worked for Oxford Archaeology, a commercial archaeological unit, for over 10 years. As an archaeobotanist, she analyses the remains of plant tissues that have been preserved on archaeological sites, and uses this evidence to help interpret what the environment was like in the past. She has worked on sites across England and also in France, and her most recent projects have included studying waterlogged plant remains from the Oxford floodplain in advance of the new flood alleviation channel, and analysing kitchen remains from the Franciscan Friary uncovered during recent excavations on the site of the Westgate shopping centre. Julia studied for her BSc in Archaeology at the University of Reading before heading to Bristol University to undertake a Masters in Landscape Archaeology. In the past couple of years, she has returned to Reading to complete a part-time Masters by Research, as part of which she had the chance to explore her interest in how archaeobotanical remains can be used to identify brewing.



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01/2018: Space Engineering (M. Salter)

Place and Time: Abingdon, Thursday 18 Jan 2018 from 19:00 for 19:30

Barn Room, Crown and Thistle (18 Bridge St, Abingdon OX14 3HS)

TITLE: Space – The Ultimate Engineering Challenge

Scientists have learnt a huge amount about the universe using scientific instruments on spacecraft – from constant observation of the Sun with satellites such as the Solar Dynamics Observatory, to pioneering journeys to distant objects like Comet 67P with Rosetta and the Philae lander.  But getting to these places is only part of the challenge.  Doing cutting-edge science in the harsh environment of space – millions of miles away from Earth with no human intervention – is no small task.  The talk gives an insight into some of the technologies that help us discover our universe, and the engineering challenges that must be overcome to make it happen.


Mike Salter graduated from the University of Bristol and has spent the last 6 years working as an electronic design engineer at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory for STFC RAL Space.  Working alongside leading scientists and engineers, Mike has been responsible for the design and qualification of electronics for a range of spacecraft instrumentation including a low-noise UV spectrometer for the World Space Observatory and a visible-light camera currently installed on the International Space Station.  Most recently, Mike is now working to turn a novel method of gravitational sensing suitable for space flight, based on ultra-cold atom interferometry.

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12/2017: Christmas Social

We will meet on December 14, 2017 at 20:00 at the Brewery Tab for our annual Christmas Social. Please contact the secretary for tickets, which will also be on sale at our next events. Tickets will be £5 for members and non-members and cover some of the food during the evening. Drinks will be available for sale at the bar. A booking form is available in MSWord and PDF format.

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11/2017: AGM and Talk: Growing New Blood Vessels (K.H. Ang)

Place and Time: Abingdon, Thursday 16 Nov 2017  from 19:00 for 19:30

Barn Room, Crown and Thistle (18 Bridge St, Abingdon OX14 3HS)

Annual General Meeting

We will hold our AGM on this day. The agenda will be announced soon. This will be followed by a short talk.

TITLE: Flipping the Switch

Understanding Angiogenesis in order to treat diseases

Blood circulation is of paramount importance.  A healthy and intact vascular system is needed to ensure the proper functioning of cells, tissues and organs.  One of the key concepts in vascular biology is angiogenesis, which is the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones.  This process is tightly controlled by the balance of pro-angiogenic (switch on) and anti-angiogenic (switch off) factors in the system.  When this balance is disrupted, diseases can arise, such as cancer (where there is an oversupply of blood vessels) or diabetic foot ulcers (where there is an inadequate supply of blood vessels to support wound repairs).  Therefore, an understanding of this pathophysiological process is particularly crucial as it will allow us to manipulate this angiogenic switch as a form of medical intervention, by which means it is hoped we will be able to treat these diseases in the future.

Speaker: Koon Hwee Ang

Koon Hwee Ang is originally from Singapore. He graduated from an double degree program in Biomedical Sciences and Traditional Chinese Medicine, which is a joint program between Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) and Beijing University of Chinese Medicine (China). During his internship in China, he became interested in the study of blood vessels and was later given the government-administered scholarship to pursue a DPhil in Medical Oncology at the University of Oxford, studying blood vessels in tumors.  He is currently in his third year.

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