01/2019: Galaxies & Black Holes (R. Davies)

Place and Time: Abingdon, Thursday 17 January 2019 from 19:00 for 19:30

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

TITLE: Galaxies & Black Holes

Using Hubble Space Telescope and giant ground based telescopes we have discovered supermassive black holes, with masses ranging from millions to billions times the mass of the Sun, at the very centre of massive galaxies. In this talk I will show how we measure the masses black holes and go on to reveal the close relationship between black holes and the evolution of the galaxies that host them. In exploring this question we will discover an unexpected twist in the story of galaxy evolution.

Speaker:  Roger Davies

Roger Davies is the Philip Wetton Professor and Director of the Hintze Centre for Astrophysical Surveys at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Christ Church.

He grew up in an industrial town in the north of England attending the local grammar school and going on to read Physics at University College London. He started research working on galaxy dynamics in Cambridge in the 1970s after which he moved to California before spending 6 years on the staff of the US National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. As part of the “7 Samurai” team he worked out a new way of measuring the distances to galaxies and discovered the “Great Attractor”, a huge concentration of galaxy clusters in the southern sky. He moved to Oxford in 1988 to lead the UK’s participation in the construction of the 8m Gemini telescopes, in Hawaii and Chile. In 1994 he took up the post of Professor of Astronomy at Durham University returning to Oxford in 2002 where he was Head of the Physics Department from 2005-10. He is the founding Director of the Hintze Centre for Astrophysical Surveys. He was President of the Royal Astronomical Society 2010-12, is a Fellow of University College London, and holds an Honorary Degree from Claude Bernard University in Lyon, France. He is currently President of the European Astronomical Society.

He has a long standing commitment to engaging the public in science and has lectured widely on modern astronomy including on the Cunard Queen Mary 2 liner. He has also led trips to see the Northern Lights and the 2017 total eclipse. His research interests centre on cosmology and how galaxies form and evolve. He has observed at many of the world’s leading observatories including those in the Canary Islands, Hawaii, Chile, Australia and the United States. He has also been involved in the development of new astronomical instruments & telescopes. In recent years he has pioneered the use of a new class of astronomical spectrograph to measure the masses and ages of galaxies, as well as search for black holes in their nuclei.

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11/2018: AGM & Talk: Quest for Beef Replacement (M. Springmann)

Place and Time: Abingdon, Thursday 15 November 2018 from 19:00 for 19:30

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

TITLE: The Quest for the Best Beef Replacement

Livestock is a major driver of climate change, and red meat (including beef, lamb and pork) has recently been declared as likely carcinogenic by the cancer agency of the World Health Organisation. Against this backdrop, I evaluate a range of potential meat alternatives from nutritional, health, climate change, and affordability perspectives. The alternatives include traditional replacements based on legumes, nuts, tofu and wheat-based products, and also more recent products based on algae, jackfruit, fungus-based mycoprotein, and edible insects.

Speaker: Marco Springmann

Marco is a senior researcher in the Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention in the Nuffield Department of Population Health, and leads the Centre’s programme on environmental sustainability and public health. He is interested in the health, environmental, and economic dimensions of the global food systems. He often uses systems models to provide quantitative estimates on food-related questions. He is currently working on a multidisciplinary project focused on the analysis and management of animal products and their substitutes called “Livestock, Environment and People” (LEAP). (http://www.futureoffood.ox.ac.uk/project/future-meat-and-dairy-fomad)

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10/2018: Deciphering the Past with Accelerators (J. Dopke)

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

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

TITLE: Deciphering the Past with Accelerators

In 1709, digging of a well near Mount Vesuvius brought up some old statues at large depth. This discovery led to major excavations happening around what was discovered to be the city of Herculaneum, covered during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. Particular interest fell onto a library discovered within the excavation site, holding hundreds of carbonised scrolls from the time of the volcanoes eruption. These well preserved artefacts may well hold secrets, we cannot otherwise know of, as few other libraries from the time are preserved to this day. 

Though much effort has gone into physical or “metaphysical” opening of these scrolls, to date there seems to be no viable method of making these objects accessible to scholars without destructive action. Within my presentation I will give insight into what has been done so far, and what is currently being looked at to make these objects readable through use of modern day physics and computing, as well as some of the unexpected challenges one faces when trying to make 2000 year old material readable.

Speaker : Jens Dopke

A physicist by trade I started studying at the University of Wuppertal, Germany in 2001. Given an interest in particle physics, I started early on development of electronics and systems providing for particle physics related measurements. This led on to me being considered an expert in design/installation/operation and after finishing my PhD on detector electronics development, I moved on to CERN, Geneva, to support operation and upgrade of the ATLAS Detector through the years of 2011-2014.

Currently I hold a staff position at STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Chilton, working on future tracking detectors for the ATLAS experiment, as well as general technology R&D for future detector systems. On the side I invest time into my pet project, making ancient scrolls readable through use of modern day, non-destructive imaging.

In my spare time I like to teach maths at St. John’s College, Oxford, and demonstrate in undergraduate electronics labs. When all that is over, I tend to my relationship which usually involves a lot of hiking, favourably in the Scottish highlands, followed by a glass of single malt.

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09/2018: Chinese Medicine (K.H. Ang)

Place and Time: Abingdon, Thursday 20 September 2018 from 19:00 for 19:30

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

TITLE: Demystifying Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine has a history of more than 3000 years. The practice of this ancient art of healing is prominent in China, Japan, Korea, South East Asia and is also gaining popularity in the USA, UK and Europe. Much has been mentioned about validating Chinese Medical theories and practices using robust scientific approaches and clinical trials. It is vital to understand the philosophy of Chinese Medicine to enable better comprehension of its practices. In this talk, I aim to demystify Traditional Chinese Medicine, in the hope allowing us to see the science of this ancient wisdom and I will also illustrate the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine in modern medical practices and scientific pursuits.

Speaker: Koon Hwee Ang

Koon Hwee Ang is originally from Singapore. He graduated from a 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 tumours. He is currently in his final year.

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