04/2024: From Nano Magnets to Mega Magnets – Dr. Ben Bryant

Tuesday 16th April 2024 from 19:00 for 19:30
Abingdon United Football Club (Northcourt Rd, OX14 1PL, Abingdon)

How do magnets work? What are the largest, and the smallest magnets? How do we build super-powerful magnets – and why? In this talk Dr. Bryant will attempt to answer some of these questions via an eclectic tour of his own experience working in the world of magnets and magnetism. He will cover the basic physics of magnets, drawing insight from his work on nano-magnets – engineered assemblies of magnetic atoms, built one atom at a time! Then he will move to the other end of the scale and look at electromagnets and superconducting magnets – including some of the largest and most powerful magnets ever built – and how they are used in science and medicine.

Speaker: Dr. Ben Bryant

Dr. Bryant earned his PhD in Condensed Matter Physics at University College London, where he worked on low-temperature scanning probe microscopy of magnetic materials. As part of his postdoctoral research he moved to TU Delft in the Netherlands, where he worked on nano-magnetism. In 2015, Benjamin gained a research fellowship at the High Field Magnet Laboratory in Nijmegen, where he worked on scanning probe instrumentation, and other experiments, using their ultra-high-field magnets. In 2019, he moved into industry, and is now a senior development engineer at Oxford Instruments, where he works in research and development of superconducting magnets.

03/2024: The Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine and Beyond – Professor Cath Green OBE (ATOM Festival Peagram Lecture)

Tuesday 19th March 2024 from 19:00 for 19:30
Amey Theatre (Abingdon School, Park Rd, Abingdon OX14 1DE)

Our March event is the headline ATOM Festival Peagram Lecture – The Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine and Beyond – Professor Cath Green OBE. Society members are entitled to free entry to this exciting talk.

For more information on this particular event, please visit the Festival website.

Speaker: Professor Cath Green OBE

Catherine Green OBE is an Associate Professor in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford. She heads the Clinical BioManufacturing Facility, where her mission is to translate innovative academic ideas into real world treatments.

During the COVID-19 pandemic Professor Green was part of the Oxford team who developed the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

02/2024: What You Leave Behind: A Look At the Physical Evidence Encountered in Forensic Science – Rachel Hewetson

Tuesday 20th February 2024 from 19:00 for 19:30
Abingdon United Football Club (Northcourt Rd, OX14 1PL, Abingdon)

‘Every contact leaves a trace’. This was the principle formulated by French Criminalist, Edmund Locard, in the 1910s and is still the foundation of forensic science today. When a crime is committed things change; people are hurt, household objects are touched, windows are broken, marks are deposited, paint is smeared. The opportunity to understand what has changed can come in any form.

Everyone knows about DNA and the amazing tool it has become in criminal investigation, but what else can be found and processed at a crime scene? What does finding a paint flake or an unknown liquid or a footprint on a window ledge mean and what can it offer investigators? This talk will explore the non-DNA side of forensic science and how everyday objects can provide significant evidence in a case.

Speaker: Rachel Hewetson

Rachel Hewetson is a forensic reporting scientist with Cellmark Forensic Service. She has been working as a forensic scientist since 2006, firstly with Eurofins Scientific (then LGC Forensics) and, since 2012, with Cellmark Forensic Services. She specialises in DNA, blood, marks and glass evidence and is the Science Lead for Marks Evidence at Cellmark’s Abingdon Laboratory. Rachel also has extensive experience in the photographic enhancement of marks and is an experienced expert witness, having presented evidence in Crown and Magistrates Court on numerous occasions across the UK.

Rachel earned a first class honours degree in Chemistry from University College Dublin, Ireland, and a Master’s Degree in Forensic Science from University Strathclyde, Glasgow.

01/2024: Building Particle Detectors for the LHC and Beyond – Dr. Sam Henry

Tuesday 16th January 2024 from 19:00 for 19:30
Abingdon United Football Club (Northcourt Rd, OX14 1PL, Abingdon)

ATLAS Detector Minecraft modelOver the last fifty years, as physicists have deciphered the nature of sub-atomic particles and pieced together the Standard Model of Particle Physics, the size of the experiments needed has grown bigger and bigger. The construction of the gigantic detectors now used to study proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider is a formidable endeavour, involving teams of thousands and scientists and engineers. I will tell the story of how these ‘cathedrals’ of our age are built. Join me for a virtual tour of the ATLAS detector, with the aid of a Minecraft model, to see the components used to identify, track, and measure the hundreds of particles flying out from the beam collision point, and thus piece together a picture of the processes going on, and search for the signature of new phenomena.

The scale of such projects mean we may have now reached the limit. While we can design even larger experiments, we must also ask whether this is the right direction to take, and could another route to search for answers about fundamental forces and particles be a better option. The future direction of particle physics is now an open question, with proposals for machines even larger than the LHC, but no clarity on which, if any, of these will happen. I will discuss different ways to search for New Physics, and the speculation about the future of our quest after the LHC era.

Speaker: Dr. Sam Henry

Dr Sam HenryDr Sam Henry is a Detector Development Scientist at the University of Oxford. He works on instrumentation for high-energy physics experiments, including the planned upgrade of the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider and the ePIC detector for the future Electron Ion Collider at Brookhaven, New York. Over the last twenty years, he has worked on projects including the readout for a dark matter search, and magnetometers for precision measurements of fundamental particles and geophysics. He also runs particle physics public engagement activities at Oxford and can be found at the ATOM Festival Science Market, enthusing about particle physics with the aid of Lego bricks and soft toys.

11/2023: Artificial Intelligence: Revolutionising Design and Journalism?

Tuesday 21st November 2023 from 19:00 for 19:30
Abingdon United Football Club (Northcourt Rd, OX14 1PL, Abingdon)

Please note our move to the third Tuesday of the month for 2023

Note: This talk will be preceded by a short AGM.

(Generative) AI such as ChatGPT and DALL:E promise to radically alter how “the news gets made” and how modern journalism works – with unknown effects for the public sphere and democracy. What are we to make of these claims and promises? And what will the journalism of the future look like? This talk will provide some tentative answers to these questions, based on four years’ worth of research at international news organisations.

Speakers: Maggie Mustaklem & Felix M. Simon

Maggie Mustaklem

Maggie Mustaklem is a design lead and doctoral researcher focusing on the implications of AI in design. Maggie’s research project, Design Interrupted, centres on the “everyday AI” in platforms like Pinterest, Instagram (and increasingly generative tools) that designers and architects use to search for inspiration. She is interested in how these tools may be flattening what designers see for inspiration, influencing what they ultimately produce. Maggie holds a Master of Arts in History of Design from the Royal College of Art and Victoria & Albert Museum and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Michigan.


Felix M. Simon

Felix M. Simon

Felix M. Simon is a communication researcher and doctoral student at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), where he has been researching the effects of AI in journalism and the news industry for the last four years.  Felix has published and presented at a number of leading journals and conferences and has co-authored various research reports and papers on topics ranging from innovation in the media to COVID-19 misinformation. His research and commentary has appeared, among others, in The Guardian, The Washington Post, Politico, and the Financial Times and he has given evidence to inquiries of the UK House of Lords and House of Commons, press regulator IMPRESS, and the United Nations. In May 2023, he was awarded the Hans Bausch Media Prize by German public broadcaster SWR in cooperation with the Institute for Media Studies at the University of Tübingen for his work on AI, news, and platform companies. Felix is a Knight News Innovation Fellow at Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, and an affiliate at the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also works as a research assistant at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ). He graduated with a BA in Film and Media Studies as well as English Studies (Distinction) from Goethe-University Frankfurt, and he holds an MSc in Social Science of the Internet from the OII. He is currently a fellow at the Salzburg Global Seminar and an Associate Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy and sits on the AI and Local News Steering Committee of Partnership on AI.