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London Group announce compelling spring 2016 lecture series

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11 Jan 2016

It’s a new year and a new term of lectures for SCI’s London Group. The London Group lecture series* returns for the Spring Term at UCL on 12 January 2016 with Do Scientists Dream of Synthetic Sheep?

In this comedy lecture, previously performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Dr Jack Heal will give us a broad overview of the recent history and development of synthetic biology. Dr Heal will aim to go from the Human Genome Project to CRISPR (Clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats) in 50 minutes. Along the way he will consider important questions such as; What is a spider goat? Can we create artificial life? And why haven’t we created Jurassic Park yet?

In the following week, on 19 January, Nicholas Walt from L Cornellison & Sons Artists’ Colourmen will talk to us about pigments and dyes. On 26 January we have a special lecture for tea lovers. Katy Woollard, a tea specialist from Whittard of Chelsea, will address the questions; What is tea? Where does it come from and can anything be called a tea? She will cover different types of tea, looking into how each type is made. This will be concluded by a tasting, during which she will discuss how best to make a cup of tea using loose leaf and also address the argument ‘Loose vs Tea Bag!’

In February (2 February), Prof Johnjoe McFadden from the University of Surrey will explore the new science of Quantum Biology and will address the question; how fundamental are the weird aspects of quantum mechanics to life? He will be followed, on 9 February by Prof Steven Sparks (University of Bristol) who will give an address on some emerging concepts of volcanism. His lecture will include the understanding of cyclic volcanism, the nature of magma reservoirs and the role of magmatic fluids in driving volcanism. At the end of the month, on 23 February, Black Holes will be the subject of Prof Bureau’s talk. He will give us a background to black holes and the current methods to weigh them. Afterwards, he will present a new, conceptually simple but powerful method to measure black holes recently developed by his group which exploits the new Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA).

On 1 March, Dr Suze Kundo, a Teaching Fellow at the Department of Materials, Imperial College London, will talk about her research which focuses on materials that can capture solar energy. Astrobiologist and TED Fellow Dr Louisa Preston will be searching for extra terrestrials in her talk on 8 March. The lecture will steer us through the search for life in the Universe and explain how we use 'extreme' forms of life on Earth to guide us. She will then discuss the chances of finding intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe, the search for habitable planets in other distant solar systems, and the future for our exploration, and ultimately colonisation, of the cosmos.

We then move to the New York University in London (6 Bedford Square) for Prof Rich’s talk on Peter Mitchell and the Chemiosmotic Theory on 9 March. Prof Rich will describe the revolutionary Chemiosmotic Hypothesis, first suggested by Peter Mitchell in 1961, which explains the process of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) generation in the final stage of cellular respiration, namely oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondria. This lecture is also free to attend, but unlike the lectures at UCL, where there is no need to book, please ensure you register in advance to secure your place.

Moving back to UCL on 15 March, Prof Frank James will present on the life and work of Humphry Davy (1778 -1829). He will trace Davy's career from provincial obscurity as an apothecary's apprentice in Penzance, through to Superintendent of the Medical Pneumatic Institution in Bristol, to metropolitan fame as Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution and later as President of the Royal Society of London.

We round off the Spring Lecture Series with the CPS Presidential Lecture on 22 March, which will be given by Dr Tracey Clarke, CPS President and Lecturer in Physical Chemistry at UCL.

Please follow the London Group Events link and click on the individual events for more information and watch this space for further London Group event announcements, including the annual London Group Summer social event.

*Lectures are held in partnership with UCL’s Chemical & Physical Society and the New York University in London

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