London Group Spring 2017 Lectures

The London Group's lecture series, in partnership with UCL's Chemical & Physical Society, returns for a new term on Tuesday 10 January 2017, with Deeper than the Titanic, Hotter Than Molten Lead: exploring hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor.

In this lecture, Dr John Copley, University of Southampton, will explore the diversity of hydrothermal vents (first discovered more than 40 years ago) on the sea-floor, ‘visiting’ vent fields discovered by recent UK expeditions.

Copley’s lecture will be followed on 17 January with a talk on Elastomeric Products - Applications & Markets. Dr Alexander Celik, Managing Director of the Rosehill Polymers Group, specialists in the development and manufacture of coatings, adhesives, sealants, elastomers, and moulded rubber products, will provide an overview into the key markets of, and applications for, their materials. He will also introduce us to the recent disruptive innovations into the elastomerics field.

On 24 January, Dr Stephen Brown’s Human Beings and Life on Earth will address climate change and how a growing human population continues to grow, conversely the population of many animal species is falling rapidly. He will emphasise that we cannot go on ignoring these problems but need to accelerate our actions to address them. At the end of January (31 January), we will take a tour of UCL’s Grant Museum of Zoology. The Grant Museum is the only remaining university zoological museum in London and houses around 68,000 specimens, covering the whole animal kingdom. From the only four legged quagga in existence, to more dead marsupials than you can shake a stick at, there is enough formaldehyde to make David Hurst envious! A half hour talk will be followed by a wine reception, giving you a chance to wander around and look at the specimens.

In February (07 February) we will have the first of our drug-related talks. Prof Alan Dronsfield, University of Derby, will cover the Chemical, Medical and Social History of Cocaine and what led it to becoming classified as a Class 1 Dangerous Drug. He will conclude with a brief consideration of the harm cocaine does to society, contrasting this 'harm' with the damage done by the consumption of other chemical agents such as alcohol, tobacco, LSD and other drugs. After a week’s break, we will hold a wine tasting evening on 21 February. Dr Stephen Potts, UCL, will share his passion for wine and host a tasting session in the name of science. At the end of the month, on 28 February, Mike Jay, guest curator at the Wellcome Collection, will present his lecture on Mind-Altering Drugs in History and Culture. Exploring the spectrum of mind-altering substances across the globe and throughout history, he will trace the story from the traditional use of plant intoxicants to global trade and the development of pharmacy. Finally, he will examine how the cultural meaning of 'drugs' has been altered in the process.

On 07 March, preceding the evening lecture at UCL, the London Group will be hosting a lunch and guided tour of the Wellcome Collection. This will be a unique chance to explore the Library's collections with an expert guide. After the tour you will have the opportunity to visit the permanent Medicine Man Exhibition, and new touring exhibition ‘Electricity: The spark of life’. Later that evening, Dr Simon Werrett will give his talk on Household Oeconomy and Chemical Inquiry, 1760-1840, at UCL. He will propose that much chemical inquiry took place in adapted spaces in this period, such as the home, and was shaped by domestic notions of oeconomy, the proper social and material management of the household. Oeconomy proposed that householders should care for material culture in the home, balancing the use of old goods with the purchase of new, and stewarding possessions through care, maintenance and repairs. A picture of chemical experimentation in this period then emerges, in which the re-use of old things was as significant a part of chemistry as the invention or consumption of new. The history of oeconomic chemistry offers potential insights into the future sustainability of experimentation.

Modern History of Medicine, will be presented by Dr Viviane Quirke, Oxford Brookes University, on 14 March. Dr Quirke is a senior lecturer in modern history and the history of medicine. Her specialist teaching focuses on the history of medical knowledge, practice, and associated technologies, while her broader teaching considers the wider socio-economic and political context within which they developed, in particular the expansion of the medical market and the evolution of modern warfare.

The last UCL lecture of the Spring term will take place on 21 March. Chemical and Physical Society President, Dr Caroline Knapp, will give a talk on Illegal Street Drugs. She will present 'A Chemistry Undergraduate's Guide to all Things Intoxicating’ and take a look at the chemistry behind alcohol and illegal street drugs and what dangers they may hold. She will discuss the moral and legal implications and what the future could bring.

All events held at UCL are free, and there is no need to book (except where specified). Please follow the London Group Events link below, and click on the individual events for more information. Watch this space for further London Group event announcements, including the annual London Group Summer social event and a lecture by the 1997 Nobel prize winner in Chemistry, Prof John Walker, which will be held at the New York University in London, later this year.

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