Faculty of Science and Technology Annual Public Lecture Series

8 October 2018 11:41
public lecture series

Learn about everything from the formation of the Himalayas to driverless cars with this year’s free public lectures given by Lancaster University academics at The Storey in Lancaster.

A celebration of global Dark Matter Day will mark the opening of this year’s lecture series on Wednesday 31st October, with experts from the Physics department delivering two lectures on the mystery of Dark Matter.

This year’s series is entitled ‘Impact’ and will feature the topics listed below.

To book a place at any of our free upcoming lectures please register using either the Eventbrite link below each lecture.

Wednesday 31st October (7-9pm)

Dark matter- does it even matter?

Join us at The Storey for an evening of talks, demos, sweets and more to help celebrate global Dark Matter Day.

Physicists Dr Ian Bailey and Dr David Sobral will deliver two lectures covering all things dark matter, from explaining why dark matter really matters in understanding why we are here, to the latest developments in the quest to detect dark matter on Earth.

This event is suitable for ages 14 plus.

Solving the mystery of our cosmic origins: why dark matter really matters

Dr David Sobral - Physics

Our quest to try to understand the Universe and where we come from has led humankind to spectacular discoveries. Our world view has changed multiple times and, every time we thought we had figured it all out, the Universe has proven us wrong. For most of our history, we have been oblivious to 80% of all matter in the Universe, simply because we cannot see it directly: dark matter. The range of evidence to support its existence is now over-whelming and, it turns out, dark matter is even responsible for us being here: it has played a crucial role in our cosmic origins. In this talk, we will travel through time and space, in order to shed light over the discovery and importance of dark matter, and how it ultimately led to stars, galaxies and our rich and diverse Universe.

Seeing the dark: detecting dark matter in the lab

Dr Ian Bailey - Physics

If our Universe is permeated with dark matter then it should be around us and passing through us all the time. Can it be detected in laboratories on Earth? What is dark matter actually made from? In this talk we will explore some of the possible constituents of dark matter. These hypothetical particles have been given names such as: WIMPS, axions and dark photons. We'll take a look at the diverse ways in which the physics community is attempting to search for these particles and to understand dark matter: a seemingly omnipresent and yet undetected component of our world.

Book tickets

Wednesday 7th November (7-8pm)

Do you want your car to be driven by a computer?

Professor Roger Kemp - Engineering

In the last 5 years, there has been increasing enthusiasm for autonomous vehicles (AVs). The claimed benefits include energy consumption, efficient use of infrastructure, fewer accidents and mobility for all. Last year, the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, told the BBC: ‘It will happen, I can promise you. It is happening already ... It is going to revolutionise our lives, it is going to revolutionise the way we work.’

However, evidence shows that managing safety is more difficult than many had hoped. There are also questions over AVs energy use and their effects on congestion. And many people, already worried that US “tech” companies like Google already know too much about our lives, question whether we want them also to have detailed inventories of everywhere we go.

Book tickets

Wednesday 14th November (7-8pm)

Under pressure: The psychology of decision-making during crises

Dr Nicola Power - Psychology

People make hundreds, if not thousands, of decisions every single day. From what clothes to put on in the morning to what time to go bed, decisions encompass almost every moment of human life. But what happens when decision-making goes beyond the day-to-day; when the choices you have to make can have catastrophic, even life-or-death, consequences? This is a daily challenge for those working in safety-critical environments – from medics through to emergency responders. This talk will explore the psychology of decision-making during crises, identifying what we know so far, and the important questions that remain.

Book tickets

Wednesday 28th November (7-8pm)

Self-Designing Software Systems

Dr Barry Porter - Computing and Communications

Modern software systems have become extremely complex, reaching tens of millions of lines of code, and are deployed into unknown environments with frequently changing conditions. Computer scientists have long sought to tackle this complexity, and in this lecture we reveal some of the latest research on software that takes responsibility for its own design. Using real-time machine learning, and a new kind of programming technology, we show how software can assemble itself from small building blocks – and can then observe and learn about its own behaviour in order to redesign itself to better suit the world around it. This technique can help reduce complexity in building software and also begins to redefine the relationship between humans and machines in achieving an objective - with humans offering guidance and creativity while the machine fills in the fine details.

Book tickets

Wednesday 5th December (7-8pm)

How do mountain belts form? The adventures of a Himalayan geologist.

Dr Yani Najman - Lancaster Environment Centre

Today the mountains of the Himalaya rise to over 8000 m. Yet sea shells have been found at the top of mount Everest, which shows that the rocks now located on the roof of the world, used to lie at the bottom of the ocean. So how did this mountain belt form, and what processes caused rocks formed at the sea bed to be pushed over 8km upwards? This lecture will look at how the Himalayas formed, and how geologists use information they collect in the field and lab to determine the ways in which our land evolved millions of years ago.

Book tickets

Back to News