Pint of Science festival brings the latest research to the public

the rings of Saturn © NASA, ESA, and Amy Simon (NASA-GSFC); Image Processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)
The rings of Saturn

Researchers from Lancaster University are taking part in the world’s largest festival of public science talks which will see scientists take to the stage in 38 cities across the UK.

Three events in Lancaster and Morecambe on May 22-24 are all part of The Pint of Science festival across the UK, which will see thousands of scientists and industry professionals bring their research out of their workplace and into a pub, café or community hall.

Lancaster Physicists will be talking about geomagnetic storms, planetary auroras and the search for dark matter on May 22 in Morecambe. Book your ticket here.

Psychologists will be giving talks on May 23 at an event in Lancaster. Book your ticket here; The art of enchanting the brain | Pint of Science

There is a third event on May 24 in Lancaster focussing on the body ; book your ticket here Body etiquette | Pint of Science

Below is a list of the various talks, beginning with May 22.

In the Eye of the Geomagnetic Storm: Living Inside a Gigantic Particle Accelerator

Dr Maria Walach, Senior Research Associate, Lancaster University

In the magnetic field that surrounds Earth, thousands of satellites are in orbit, providing the basis for GPS navigation and satellite internet. The number of launched satellites is growing rapidly, with over 1000 launched in 2022 alone, but they are vulnerable. A strong geomagnetic storm can knock satellites out of orbit, causing them to crash down to Earth. In this talk, I will uncover how space weather happens, how it affects our technologies and what we can do about it.

Searching for dark matter using quantum technology

Professor Edward Laird, Professor of Experimental Physics, Lancaster University

Dark matter makes up eighty percent of every galaxy’s mass. We can see its effects, but its composition remains a mystery. Axions are a promising candidate. These hypothetical particles formed shortly after the Big Bang, congregated in galaxies, and now pass with barely a trace through ordinary matter. To find out if axions exist, the tiny signals they create interacting with our detectors need amplifying. This talk explains how quantum mechanics sets an ultimate limit on the sensitivity that any amplifier can achieve - and how quantum technology also gives us a way to evade that limit.

Spying on Saturn’s ethereal auroras with the Hubble Space Telescope

Dr Joe Kinrade, Research Fellow in the Space & Planetary Physics group, Lancaster University

Saturn is a bright neighbour of ours in the night sky, known for its icy rings. But this gas giant also displays powerful ultraviolet auroras at its polar regions, invisible to the naked eye. Dr Joe Kinrade, a research fellow at Lancaster University’s Space & Planetary Physics group, presents a tourist’s guide to Saturn’s auroras and how we image them from afar using the Hubble Space Telescope and Cassini spacecraft mission

10 Years of Higgs boson discovery and Nobel prize

Dr Harald Fox, Senior Lecturer at Lancaster University

The Higgs boson discovery at the LHC at CERN has been in the making for 48 years. It is a story of bright ideas, many puzzle pieces that finally fit together, many failed attempts and finally the discovery, the crowning success of perseverance. This talk will highlight the essential role of the Higgs boson in our understanding of physics laws, why it is so exceptional and how it was finally discovered.

Psychologists from Lancaster University will also be giving talks on May 23 at an event in Lancaster. Book your ticket here; The art of enchanting the brain | Pint of Science

Taking a hands-on approach: How handedness impacts our perception

Rachael Taylor PhD student, Lancaster University

Our world offers us countless opportunities for interaction, a concept known as ‘affordances’. To successfully interact with affordances, we must accurately perceive the relationship between our bodies and the world around us. However, the perception of our bodies is not always true to reality – that is, we can experience biases towards certain parts of our body. This talk will address how we explore affordance perception using virtual reality, focusing on how right-handers experience the world through the lens of right-handedness.

“Look, a blicket!” How do young children learn the meanings of unfamiliar words?

Dr Calum Hartley Senior Lecturer, Lancaster University

Learning language is one of the most important and celebrated milestones of child development. Understanding words underpins our ability to communicate and navigate the social world. However, word learning is deceptively complex – young children hear thousands of words per day and their world is full of unfamiliar things. So, how do they figure out which words refer to which objects? And is word learning simply a case of identifying meaning? In this presentation, I’ll explain how developmental psychology has answered these questions.

The Neuroscience of Speech and Action

NoSA lab Neuroscience of Speech and Action Laboratory)


The Neuroscience of Speech and Action (NoSA) Lab investigates research questions surrounding how speech, action, and cognition are represented in the brain, and how they change as a function of healthy ageing. To answer these questions, we use a variety of methods, including brain stimulation and brain imaging, as well as by measuring behaviour. Researchers from the NoSA lab will discuss their respective projects, and the importance of furthering our understanding of how our brains process the sensory information that we encounter in our dynamic everyday environment.

The unconscious mind

Tom Beesley Senior Lecturer at Lancaster University

Across many fields in psychology, there has been a persistent suggestion that our behaviour is influenced by powerful unconscious processes. In this talk, I will focus on the field of human learning. A dominant theory suggests that humans have two learning systems: one system of learning that is conscious, rational, and effortful, which results in consciously accessible knowledge; the second system is thought to be reflexive, automatic, and the knowledge is acquired unconsciously. I will explore some of the weird and wonderful ways that people have tested this.

There is a third event on May 24 in Lancaster with Body etiquette | Pint of Science where you can book your ticket.

Interacting systems of the human body

Juliane Bjerkan PhD Student, Nonlinear and Biomedical Physics, Lancaster University

Samuel Barnes PhD Student, Nonlinear and Biomedical Physics, Lancaster University

Did you know that as you are reading these words your heart rate is fluctuating? When you breathe in your heart tends to beat quicker, and as you breathe out the heart rate slows down. This is an example of an interaction occurring within our bodies. Join Sam and Juliane as they explore various cycles and interactions within the human body focusing on the brain and the cardiovascular system. Learn how these interactions are affected by diseases and conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and autism spectrum disorder.

Good cholesterol

Dr Sophie Lau Postdoctoral Researcher at Lancaster University

Have you ever thought about why “good cholesterol” is beneficial? How do we know when “good cholesterol” has gone bad? Cardiovascular diseases are a prominent health issue, which can be caused by “bad cholesterol” deposits in our arteries. “Good cholesterol” acts as a vehicle to transport “bad cholesterol” out of plaques in our arteries for recycling or removal from the body. Let’s explore the techniques used to understand the structure and function of “good cholesterol” and how this could benefit us.

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