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Department of Physics

Saturday Morning Science 2018

A series of 22 exciting public talks from world-leading scientists across Durham University's Science departments, available on a range of dates*, every Saturday between 29th September - 1st December 2018, 2nd February - 30th March 2019 and 27th April - 11th May 2019. These will take place in the Calman Learning Centre.


• Saturdays at 10:30am, selected dates (see programme for details)
• No pre-booking needed
• 60 minute talks (45 mins plus questions)
• Coffee break at 11:30am
• Other activities after (e.g. lab tours)

3rd November

Two of a kind: are identical digital twins possible?

Dr. Camila Caiado, Bridget Rosewell OBE, and Edward Twiddy, Department for Mathematical Sciences

Digital twins are representations of processes and systems used to understand the real world. They are commonly used to optimize machines such as wind turbines, F1 cars and even robots like the NASA Mars rover. They can also be used to understand how people use buildings, how the heart works, and how a bank operates. The two basic components to creating your own digital twin are good data, and mathematical and statistical models to represent the object or process in question – all bundled in a system that can be easily used by the person making decisions. Let’s explore how a digital twin is designed and created, and how mathematics and statistics can help us make better decisions.

10th November

Geometry, Tessellations and Surfaces

Prof. John Parker, Professor of Geometry, Department of Mathematical Sciences

We can understand the geometry of surfaces by cutting them into flat pieces which fit together nicely. Taking lots of copies of these pieces we can reassemble them as a tessellation, or tiling. This makes geometry problems easier. On the other hand, we can sometimes reconstruct our surface by gluing some of the tiles of the tessellation together. But sometimes we can't do this... How do we decide?

17th November

Using cave deposits to reconstruct past and to predict future climate change

Dr James Baldini, Department of Earth Sciences

Caves have fascinated mankind since prehistoric times,
serving as shelters as well as being assigned numerous supernatural attributes. Over the last hundred years or so,
they have also attracted scientific enquiry, but never more
so than over the last two decades. Cave deposits are now
one of the leading sources of information regarding past
climate change, and in turn are hugely important for understanding what the climate might be like in the future.
In this talk we will explore how cave deposits, and caves in general, are used to answer fundamental scientific
questions, ranging from working out the cause of civilisation collapse to locating vast quantities of hidden carbon dioxide gas.

After the talk, there will be an opportunity to examine cave
deposits (stalagmite samples) from all over the world, and to
measure the carbon dioxide concentrations inside the Calman
Learning Centre. There will be the opportunity to discuss how cave deposits form, and how climate information is extracted from them.

24th November

The rough guide to seaweed, or, should we eat it, burn it, or wear it?

Dr. John Bothwell, Co-Director, Durham Energy Institute

"Vilior alga est" - "more worthless than seaweed" - wrote the Roman poet, Horace. But times have changed and we now know that our seaweeds form the foundations of life on our coastlines. But can they do any more than that?

This talk will describe how humans have used seaweeds in the past, and how we're planning to get even more from them in the future.

Image of the poster for Saturday Morning Science at Durham University