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Ustinov College

Cafe Scientifique

"Cafe Scientifique is a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. Meetings take place in cafes, bars, restaurants and even theatres, but always outside a traditional academic context." 

At a Cafe Scientifique, you don't come just for a public lecture, but to participate in a public conversation. Anyone is welcome to come along and join in. A main speaker presents on a topic in science and technology, then there's a break for tea and coffee, followed by a discussion on the topic of the day.

There are a number of Cafe Scientifiques throughout the UK and in many other countries. Cafe Scientifique in Durham takes place at Ustinov College, and is affiliated to the Ustinov Seminar.

Ustinov College is next to the Howlands Farm Park & Ride and is number 52 on the online map. When you reach the turning at the traffic lights on South Road, follow the driveway all the way to the end. You'll see a black sign with the Ustinov College crest. Fisher House is the building just behind the sign. 

N.B. The Park & Ride closes at 7 p.m., so parking there is not advised.


Tuesday 10th March

In the final Café Scientifique of the term we are investigating vision: from colour perception to how cameras can be used to replace our eyes in extreme environments. In the first talk Pen-Yuan Hsing, a PhD student from the Biology department, will show us how cameras can be used in the deep-sea to study corals. Dr Bob Kantridge, of the Psychology department, will then unravel the infamous #dressgate debate and explain once and for all what colour that dress really is! This promises to be an eye-opening (pun intended!) evening of talks.

Yuan Hsing - Vision

NASA tested, household approved

Tuesday 10th February 2015

From golf balls to mobile phones, NASA technology has slowly found its way into our homes and everyday lives. Astronomical research often seeks the answers to questions such as "Where did we come from?" and "Are we alone in the Universe?". At first glance you’d think there wouldn’t be any household products to come from such fundamental research. But you’d be wrong! In this talk Dr. Bruno Dias shows that whilst spinoff products aren’t the objective of
astronomical research, they are often a secondary consequence. Bruno will be telling the story of three such products and their original applications.

For information:

Dr Bruno Dias - NASA tested, household approved

The Solar Revolution

20th January, 6pm

In the first Café Scientifique of the new term we are investigating the rise of solar technology. Andrew Messenger, team principal of the Durham Solar Car project, will be discussing the considerations involved in designing a solar racing car. We’ll be learning how fast you travel using only the power of a kettle and why the car looks like a spaceship! Marc Etherington, a PhD student from the University of Cambridge, will be giving an update on the promising field of organic photovoltaic cells. With renewable energy regularly making the national news, this promises to be an insightful evening of discussion discussion.

The Solar Revolution

Wanted dead and alive: the Quantum Universe

2nd December 2014

In our day-to-day lives the world around us seems entirely deterministic, yet as we observe smaller and smaller systems, things start to get weird. In this Café Scientifique we will examine many of the puzzles of quantum mechanics: why are atoms almost empty, are electrons particles or waves, how does quantum theory tie in with gravity, and just what does an elephant on roller skates have to do with anything? We’ll be putting on a night of interactive talks, introducing quantum mechanics from the ground up. In the process we’ll find out how to produce otherwise unobtainable states of matter and what a quantum computer is?

The Quantum Universe - Featuring: Stefan Kemp, Arin Mizouri & Alex Peach

The Gender Divide in Science

13 November 2014

For our second event of the term Café Scientifique investigates the gender divide in science-is it there and if so what can be done to overcome it?

To examine this topic we will be hearing from two speakers. Our first speaker Ms Ebi Leak, a PhD candidate in the School of Education, will be discussing how gender impacts learning in the physical sciences. Our second speaker, Dr Jennifer Salmond from the University of Auckland, will be asking what gender equality looks like in science, why we might want gender equality, and how we can achieve equality. The debate on gender imbalance regularly making national news, this promises to be a fascinating and very topical evening of discussion.


The Gender Divide in Science - Ebi Leak

Killer Weather

30 October 2014

In the first Cafe Scientifique of the new term we examine how extreme heat impacts human health and how society might manage the risks of such effects.

Professor Glenn McGregor will be addressing topics including thermo-physiology, how scientists describe or quantify heat stress, the climate mechanisms associated with extreme heat events, relationships between heat and health, and many more! The audience will learn of the interactions between climate and society, and how the later may adapt to manage the risks posed.

Killer Weather - Glenn McGregor