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Science Week 2014

Watch our videos and read our blogs from past events.

Saturday 28 June 2014

  • Science London film screenings
    • 'Health, lies and videotape. Just how much has health advice changed in the last 100 years?' This film screening explored the archives of public health announcements, with films from the 1930s to the present day, with commentary by experts who separated fact from fiction.
    • 1950s Sci-fi: The Gamma People (1956): This screening of a rarely-seen British cult classic will be introduced by Dr David Kirby, an expert on science in the cinema. The wonderfully low-budget feature has it all - a scientist-dictator, human experiments, Lederhosen - and yet is also rich in socio-political commentary.

Monday 30 June 2014

  • Lab tour: Cognitive neurofeedback demonstration: Measuring your brainwaves, led by Dr Eddy Davelaar. This lab tour demonstrated what cognitive neurofeedback is and how people can enhance their mental abilities through training their brainwaves.
  • Dr Atsushi Senju: 'Why is the development of face-to-face communication so important for babies?'Dr Senju's talk examined how we develop the capacity to make eye contact and what happens to the brain during this process. The lecture also discussed:
    • how babies start to make eye contact
    • how babies of blind parents develop face-to-face communication
    • how cultural background can affect how we make eye contact and the variation in these brain processes for those with autism.
  • Dr Iroise Dumontheil: 'Can mindfulness meditation training improve self-regulation in adolescents?' Adolescence is a period of changes in brain structure and function, in particular those regions that control self-regulation and attention. Dr Dumontheil's talk presented behavioural and neuroimaging evidence to show how mindfulness meditation training can lead to improved emotional regulation.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

  • Writing workshop led by Dr Richard Hamblyn: 'Science stories: Writing for a non-scientific audience.' The award-winning science writer led a science-themed writing workshop for those keen to explore writing about science for a non-scientific audience.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

  • X-ray Crystallography lab tour: What can crystals tell us about the molecular world? Participants viewed crystals on the microscope to detect diffraction patterns, electron density maps and 3D protein structures. The demonstration showed how protein crystals are grown and used to reveal their 3D structure, thereby helping us understand how they fold, interact and function as the machinery of the molecular world.
  • Dr Vitor Pinheiro: 'Redesigning biology: Engineering safer genetically-modified organisms.' This lecture discussed some of the recent developments in synthetic genetic materials (XNAs) and the engineering of the genetic code. It examined how life may have begun on Earth and how these advances can be used to further increase the safety of genetically modified organisms.
  • Professor David Moss and Professor Paul Barnes: Crystallography: 'The past and the future, always in fashion.' 2014 was the International Year of Crystallography and the Emeritus Professors, Paul Barnes and David Moss, from the Department of Biological Sciences, presented a lecture outlining the historical context for this research technology. Drawing on archival material, they described the role that Birkbeck played in the development and use of crystallography over the past 60 years.

Thursday 3 July 2014

  • Dr Martin Ingrouille (U3A Talk): 'The evolutionary secrets of your garden plants' (blog). Darwin studied flowers for 40 years and wrote three major books on plant reproduction. His theory was that the great structural variety of flowers is the outcome of natural selection from interactions with diverse pollinators. Dr Ingrouille's talk discussed Darwin's approach and showed how garden varieties of flowers have recently contributed to the study of molecular genetics and evolutionary development.
  • Professor Hilary Downes: 'What can asteroids tell us about the Earth?' Asteroids are formed of material left over from the early days of the Solar System and by studying them we gain insight into these origins. In October 2008 pieces of an unknown asteroid arrived on Earth as a spectacular fall in Sudan. This lecture examined the history of this particular asteroid and discussed what we can learn from it.
  • Professor Richard Cooper: 'The hidden complexities of routine behaviour.' Much of our everyday behaviour consists of routine sequences of actions, such as those concerned with dressing, grooming, and eating. This behaviour is subject to minor slips when our attention is diverted and to more bizarre disturbances as a result of some neurological injuries. This lecture considered how computer simulation techniques help us to understand the cognitive processes underlying routine action selection and its impairments.