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Science Week 2019

Watch our videos and read our blogs from past Science Weeks

Monday 24 June 2019

  • Dr Salvador Tomas: Synthesising Life (blog post and video) Abiogenesis is a hypothesis about the origin of life on earth. It assumes life arose spontaneously from non-living matter, a few billion years ago. To validate this hypothesis we need to reproduce abiogenesis, by synthesising life, in the laboratory. The talk focused on research into the development and study of protocells, which are produced in the laboratory as plausible ancestors of living cells and can be used as models to study abiogenesis. In the future, we'll be able to use this knowledge to create programmable, cell-like robots.

Tuesday 25 June 2019

  • Dr Iroise Dumontheil: The Adolescent Brain (blog post) Dr Dumontheil presented the research behind a short video created by two former Birkbeck PhD students. Her talk went on to explain how various brain networks, in particular those linked to emotional reactivity, the control of behaviours, and social interactions, continue to develop during adolescence.
  • Dr Emily Jones: Babies' Attention Skills. This live demonstration let Science Week visitors interact with the games used to train babies' attention skills in their homes, under the MQ-funded (Transforming Mental Health) study. Photos from Science Week 2019 album.

Wednesday 26 June 2019

  • Rosalind Franklin Lecture: Professor Emily Rayfield, University of Bristol: Engineering a dinosaur: how computational tools are reshaping our understanding of form and function in fossil animals (blog post and video) Fossils typically preserve only the mineralised tissues of the animal, soft tissues having long since rotted away, save for exceptional circumstances. In the absence of muscles and ligaments, how can scientists gain an understanding of how extinct animals functioned? In this talk, Professor Rayfield described how she and her lab used imaging analysis and computational tools more commonly used to design-test bridges and cars, to describe the function and capabilities of long dead animals, uncovering how dinosaurs fed, how tiny mammal jaws evolved and how the earliest terrestrial vertebrate adapted their skulls for the challenges of life on land.

Thursday 27 June 2019

  • Professor Ian Crawford: The New Science of Astrobiology and the Search for Life in the Universe (blog post) The talk summarised the new interdisciplinary science of astrobiology, beginning with the planetary and evolutionary context of life on Earth and its implications for finding life elsewhere. Building on this perspective, Professor Crawford considered the prospects for finding life, or evidence for past life, elsewhere in our Solar System, for example on the planet Mars and the icy moons of the outer solar system, before moving on to consider the potential habitability of planets recently discovered orbiting other stars. He reported that the ExoMars rover will be named after Rosalind Franklin, one of Birkbeck's most eminent scientists, whose work and life are celebrated in our annual lecture.