What we're about

Explore the latest ideas in science and technology in a relaxed, informal atmosphere. Meetings are free and open to anyone with an interest in science and technology, subjects which have a profound impact on all of our everyday lives.

We have two types of event - the 'traditional' evening science cafe and a new lunchtime meeting.

Evening science cafes have a simple, but flexible, format: The invited speaker gives a short introduction to the evening’s topic, we take a break for refreshments and pondering, followed by an hour of questions and discussion. Everyone is welcome to ask a question or make a comment, and this is a fantastic opportunity to debate and contemplate often-controversial issues with leading experts in their field.

Lunchtime events are smaller and more informal - a meeting of interested people without, necessarily, an 'expert' on hand to put us right. Topics are published beforehand and you are encouraged to read up in advance.

You don’t need to be a scientist! Just come with an open and enquiring mind.

Upcoming events (5)

How will 5G make Bristol a Smart City?

Zed Alley

Our speaker, Dimitra Simeonidou, is a Full Professor at the University of Bristol, the Co-Director of the Bristol Digital Futures Institute and the Director of Smart Internet Lab. Her research is focusing in the fields of high performance networks, programmable networks, wireless-optical convergence, 5G/B5G and smart city infrastructures. She is increasingly working with Social Sciences on topics of digital transformation for society and businesses. Dimitra has been the Technical Architect and the CTO of the smart city project Bristol Is Open. She is currently leading the Bristol City/Region 5G urban pilots. She is the author and co-author of over 500 publications, numerous patents and several major contributions to standards. She has been co-founder of two spin-out companies, the latest being the University of Bristol VC funded spin-out Zeetta Networks, http://www.zeetta.com, delivering SDN solutions for enterprise and emergency networks. Dimitra is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a Royal Society Wolfson Scholar. -------------------------------------------------------------- Science Cafes are free events with no booking required. BUT, it's the first time we've used Meetup, so if you've signed up but can't come, do let me know. I'll send a reminder email closer to the event. Organiser: Bob Foster - feel free to contact me with any questions on[masked]

Afternoon Science Foray - Climate Change: Is There Any Reason For Scepticism?

Following on from our Science Foray about the Gaia hypothesis, this is another small-scale event (maybe eight people) without a topic speaker. The idea is that a few people who may or may not be specialists in relevant areas, but who are scientifically informed or interested, get together to discuss the key issues. The title should really spell out that we're talking here about climate change caused by the activities of mankind - but there's a limit to how long event titles can be. The venue is the cafe at Illustrate in Park Street. It would really help maintain the goodwill of the people at Illustrate if attendees would think about buying a coffee or a piece of cake. The start time for this event is 2 pm in the hope that the cafe will be a bit quieter than it was last time - when the start time was 12 noon. Here are three books which summarise the mainstream view of global warming: Gribbin, John, Hothouse Earth, Bantam Press 1990. Maslin, Mark, Global Warming - A Very Short Introduction, 3rd edition, OUP 2014. Maslin, Mark, Climate - A Very Short Introduction, OUP, 2013. The main international body concerned with the study of global warming is the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Here is a link to their web page: https://www.ipcc.ch/ One of the leading centres for the study of climate change is the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. Here is the relevant Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climatic_Research_Unit Another very relevant book is the following: Black, Richard, Denied: The Rise and Fall of Climate Contrarianism, The Real Press, 2018. This is a journalist's account of the main arguments used by climate sceptics - though the author himself is definitely not a sceptic. A useful account of the story so far is given. Here are two books definitely written from the sceptical viewpoint: Lawson, Nigel, An Appeal to Reason, Gerald Duckworth and Co., 2009. Marohasy, Jennifer (ed.), Climate Change: The Facts 2017, Connor Court Publishing, 2017. Among the more prominant sceptics are the Australian Prof. Ian Plimer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Plimer#Views_on_climate_change), Nigel Lawson, the late Christopher Booker (author of The Seven Basic Plots), science writer and peer Matt Ridley (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Ridley#Climate_change_scepticism), and (of course) Donald Trump (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Donald_Trump#Climate_change_and_pollution). Wikipedia has a list of sceptical scientists (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_who_disagree_with_the_scientific_consensus_on_global_warming). Nigel Lawson was instrumental in funding a sceptical body called The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). Here is a link to the GWPF's website: http://www.thegwpf.org/ and here is a link to the relevant Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Warming_Policy_Foundation Specific incidents in the story of climate change scepticism include the controversy in 2009 caused by the release of a set of e-mails hacked from the Climatical Research Unit (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climatic_Research_Unit_email_controversy) and an earlier episode known as the Hockey Stick Controversy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hockey_stick_controversy). A great deal hinges on the temperature measurements made over the years by cimate scientists (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instrumental_temperature_record). One of the best-known sets of temperature measurements is the HadCRUT dataset (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HadCRUT) maintained by the Met Office's Hadley Centre and the CRU at the University of East Anglia. That data can be downloaded in various formats here: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcrut4/data/current/download.html

Under pressure: are we running out of water?

Water is essential to sustain human society. Establishing a reliable water supply has historically gone hand in hand with the socio-economic development of any country. However, in a world where human population has exceeded 7 billion, and water sources are increasingly threatened by pollution and climate change, are we going to have enough water for all? And what are the effects of our "hydraulic mission” on the natural environment? How are water, energy and food production connected and shaped by one another? In this discussion, we will explore these questions by looking at both global trends and specific examples of river basins experiencing increasing level of water stress and conflicts over water. About our speaker: Francesca Pianosi is a senior lecturer in water & environment engineering at the University of Bristol. Her research aims to support a more sustainable management of water resources by improving the way water infrastructures are planned and managed. To achieve this, she develops mathematical models that policy makers and water resource managers can use to anticipate the effects of different planning and operational options, and hence make more informed decisions. She has contributed to and led research projects around water manager management in Italy, the Netherlands, the UK, and Vietnam. ---------------------------------------------------- Find us, Bristol Science Cafe, on Twitter @brisandbath_sci on Facebook at- https://www.facebook.com/brisandbathsci/ Our venue: We have a super new venue - Zed Alley on Host Street in Bristol city centre - having had to change from our normal Greenbank Pub in Easton. https://www.facebook.com/zedalleybristol/ Science Cafes are free events with no booking required. BUT, we are new to using Meetup, so if you've signed up but can't come, do let me know. I'll send a reminder email closer to the event. Organiser: Bob Foster - feel free to contact me with any questions on[masked] or [masked]

Afternoon Science Foray - Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics

The idea of this event is for a group of scientifically informed or interested people to get together - without any of them necessarily being a specialist - to discuss the various 'interpretations' of quantum mechanics which have been proposed (Copenhagen interpretation, many-worlds interpretation, etc.). It is intended to avoid maths totally if possible - partly by modelling the discussion on that given in John Gribbin's recent book Six Impossible Things. The discussion may well start from the question of just what we mean by an 'interpretation' in this context. I'll be posting some relevant links and other materials here in good time for the event. In essence, quantum mechanics is a mathematical formalism which makes accurate predictions about physical processes occuring at the scale of atoms, nuclei and fundamental particles. Because it is 'just' a mathematical formalism it (arguably) give no explanation of what nature is actually doing in the processes it makes predictions about. For that reason, people have struggled for about a century to devise interpretations which fill in that gap and provide a humanly-graspable picture of just what nature is doing. I believe that the half-dozen or so leading proposed interpretations can be explained and discussed (at least at the level of a two-hour discussion) is essentially non-mathematical terms. The venue is the cafe at Illustrated on Park Street. It would help maintain the goodwill of the people at Illustrate if those attending would think about buying a coffee or a piece of cake. As a start on the process of providing appropriate and (if at all possible) non-mathematical references, here are three relevant books containing little or no maths - all available from Amazon: Gribbin, John, Six Impossible Things, Icon Books, 2019 (referred to above). Ananthaswamy, Anil, Through Two Doors at Once - The Elegant Experiment That Captures the Enigma of Our Quantum Reality, Dutton, 2018. Lindley, David, Where Does the Weirdness Go?, BasicBooks, 1996. Gilmore, Robert, Alice in Quantum Land, Sigma Press, 1994.

Past events (2)

Photos (12)