View all news

Bristol experts to speak at prestigious science festival

Press release issued: 30 July 2004

Nine Bristol University experts will be among over 300 of the UK's top scientists appearing at the BA Festival of Science this year. 

Nine Bristol University experts will be among over 300 of the UK's top scientists appearing at the BA Festival of Science - the UK's longest-established science festival - this year.  Thousands of people are expected to attend the event in Exeter between 4-11 September where the scientists will discuss their research and its implications with the public.

Monday 6 September

Dr Adam Crewe from the Department of Civil Engineering will be giving one of this year’s five BA Award Lectures.  Dr Crewe’s lecture Surviving an earthquake: how can we design earthquake proof buildings? was named as the winner of this year’s Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award in the Engineering, Technology and Industry category.

Using live shaking-table demonstrations animated computer simulations and images of actual earthquake damage, Surviving an earthquake will develop and explore the fundamental design issues facing earthquake engineers, such as flexibility and mass distribution, weak storeys, and changes in building shape.  The lecture will consider how these concepts can be used by earthquake engineers to control the performance of structures during earthquakes and design safer building 

Dr Dave Bates from the Department of Physiology will be chairing a session entitled The microcirculation: small is beautiful.  The smallest blood vessels – or microcirculation – have been explored very little, mainly because they are so difficult to study in man.  However they are vital for health.  The session will discuss the importance of these vessels and what happens when they fail.  The talks will also cover new techniques which will enable us to explore vital microvessels in areas which were previously inaccessible. 

Professor Mike Benton from the Department of Earth Sciences will deliver his lecture Daring to Walk with Dinosaurs which discusses the impact that the BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs series had on the world of palaeonotology.  While some experts argued that the series was a combination of facts and guesswork that could mislead the viewer, Professor Benton, who acted as a consultant on the first programme, argues that experts must do all they can to bring ancient beasts to life. 

Tuesday 7 September

Professor Graham Collingridge from the Department of Anatomy will chair a session on memory entitled Memories are made of this – Molecules of the Mind.  The idea that our brains are plastic – constantly changing – and information is stored at synapses – those trillions of connections between our brain cells – will form the basis of his talk.

In the same session, Professor Zafar Bashir from the Department of Anatomy will give a talk on How we learn and remember things.  He will focus on what we know about how information for visual recognition is stored and encoded within the brain.  Scientists are particularly keen to understand how communication between neurons in the brain is controlled as changes in the efficiency of this communication is likely to be important in the process of recognition memory.  Comprehending these processes will provide important information for understanding deficits in learning and memory resulting from different dementias and diseases such as Altzheimer’s.

Dr Harry Witchel from the Department of Physiology will be giving one of this year’s five BA Award Lectures.  Dr Witchel’s talk The chemicals of pleasure: good or evil? was named as the winner of this year’s Charles Darwin Award in the Agricultural, Biological and Medical category.

The talk will explore our experience of pleasure and its connection with chemicals in the brain.  It will take the audience on a journey through the brain's pathways of pleasure, discussing how our brains react to sex, music, thrill seeking and addiction to drugs.  The lecture will include audience participation and animated displays.

Thursday 9 September

Dr Bridget Lumb from the Department of Physiology will give a talk entitled What can animals tell us? as part of a session entitled The Responsible Use of Animals which will highlight some of the issues surrounding the use of animals in medical research.  Dr Lumb will address the question of why we still need to use animals in medical research rather than alternatives such as tissue cultures and computer models.  She will also discuss what information gained from animal experiments can tell us about human medical conditions.

Dr David Shankland from the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology will give a talk entitled Rejected from Eden: Anthropology at the British School at Athens 1900-1914 as part of a session on Anthropology after Darwin: the role of the BA.  This event will look at the BA’s Archaeology and Anthropology Section between 1870 and 1920.

Friday 10 September

Dr Simon Naylor from the School of Geographical Sciences will give a talk on Cornish science in the nineteenth century as part of a session on West Country Science organised by the BA History of Science Section.

The BA is the UK's nationwide, open membership organisation dedicated to connecting science with people, so that science and its applications become accessible to all.  The BA aims to promote openness about science in society and to engage and inspire people directly with science and technology and their implications.

Established in 1831, the BA organises major initiatives across the UK, including the annual BA Festival of Science which is the UK's longest-established science festival.


Edit this page