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Cafe Sci

Virtual Café Sci | The Evolution of Sailing Dinghies | Reuben Thompson

Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, 5:30pm. Register your interest HERE.

Reuben Thompson will be talking to us about how sailing dinghies have changed and evolved over the past few decades.

About the talk

What is a King George Jubilee Truss, and why was it banned for 15 years? How did a WW2 Bomber open sailing up to the masses? These are just part of the journey over the last 100 years as the sport of dinghy sailing has gone from a sedate pastime for wealthy gentlemen, to an exciting and accessible sport. How did we get here and where are we going next?

Whether you have a prior interest in sailing or not this talk aims to give an overview of the technological, material, and social developments that have influenced the evolution of sailing dinghies.

About our speaker: Reuben Thompson

I have had a lifelong interest in sailing and can usually be found somewhere near the water. After training at the Lyme Regis Boatbuilding Academy I worked for a number of years at Cockwells boatyard in Mylor, before completing an advanced apprenticeship in historic vessel restoration at the National Maritime Cornwall where I continue to work as their in house boatbuilder. In this capacity I care for the collection, keep the floating exhibits on the water and carry out restorations in the museums workshop gallery. Meanwhile I am studying towards a degree in naval architecture through Plymouth University.

Article Series

Ocean 3D – Improving the accessibility of Cornish communities with VR

by Jessica Forsyth

For some people, getting out and about to explore new places poses a challenge. This might be the result of a physical disability that makes it difficult to move around or of an anxiety disorder which can make visiting new places an unnerving experience. These are just a couple of examples of the barriers that can leave individuals feeling as if they are shut off from their community. To ensure this is not the case, we must find ways to increase the accessibility of our communities to those with additional needs.

Virtual reality (VR) is a technology that has enormous potential to do just this and is something that the Cornwall based company Ocean 3D has been quick to recognise. Based in Penzance, they conduct 3D and interactive tours with the aim of ‘enabling people to visit, explore and enjoy locations that are difficult or impossible to access due to distance, income, physical or mental disabilities’.

Some of the locations mapped already include The Museum of Cornish Life, Penzance railway station and St Buryan Church, with plans for the near future including a scan of the Old Penlee lifeboat house and a project with the Tate St Ives. These tours are freely accessible via their website and are of an extremely high quality.

Speaking with the director of the company, Chris Wood, I was able to gain an insight into some of his goals for the future, one of which is to be able to create scans of entire villages with links to 3D tours of artist studios and village shops that can be viewed worldwide. We also spoke about the positive impact that the company had achieved through the creation and provision of these tours to members of the community.

One example that Chris provided was some feedback he had received from families that had utilised the tours for elderly relatives. For some who were bedbound this had allowed them to explore locations that they had fond memories of but could no longer manage to visit and for others, who suffered from dementia, it had had the power of triggering positive memories that were thought to have been lost.

More and more research is being conducted into the variety of benefits that VR can provide with studies ranging from exploring its use in combatting loneliness in the elderly to its use in exposure therapy for the treatment of anxiety disorders. Ultimately, the benefits of VR are unique to the individual but whatever capacity it is that these tours help in is an important step in improving the inclusivity of society and therefore a step in the right direction.

The emphasis that Ocean 3D has on using this technology to benefit those at a disadvantage is commendable and if you wish to find out more about their work please visit their website at https://www.ocean3d.co.uk/.

Cafe Sci

Saving ESTER – the native Cornish oyster

A recording of this talk is now available on YouTube.

Chris Ranger will be talking to us about preserving native oyster populations in Cornwall.

About the talk

85-95% of the world’s native oyster population has been lost due to overfishing, pollution & disease. The Fal Fishery has possibly the last remaining naturally reproducing wild stocks.

But poor management and exploitation means it is heading in the same direction as all other U.K. fisheries. They all collapsed. 17 worldwide restoration projects are planned.

But sourcing native oysters is a major limiting factor.

In this talk, Chris Ranger (pictured below), explains how he has a back up plan with a micro hatchery, spatting pond nurseries and aquaculture research site, just in case.

Useful links

Fal Oyster Ltd. website | www.faloyster.co.uk

Fal Oyster Newsletter | http://eepurl.com/gR7V_T

Fal Fishery Cooperative CIC | www.falfisherycoopcic.co.uk

Fal Fishery Cooperative CIC Newsletter | http://eepurl.com/gEUdj5

Saving the Oyster crowdfunder | https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/savingestertheoyster

Above: Oysters in a petri dish.

What is Café Sci?

A Café Sci typically consists of a short talk (around 20 minutes), followed by a Q&A /discussion which can last up to an hour. You are not obliged to stay for the full duration so if you’re pushed for time or just want to see the talk do please come along for the first half hour.

Cafe Sci

The Science Soap Box: Third Instalment

Wednesday, 26th August at 5:30pm. Register your interest HERE.

To end August, our break from regular talks, we are holding another Science Soapbox.

Join us for another discussion about the science that is important to you. This time, please let us know your topic of interest when registering through Eventbrite and we will circulate a list of topics before the event.

Introducing The Science Soap Box

What science-related story has caught your eye over the past year?

What seems to you really important?

This week, instead of Virtual Cafe Sci, we are opening up this space to all you, our audience, to have your say on any science-related item that you’ve found especially interesting, whether in the news, in the journals, or on the web.

You can tell us briefly, in the chat box, what you found; and why you think it matters; and we will then give you time on screen to make the case for why we should all be interested too.

After that, as with all our evenings, we will open the discussion to everyone else, to comment or ask questions – and so you may get the chance to expand and say more.

Cafe Sci

The Science Soap Box

Wednesday, 12th August at 5:30pm. Register your interest HERE.

Join us for another Science Soapbox where you can join the discussion about the science that is important to you.

Introducing The Science Soap Box

What science-related story has caught your eye over the past year?

What seems to you really important?

This week, instead of Virtual Cafe Sci, we are opening up this space to all you, our audience, to have your say on any science-related item that you’ve found especially interesting, whether in the news, in the journals, or on the web.

You can tell us briefly, in the chat box, what you found; and why you think it matters; and we will then give you time on screen to make the case for why we should all be interested too.

After that, as with all our evenings, we will open the discussion to everyone else, to comment or ask questions – and so you may get the chance to expand and say more.

Cafe Sci

When seabirds come to town

A recording of this talk will be available soon.

When seabirds come to town: How herring gulls make use of human behaviour.

About the talk

Herring gulls are becoming more common in urban areas, masking a national population decline but increasing the number of interactions this species has with humans. During encounters with humans, gulls must make risky decisions about when, where and on what to forage. Madeleine will discuss the behavioural cues gulls use from humans to inform their own behaviour, and how negative interactions between gulls and humans could be reduced.

About our speaker

Madeleine Goumas is a PhD student at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter. Her research focuses on the use of human cues by herring gulls living in urban areas.

Cafe Sci

Astrobiology: Investigating the habitability of martian salt crystals

A recording of this talk is available on YouTube HERE.

Astrobiology: Investigating the habitability of martian salt crystals. This will be a short talk followed by an in-depth Q&A and discussion.

About the talk

After repeated failed attempts in the 70s to find alien life at Mission Landing Sites, modern astrobiology attempts to narrow the search area by determining what exactly constitutes a habitable environment. In this talk, Dr Peter Morwool talks about the work carried out in his PhD investigating whether, and which, martian salt crystals might be capable of preserving life from an ancient, more habitable past.

About our speaker

Dr. Peter Morwool previously carried out a PhD in astrobiology at the Open University. He now works in the social evolution of biopesticides at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus.

Cafe Sci

‘The Grim Hell-Hounds Prowling’ – Myths and Realities of Cornish Wrecking

A recording of this talk is available on YouTube HERE.

In this Virtual Café Sci, Dr Cathryn Pearce will be addressing Cornish wrecking in the Long Eighteenth Century.

About the talk

‘…the grim hell-hounds prowling round the shore…’ – So poet and seaman William Falconer described the frightful crowds of wreckers plundered ships unfortunate to run aground on England’s coast in the eighteenth century. The malevolent reputation of wreckers was popularized and sustained through similar descriptions and rhetoric in Victorian novels, short stories and opera, and by sensationalised stories printed in local and national newspapers. Wreckers, too, are found in legends throughout Britain and Ireland. However, the stereotype became solely applied to Cornwall. But who were they, really?

In this presentation, Dr Cathryn Pearce, Senior Lecturer in Naval and Maritime History at the University of Portsmouth, will share her journey uncovering the reality behind the notorious wrecker. She may even mention that most notorious of charges, deliberate wrecking!

Cafe Sci

The Secrets of Ancient Trees

A recording of this talk is now available on YouTube.

Tim Kellet will talking to us about how a citizen science project revealed some of the secrets of the oldest trees in Cornwall.

About the talk

The values of ancient trees for biodiversity and culture. How a citizen science project reveals some of the secrets of the oldest trees in Cornwall.

The talk will show some of the special features of ancient and veteran trees and what they can reveal about our landscapes and culture. He will also talk about their protection and good management.

About our speaker

Tim Kellett is the chair of Cornwall regional group of the Ancient Tree Forum Ancient Tree Forum He is also the SW lead volunteer verifier for the Ancient Tree Inventory – Woodland Trust – a citizen science project run by the Woodland Trust.

Cafe Sci

Taming the living-room lion

A recording of this talk, excluding the Q&A, is now available on YouTube.

Dr. Sarah Crowley will be speaking to us about managing hunting behaviour in domestic cats.

About the talk

Cats are animals of two halves: they are both affectionate companions and extremely efficient predators. Here in the UK, most of our 10 million pet cats roam freely outdoors, and the majority of cat owners are familiar with finding a flurry of feathers in the kitchen, or a dead mouse on the doormat. Not only is this an unpleasant experience, but some conservation organisations are concerned that high levels of predation by cats is negatively impacting vulnerable wildlife populations, and especially small birds.

Our ‘Cats, Cat Owners and Wildlife’ project has been working closely with cat owners to understand how they feel about the behaviour and impacts of their ‘living-room lions’, and to investigate how we might reduce number of animals killed by cats without harming – and hopefully enhancing – cat health or welfare. In this talk, Sarah will explain why our pampered pets still hunt and why controlling this poses an ethical dilemma for cat owners. She will also introduce our recent experimental study which, with the assistance of more than 400 cats (and their owners!), is helping us to identify promising new techniques for managing your cat’s hunting behaviour.

About our speaker

Dr Sarah Crowley is an anthrozoologist and environmental social scientist at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus. The ‘Cats, Cat Owners and Wildlife’ project is sponsored by independent conservation charity Songbird Survival. Read more about the project here.