Cafe Sci

The Battle that saved Cornwall

Wednesday, 2nd June at 5:30 pm. Register your interest HERE.

John Fletcher will be discussing the Battle of Hehil and the emergence of the Early Medieval Cornish State.

John Fletcher will be discussing the Battle of Hehil and the emergence of the Early Medieval Cornish State


		Virtual Café Sci | The Battle that Saved Cornwall image

About the talk

During the Summer of 722 the invading army of Saxon Wessex was met by a force of Native Britons at a place called Hehil. Despite a string of earlier victories this time the Saxons were defeated and forced into retreat, marking the start of a century of prolonged conflict that would serve to protect and preserve not only the Kingdom of Kernow but also the unique culture, language, and heritage of the Cornish.

This talk will aim to put the battle in its proper context by looking at the wider period and events, while also touching on the factors that have kept it, and other aspects of Early Medieval Cornwall, relatively unknown.


		Virtual Café Sci | The Battle that Saved Cornwall image

About our speaker – John Fletcher

John Fletcher has spent sixteen years recreating the life, crafts and combat of Early Medieval Britain as a reenactor. For much of that time his focus has been on the history of Cornwall and the South West after moving to the region in 2006 to attend the University of Plymouth and remaining there ever since. He is the chairman of the Hehil 1300 Committee who are seeking to put on a Festival of Cornish Heritage to commemorate 1300 years since the eponymous Battle.

Not a trained historian, John has a BSc in Environmental Sciences and completed his dissertation studying Climate Change on Early Medieval Dartmoor.


		Virtual Café Sci | The Battle that Saved Cornwall image
Cafe Sci

Automated Astrophotography, an Introduction

Fred Deakin will be introducing us to the world of modern astrophotography and how it works.


		Virtual Café Sci | Automated Astrophotography, an Introduction image

About the talk

Astrophotography used to mean spending hours outside in the dark and cold to get an image of one of the many targets above us. Now-a-days, with most astrophotographers needing their sleep for their work the next day, or not wanting to spend hours in the shivering cold, automation tools especially in the advance of software has meant they can stay in the warm and just let the telescopes do all the work automatically. It is since the introduction of this type of image capturing that the hobby has boomed in popularity and more and more very deep and incredibly long image runs can take place. It is not uncommon for astro-images to now be made of 20 or 40 hours of exposures, bringing unparalleled detail and beauty to the hands of amateurs. This introduction will show the types of tools needed, the methods used, and the philosophy behind bringing the heavens much closer.


		Virtual Café Sci | Automated Astrophotography, an Introduction image

About our speaker – Fred Deakin

Fred is a design engineer and has run his own company for the past seventeen years, designing and manufacturing machines to clean up our waterways. Prior to that Fred worked for the Medical Research Council in Oxford for many years. Cornwall was Fred’s real home though and he decided to return and change profession so he could be back in the place he’s always loved. Fred has always been interested in the night sky, and even as a teenager would be out on clear nights looking up at the night sky to see what he could find. In 2008 he had an industrial accident and the subsequent medication had the side-effect of reducing his eyesight enough that looking through an eyepiece was not the same. He decided to try his hand at astrophotography, and as they say the rest is history.

You can see more of Fred’s work on his Facebook page by clicking this link.

Cafe Sci

Social smarts: how jackdaws use each other to learn

Josh Arbon will be discussing how jackdaws cooperate and learn from one another and the wider implications of the research.


		Virtual Café Sci | Social smarts: how jackdaws use each other to learn image

About the talk

How does being scared help birds thrive in new environments? Want to know what remote controlled bird feeders can tell us about cooperation and the evolution of intelligence? How can eating cheese in Cornwall help save a species in Hawaii?


		Virtual Café Sci | Social smarts: how jackdaws use each other to learn image

About our speaker – Josh Arbon

Josh Arbon is a PhD student at the University of Exeter who studies the social cognition of jackdaws, a member of the crow family. Using study sites in the local area, Josh investigates how birds navigate their social and physical landscape as well as how they learn new information about each other and their environment. In his talk, Josh will reveal how the work of the Cornish Jackdaw Project has shed light on these issues and aims to further our understanding of how animals interact with the world around them.


		Virtual Café Sci | Social smarts: how jackdaws use each other to learn image
Cafe Sci

Snowball Earth Life: Ice creatures of the deep past

Jaz Millar will explore how life survived approximately 100 million years of ice and show us why scientists travel to the poles today to understand the past.


		Virtual Café Sci | Snowball Earth Life: Ice creatures of the deep past image

About the talk

From 720-635 milion years ago the planet was completely frozen in ice from the poles to the equator. Not only did the microorganisms that live there survive these harsh conditions they somehow thrived and diversified, as the first ever animals appear in the following period. In this talk we’ll explore how life survived approximately 100 million years of ice and show you why scientists travel to the poles today to understand the past.


		Virtual Café Sci | Snowball Earth Life: Ice creatures of the deep past image

About our speaker – Jaz Millar

Jaz Millar is a molecular- and micro-biologist with a background in extremophiles – organisms that thrive under extreme conditions. Their work is at the intersection of environmental science and biology, and involves everything from DNA analysis to climbing glaciers. They’re currently working towards their PhD at Cardiff University and The Natural History Museum London.


		Virtual Café Sci | Snowball Earth Life: Ice creatures of the deep past image
Cafe Sci

The Science Soap Box: February 2021

This event took place on the 24th February 2021, 5:30pm. See below for a short summary of our discussions.

We started talking about the gut microbiome, and how it impacts many aspects of our life.
We finished with a completely different topic – the recent Mars rover landing and the worth of space exploration.

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

Do you have a topic you would like to discuss at The Science Soapbox? We have one example lined up:

Ground-breaking new research on the genetics of the human gut biome suggests powerful new insights on diet, health, and environments.

We could be discussing this new research, exploring the science behind the headline conclusions; and the further questions it raises about DNA, science, health and society.

But what about YOU?


		The Science Soap Box image

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.


		The Science Soap Box image
Cafe Sci

Virtual Café Sci | The Science behind Forest Bathing | Paul Simmons

Wednesday, 20th January 2021

Paul Simmons will be discussing 40 years of research into the Japanese forest therapy of shirin-yoku or forest bathing.

About the talk

The talk is about the results of 40 years research into the Japanese forest therapy of shinrin-yoku or forest bathing and why it is so important for our psychological and physiological well-being with an almost universal acceptance of the need to reconnect to nature.

About our speaker – Paul Simmons

Paul Simmons has an MA in Cornish Studies and is embarking on a PhD about utilizing the Rights of Way network to help mitigate the effects of the climate and ecological emergency in a low carbon economy.

He has had a walking company for the past 20 years and is a practitioner of shinrin-yoku.

Arts Well

We are running this joint event with Arts Well. They play an important role for championing the arts and creativity in promoting health and wellbeing.

You can find out more about Arts Well here.

Cafe Sci

Virtual Café Sci | Archaeological mapping from airborne LiDAR

Wednesday, 16th December 2020

Dr. Chris Smart will be talking to us about preliminary results from a volunteer-led programme in South West Britain.

About the talk

This talk will give an overview of a new crowd-sourced project, created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which involves members of the public volunteering to systematically explore airborne LiDAR data and map ‘new’ archaeological sites and relics of the historic landscape.

The work is one part of the University of Exeter’s ‘Understanding Landscapes’ project, which is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This research focuses on Devon and Cornwall and, whilst the new discoveries span all periods in history (from Prehistoric to 19th-century), this presentation will focus on some of those which illuminate the Iron Age and Roman periods.

About our speaker – Dr. Chris Smart

Chris Smart is a landscape archaeologist at the University of Exeter who specialises in the heritage of Roman and medieval Britain. He currently runs the National Lottery Heritage Fund project ‘Understanding Landscapes’ which is engaging the public in research on Roman and medieval landscapes in Devon and Cornwall, UK

Cafe Sci

John of Trevisa – A Mediaeval Man of Science?

Wednesday, 25th November 2020

Robin Johnson will be giving a talk about John of Trevisa, a Cornish man who then translated Aristotle’s science writings into English.

About the talk

Robin will be telling the story of John de Trevisa, one of the first Cornishmen ever to go to university; who then translated Aristotle’s science writings into English; and quite probably, in his youth, was one of the key translators of Wycliffe’s bible.

It’s a story with history, science, politics and Cornwall in it.

It’s also got rebellion, danger, intrigue, powerful protectors and attempted character assassination.

Robin’s talk will attempt to tell the story, as best we can piece it together; and through this, we can explore the boundaries between history and science, translation and polemic, and the contributions each can make to understanding of the historical, social, and intellectual world.

Cafe Sci

Virtual Café Sci | PK Porthcurno | Paul Tyreman

Wednesday, 14th October 2020

Discussing the science and history associated with PK Porthcurno, formerly known as the Telegraph Museum.

About the talk

2020 was to be a year of great celebration at PK, being the 150th anniversary of the opening of the cable station, with many events planned at PK and the Minack and in Penzance. With Paul located in the Clore Learning Space at PK, we will begin with a brief look at significant events in these 150 years and a look at some of the basic science behind the Telegraph technology – perhaps with a demonstration without explanation to get everyone thinking.

Next we will find out how on Earth you go about finding a break in a cable that is hundreds of miles long and located on the sea bed. We will finish with a look at how the Internet is the same as the Telegraph the Victorians built – and the differences that allow the virtually instantaneous communication on which much of modern life relies.

There’s a lot more to Porthcurno beach than meets the eye.

About our speaker

Paul was a Science teacher in London and Cornwall for 26 years up to 2012. After a few years volunteering at PK Porthcurno (at the time simply called the Telegraph Museum), he became the Learning Facilitator in 2016, hosting school and other groups and running the monthly STEM Explorers sessions for 7 – 12 year olds – until Covid. He is currently working with his colleagues to see how these activities can be resumed.

Cafe Sci

Virtual Café Sci | Seaweed Aquaculture in South West of England

Wednesday, 30th September 2020

Dr. Carly Daniels and Dr. Katie Orchel will discuss the challenges facing seaweed aquaculture in the South West of England.

About the talk

Seaweed is a healthy, sustainable source of food with a large global market. The global seaweed industry is worth over $6 billion per annum (equivalent to approx. 12 million tonnes in volume), 85% of which is produced as food products for human consumption.

The algae cultivation industry is set for expansion in the UK, as the health and nutritional benefits of seaweed consumption become clear. Providing a sustainable source of protein, omega-3, iron, a range of vitamins and minerals and other key nutrients, seaweed is expected to play an important role in new diets, including the increased prominence of plant-based diets in reaction to new data on food-related carbon emissions.

Additionally, seaweed has many uses across different industries: the use of its bioactive compounds in cosmetics, nutraceuticals, bio-medicals and pharmaceuticals; as food additives and fertiliser in agriculture; and in the production of bioplastics, textiles and biofuels. These added uses and benefits make seaweed a prime candidate for sustainable product development.

Dr Carly Daniels (Department of Biosciences) and Dr Katie Orchel (Department of Geography) from the University of Exeter will discuss some of the technical and societal challenges that face development of the seaweed culture in the South West of England.