Hampstead Scientific Society Programme 2017-18
Extra Information

Date Subject (Standard Info) Speaker
Thurs 21 Sept
8:15 pm
You May Not Believe This But ...? 3 Interesting Talks To While An Evening Away
In this age of “fake” news, I have done some work on the difference between something being true in a sense which is based on our best knowledge, or merely plausible. This is not a serious analysis, but I shall present three lectures of an amusing content, richly illustrated, which could be ...?
Prof. Emeritus Heinz Wolff
(Brunel University
Ex-President and HSS Member for 60 Years)
Thurs 19 Oct.
8:15 pm
Biosignatures in Earth's Oldest Sediments
Tracing evidence for the oldest life on Earth, and Mars?

The oldest sedimentary rocks on Earth preserve a record of early biological evolution that might also have occurred on early Mars. We routinely image compositions of key minerals that represent the remains of microbial biomass, which provides information about the origin of graphitic carbon in the oldest metamorphosed sedimentary rocks. We are now testing a new model involving chemically-oscillating reactions in the formation of concretions on Earth as an approach to search for the remains of extra-terrestrial life in such structures, known to occur on Mars.
Dr Dominic Papineau
(University College London)
Thurs 16 Nov
8:15 pm
The History of Local Anaesthesia
Most equate ‘anaesthesia’ with general anaesthesia. This is likely because the introduction of general anaesthesia (1846) predated that of local anaesthesia (1884). The drugs used for these first demonstrations, ether and cocaine, had been in existence for centuries before pioneers made the mental leap between the knowledge that they could cause – respectively – sedation and numbness, and the potential for these effects to be used for the benefit of mankind.
This lecture maps the progress of cocaine from a drug of use and abuse by native South Americans first recorded by the Spanish conquistadors, through its use as a tonic in the 19th Century – it gave its name to Coke™ – to the discovery of its anaesthetic properties. Many had the opportunity to make the link between the numbing effects of cocaine and its medical potential, but it was not until 1884 that two young doctors in Vienna (Sigmund Freud – the Father of Psychoanalysis – and Carl Koller – the Father of Local Anaesthesia) made the mental leap that ushered in a revolution in medicine.
Pausing briefly to draw the audience into diversions such as the key role of the Austrian navy in the history of cocaine and the problems that medical pioneers experienced when experimenting with addictive drugs, Dr Harrop-Griffiths will put a humorous spin on a fascinating story.
Dr William Harrop-Griffiths
(St Mary's Hospital)
Thurs 14 Dec
8:15 pm
Ancient Chinese Science
Prof Andrew Gregory
(University College London)
Thurs 18 Jan 2018
8:15 pm
Origin, Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs
*** CANCELLED *** and replaced by

The Myth of the Pack-Hunting Dinosaurs
and associated fallacies of Dinosaurology

The idea that some carnivorous dinosaurs hunted in packs is well established in the popular imagination thanks to the phenomenal success of the 'Jurassic Park' movies. Mike Howgate will explain how Professor John Ostrom's misinterpretation of the fossil evidence excavated by the Yale Peabody Museum in the 1960's launched the intelligent, warm blooded, hyperactive, pack-hunting 'RAPTORS' and why his theories are in need of a thorough rethink.
Prof Paul Barrett
(Natural History Museum)

Mike Howgate
(Amateur Geological Society)
Thurs 15 Feb
8:15 pm
A Map of the Invisible
Smashing Physics: Journeys to the energy frontier
Exploration of the very smallest constituents of nature reveals a strange landscape, where quantum fields abound, particles aren't all they seem, and symmetries rule but can be broken. Prof. Butterworth will take a quick tour through some of this landscape, focussing on the latest particle to be discovered – the Higgs boson – and the explorations currently taking place at CERN with the Large Hadron Collider.
Prof. Jonathan Butterworth
(University College London)
Thurs 15 Mar
8:15 pm
Spider Silks and Webs
Spiders are everywhere and though some people may fear them, their webs and silks have been objects of human fascination for millennia. This talk will serve as an introduction to the wonderful world of spiders and the silks they spin, as well as some of the potential applications and technological advances made possible from the study and use of silks.
Mr Yue Jin Oh
(Oxford University)
Thurs 19 Apr
8:15 pm
Responding to Major Emergencies
The recent use of a nerve agent in Salisbury, highlights the need for planning and the use of appropriately trained staff. The talk to be given by Professor Paul Leonard will summarise some of his career and the role of emergency planning for major pollution incidents.
Promoted in 1985 to provide publicly credible environmental monitoring programmes around UK nuclear sites, the 1986 Chernobyl accident was the first of several emergencies that subsequently involved Paul advising Government officials on major oil spills, shipping accidents and overseas presentations in e.g. USA, Spain, Japan, South Africa and Kazakhstan.
Prof. Paul Leonard, FSRP, FLS
(The Society for Radiological Protection)
Thurs 17 May
8:15 pm
Maternal Nutrition and the Foetus
Much of the nutrition research and policy last century was devoted to protein nutrition which is relevant to body growth. Fast body growth was of interest to the animal industry. However, the structural material of the brain is 60% lipid. Human milk has the least protein of any large mammal but is rich in the essential fat needed for brain growth. This structural fat specifically uses the omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids, arachidonic (AA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids. The importance of the specific fatty acids and associated nutrients required by the brain have been ignored by the food production system and government policy to our cost.
The brain evolved in the sea 500 million years ago and naturally used marine nutrients. The evidence we have is that it still uses and depends on the same today. The bulk of brain development takes place before birth. There is robust experimental evidence that maternal inadequacy of AA and DHA during early development affects subsequent cognitive, visual, and behavioural functions. Moreover, the recent sharp rise in mental ill health amongst young people, is being linked to a loss of dietary omega 3 fatty acids essential to build the brain. This rise in mental ill health seems to be following from country to country in the steps of the previous rise of mortality from heart disease. Hence, the most likely explanation is nutritional, now affecting the vulnerable periods of brain development during pregnancy and infancy. In 1972, with the evidence we discovered then, Prof. Crawford predicted that because the vascular system was “under attack” the brain would be next. There is now more abundant and robust evidence and this prediction has proved correct.
The continued rise in mental ill-health threatens the sustainability of humanity.
Visiting Prof. Michael A Crawford FRSB, FRCPath
(Imperial College, London)
Thurs 21 June
8:00 pm
AGM: Wine & Cheese £3 + scientific entertainment

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Last updated  13-May-2018