Three Years of Science in a Pub with SciBar

Words: Gav Squires
Wednesday 03 May 2017
reading time: min, words

Nottingham SciBar celebrated its third birthday in April, so we’ve taken a look back at those three years of people talking about clever stuff in a pub...


SciBar was launched in 2014 by the Nottingham branch of the British Science Association as a way of putting real scientists in front of real people in a friendly environment. The public get to see that scientists aren't all crazy-haired men in ivory towers, and the scientists get a chance to present their work in everyday language. All in a nice pub. 33 talks later, here’s some of the stuff we've learned over the past three years…

"Small Scale Biomass Gasification for Sustainable and Local Energy Production"
Dr Andrew Rollinson from the University of Nottingham taught us that grass waste from crops such as rice or even garden waste can be used to generate electricity and heating.

"Ebola Virus: Were We Ready?"
Professor Jonathan Ball from the University of Nottingham spoke about the then-recent outbreak of Ebola in Western Africa, and how scientists and healthcare professionals were fighting the virus.

"How Can Blue-Green Infrastructure be Used to Tackle Urban Flood Risk?"
Dr Emily O'Donnell from the University of Nottingham told us about environmentally friendly ways to prevent our towns and cities from flooding.

"The Sustainable Skyscraper"
Dr Philip Oldfield from the University of Nottingham clued us in on current trends in tall buildings, the future of high-rise architecture and just how few car parking spaces there are at The Shard.

"Embryo Development and Animal Models"
Dr Teri Forey from the University of Nottingham taught us about how other animals, such as the self-repairing axolotl, are used to model human embryo growth.

"Placing the Timelords on the Kardashev Scale"
Professor Frazier Pearce from the University of Nottingham explained that there probably aren't any developed civilisations out in space because we would have probably seen their energy emissions by now.

"Sean on the Dead: Zombie Genomics"
Sean May from the University of Nottingham prepared us for the zombie apocalypse by training us up to be scientists in a world of the walking dead.

"When Quantum Physics Goes Up to 11"
Professor Philip Moriarty from the University of Nottingham demonstrated how heavy metal can be used to help understand Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.

"Always Drink When You're Happy Never When You're Sad?"
Dr Katy Jones from the University of Nottingham explained the psychology of drinking, and advised against trying to drink your problems away. You'll wake up the next day and your problems will still be there, but you'll have to try and deal with them with a hangover.

"Stand-up Mathematician"
Matt Parker, one third of the Festival of the Spoken Nerd, wowed us with his skill with a Rubik's Cube and did what many would think impossible: made mathematics both fun and interesting.

A word from the top
We also had a word with Teri and Louise, the organisers of Nottingham SciBar, about their own favourite talks. "Ooh, so many" says Louise. "I think it was probably the antibiotic resistance one or Moriarty with his guitar."

"Apart from my own?" asked Teri. "Probably the one on skyscrapers or blue-green buildings to stop flooding. They were both optimistic, contained wonderful but simple things that people are designing to improve the environment and generally made me feel hopeful."

SciBar takes place on the last Wednesday of every month at The Vat and Fiddle.

SciBar meet up page

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