09 March 2010

Debating topical issues at Café Scientifique

Raising awareness of scientific research and debating topical issues with members of the public are the aims of Café Scientifique, which is being launched in Colchester this month.

Members of the University of Essex’s Faculty of Science and Engineering will discuss subjects ranging from children’s fitness to machines reading human minds at the informal sessions, taking place at the Minories Café.

Café Scientifique has been widely adopted in university towns throughout the world, and involves a scientist making a short presentation, followed by a question and answer session.

Dr Steve Avons, from the Department of Psychology, which initiated the events, said: ‘The aim is to keep the meetings informal, accessible, and to allow plenty of opportunities for discussion. This will allow the public to ask questions, will stimulate the interchange of ideas, and will generally raise the profile of the University's science faculty.’

The organisers hope the cafés will become a regular fixture of Colchester's nightlife as part of the University's aim of increasing its engagement with the community.

Admission is free, and all events start at 7.30pm on selected Wednesday evenings. There is no need to pre-book, but to guarantee a seat it is advisable to arrive by 7.15pm.

The programme is as follows:

31 March: Gavin Sandercock, 'What parents do: why children are (un)fit in the East of England'

14 April: Michael Steinke, 'The smell of the sea affects our climate:
How oceanic gases make clouds'

5 May: Francisco Sepulveda, 'Machines reading human minds: the good and the ugly'

19 May: Peter Higgins, 'Sudoku in the Round'

2 June: Markus Bindemann, ‘Recognizing unfamiliar faces: Eyewitness identification from a psychologist's perspective’.

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