Future Talks

All talks at Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry Street 7.15 for 7.45 unless otherwise advertised.

Licensed bar serving hot drinks, cakes and snacks. No charge to attend. Contributions welcome.

6th January 2020 “Driving-us-closer-to-greener-transport: sustainable lightweight composites” Professor Hom Nath Dhakal

The principle of Hom’s research is combining organic materials with plastics to create composite laminates.

The goal is to see these being used for products such as car bumpers and door linings. If you’re picturing a car partly made of plant fibres and imagining it would break if you blew on it, think again. Part of Hom’s research is about proving they have the necessary strength.

He and his team conducted several experiments to find out what happens to their materials when loads are applied. There are different mechanical properties to consider – from impact strength, to flexural strength, to fatigue – depending on what a biocomposite might be used for.

Professor Hom Nath Dhakal is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the School of Mechanical and Design Engineering, University of Portsmouth, U.K. In addition, he is also a docent professor of bio-based materials at the faculty of textiles engineering and business, University of Borås, Sweden.
He leads the Advanced Materials and Manufacturing (AMM) Research Group within the School of Mechanical and Design Engineering. His principal research interest lies in the design, development, testing and characterisation of sustainable lightweight composites, nanocomposites, natural fibre composites and biocomposites including their mechanical (tensile, flexural, low-velocity impact and fracture toughness), thermal and environmental properties (dimensional stability under harsh environments).
He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), Chartered Engineer (CEng), a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (FIET), Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) (FIMMM) and a member of the American Society for Composites (ASC).
Professor Dhakal is the author/co-author of over 100 publications in the area of light weight sustainable composite and biocomposites which has attracted well over 2400 citations with an h-index of 22; i10-index of 41 (Google Scholar as of 24/05/2019); ResearchGate score of 32.66, and higher than 90% of ResearchGate members. He has successfully supervised many PhDs as a Director of Studies; and been an external examiner for many PhDs nationally and internationally. He is a member of international scientific research committees; established national and international industrial, professional and academic networks.

Mon 3rd February 2020 “Alcohol: our favourite poison” – Prof Julia Sinclair

Alcohol is pervasive in our society, although almost 20% of the population self-identify as ‘non-drinkers’. Everyone knows someone who has a problematic relationship with alcohol.

The stigma surrounding problematic alcohol use means that there are no influential, fund-raising patient groups demanding improvements in treatment or to drive further research.

Politicians and policy makers have a marked ambivalence to an evidenced based alcohol policy, which is perhaps not surprising given significant lobbying by the alcohol industry: and £1.3 million worth of subsidised alcohol sold in House of Commons bars in a single year.

Among health professionals ‘alcohol health literacy’ is poor, with only a minority able to accurately estimate the alcohol content of commonly consumed drinks, to make an objective assessment of risk – a lack of competence that would be seen as negligent in any other disorder (e.g diabetes).

We are with alcohol where we were with smoking 30 years ago – do we want to catch up?

“No animal ever invented anything as bad as drunkenness- or so good as drink”

 – G. K Chesterton

Julia Sinclair is Professor of Addiction Psychiatry in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton, and leads the alcohol care team at University Hospital Southampton.

Her clinical roles include developing an integrated alcohol strategy across local clinical services, offering direct clinical care, and work with Regulatory Bodies including the General Medical Council. She is Chair of the Addiction Faculty of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. She has contributed to several clinical guidelines including the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline for the management of harmful drinking and alcohol dependence (CG115), the British Association of Psychopharmacology guidelines on the management of substance use in psychiatric disorders, and is currently working on the first clinical guideline for Public Health England. She is a Trustee of the Society for the Study of Addictions (SSA), which aims to broaden and promote the scientific understanding of addiction, and to help clinicians and policy makers get research evidence into practice.

Julia’s research is clinically focused, investigating how biological, psychological and social mechanisms interact in this group, and their impact on clinical outcomes in terms of prevention, engagement and response to treatment. She is a champion for Southampton Public Health “Dry January” campaign, and is looking forward to being at Winchester Café Sci on 3rd February!

Mon 2nd March “When stars fall into black holes: going beyond the equivalence principle.” – Dr Adam Pound, STAG

Mon 6th April 2020 “Languages of the World: Identifying the Language of Text” Alan Ratner.

This talk is in the field of Computational Linguistics which analyzes the bit patterns of human language. It is at the intersection of Computer Science and Linguistics and is closely related to Information Theory.

There are 3 kinds of language: spoken (sequences of phonemes), written (sequences of graphical characters), and text (sequences of characters encoded for computers). This talk will focus on the languages of the world, especially in the form of text. Say you have some text such as a web page or email in a language you do not recognize. Of the many thousands of languages which one is it? Identifying the language may allow you to forward it to someone who knows the language or to the appropriate automatic translator. Difficulties include: a) some text will contain few words or may be contain more than one language, b) the ratio of linguistic information to web formatting may be quite small making everything look like English, and c) speed requirements may limit you to extremely simple algorithms (if you wish to perform this task on billions or trillions of web pages or real-time on rapidly streaming text) . This talk will provide a brief introduction to the world’s scripts (alphabets, etc.) and the languages encoded using those scripts and how languages can be identified.

Alan graduated from the Massachusetts Insititute of Technolgy and Yale University. Specializing in radio propagation in plasmas, Alan responded to a job ad placed by the US National Security Agency looking for someone to study radio propagation in the ionosphere and worked there for 35 years as a communications engineer, with 7 of those years stationed in England. As analogue communications were replaced by digital communications his interest in the physics and engineering of communications was repaced by the linguistics and computation of communications. After Alan retired from the government he became Chief Knowledge Engineer at Northrop Grumman Information Systems using parallel computing to make sense of vast data sets including text, images, audio, video, network traffic, network security and financial transactions. He retired to England in 2017.