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.


This step has been taken with sadness, but we feel it is in the best interests of our regular attendees and the wider community to reduce non-essential contacts. We hope to reschedule any talks that do not take place at a later date. 12th March 2020

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.

Mon 4th May “Behind the scenes at the museum: Science in the service of Henry VIII”. Prof Eleanor Schofield – Mary Rose Trust.

Mon 1st June “A death knell for retinal cells? Insights into early mechanisms of sight-threatening eye disease and potential therapy.” Fight For Sight – Drs Adnan Khan & Rebecca Kaye


Dr Adnan Khan

Adnan is currently the NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Ophthalmology at the University of Southampton. His research interests are in immunology and inflammatory eye disease. His passion for medical research developed early at University College London (UCL), when he interrupted his medical studies to undertake a PhD in immunological tolerance with Professors Andrew George MBE and Giovanna Lombardi at Imperial College London. He undertook further post-doctoral research in transplant immunology at University of Oxford with Professor Kathryn Wood before entering Ophthalmology training in Scotland. He is currently working with Professors Andrew Lotery and Jessica Teeling at the University of Southampton to elucidate the inflammatory mechanisms in macular degeneration.

Dr Rebecca Kaye

Rebecca graduated with first class honours from the University of Oxford before undertaking research at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School in 2013. She was appointed as an Academic Clinical Fellow in Ophthalmology at the University of Southampton in 2015. She is currently a Clinical Research Fellow undertaking research into degenerative retinal disease under the guidance of Professor Andrew Lotery. She has published papers in prestigious medical journals, including Mucosal Immunology, Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science and the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Mon 6th July “Liveable Cities” – Prof Patrick James – University of Southampton

Mon 3rd August “Reading the human skeleton”

This talk will discuss the techniques that can be used to gain an insight into individuals and populations from the past by analysing their skeletal remains. Using examples from her research Dr Dawson-Hobbis will discuss how biological anthropologists interpret information from the skeleton to determine identity information such as sex and age-at-death, as well as details of the lived experience including pathological lesions. How the discipline utilises evidence from scientific sampling to aid in determining how long ago an individual died (radiocarbon dating), and evidence for migration and diet (stable isotope analysis) will also be discussed.
Case studies will be drawn from her recent work on the Winchester Cathedral project ‘Kings and Scribes: the birth of a nation’, her appearance on the Channel Four programme ‘The Bone Detectives’ detailing some of her work on nineteenth century skeletal collections from Bristol, and research on medieval collections from Somerset and Winchester.
Dr Heidi Dawson-Hobbis is a Senior Lecturer in Biological Anthropology at the University of Winchester and an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Bristol where she completed her PhD titled ‘Unearthing Late Medieval Children: health, status and burial practice in southern England’. She has published papers in International Journal of Paleopathology, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, and Trends in Biological Anthropology.