Didcot First

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Talks start at 7.30pm on the third Tuesday of every month at Cornerstone, Didcot.

There is no need to book - just turn up! However, please be aware - should visitor numbers exceed the capacity of the venue, some people may be denied entry, therefore, do come early to get a good seat!

Each month we have a different speaker, and would welcome your ideas for topics or speakers.  The events are aimed at an audience aged 16+.

Whilst the event is free, we do ask for a voluntary donation to cover the cost of hiring the sound amplification that is required now our numbers have grown.  Donations will not be regulated - we're well aware that some will be able to pay, some will wish to overpay at some meetings and ignore the pot at others, and some may find it difficult to contribute in this way. 

Didcot First has been organising the Didcot Café Scientifique since 2010.  It is important to us because we have some really ground breaking and earth shattering science happening all around us: at Harwell, Rutherford, Culham, Milton Park, etc. and we want to help connect local people (scientists and complete novices) with what is happening in these places.

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  • Cafe Scientifique-The European Space Agency’s Gaia mission

    Cafe Scientifique-The European Space Agency’s Gaia mission

    19th December 2017

    Gaia is an ambitious mission by the European Space Agency to make a three-dimensional map of our Galaxy, the Milky Way. Gaia is measuring the positions and motions of over a billion stars with unprecedented (and almost unbelievable) accuracy, to the extent that it is necessary to account for the bending of light by the planets in the solar system in order get usable answers. Measurements from Gaia are so accurate that they give accurate distances to stars in nearby galaxies, something that has never been possible before. Data from Gaia are revolutionising astronomy as they allow us to understand the composition, formation and evolution of the Galaxy in exquisite detail. Dr Peter Allan is a space scientist and astronomer working at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL). He did a PhD at Manchester University on the subject of black hole models of quasars and subsequently held research positions in astronomy at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and at Kitt Peak National...

  • Cafe Scientifique-Through the Looking Glass – micro adventures with materials

    Cafe Scientifique-Through the Looking Glass – micro adventures with materials

    21st November 2017

    Dr Alison Crossley is a senior research fellow in Oxford University, Department of Materials. Alison gained her first degree in Chemistry at Liverpool University and subsequently a Ph.D. in surface science under the supervision of Professor Sir David King. Alison then worked at Harwell for...

  • Cafe Scientifique-Understanding Patents

    Cafe Scientifique-Understanding Patents

    24th October 2017

    This talk will discuss a number of aspects of the patent system, for example seeking to explain why patent attorneys will transform a scientific paper into something written in a completely different language. Michael Butler graduated with a degree in materials science and then qualified as...

  • Cafe Scientifique: Why confidence in measurement is so important

    Cafe Scientifique: Why confidence in measurement is so important

    19th September 2017

     Our everyday life is peppered with measurements and we usually trust them without thinking. The petrol pump; our bathroom, kitchen and supermarket scales; tape measures; barometers; and thermometers that confirm a heatwave or provide an indication of health. These are, however, just the...

  • Cafe Scientifique-The evolution of radioactive waste management in the UK

    Cafe Scientifique-The evolution of radioactive waste management in the UK

    18th July 2017

    Radioactive waste has been generated from commercial nuclear reactors since the opening of Calder Hall in 1956. This talk will present a pictorial journey through the evolution of waste management practices in the UK to the present day including sea dumping, surface storage and the quest for a...

  • Cafe Scientifique-Origami and Its Engineering Applications

    Cafe Scientifique-Origami and Its Engineering Applications

    20th June 2017

    A Talk by Professor Zong Yhou, Department of Engineering Science, Oxford University. In recent decades origami folding, a traditional art form of paper folding, has been of increasing interest to engineers. It has been found that the formation of origami structures and the shape change capability...

  • Café Scientifique - Radiotherapy-cutting edge or out of date?

    Café Scientifique - Radiotherapy-cutting edge or out of date?

    16th May 2017

    A talk by Dr Martin Christlieb, Department of Oncology, University of Oxford. Radiotherapy has been in use for over 100 years, yet it is still a workhorse of cancer medicine. How does it work? Why is it still in use? And will we still be using it in 20 years? During May's Cafe Sci we will...

  • Café Scientifique - What the Frac...?!

    Café Scientifique - What the Frac...?!

    18th April 2017

    Café Scientifique - 'What the Frac...?!' a talk by Alun Griffin, a Petroleum Engineer Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a hot topic, especially with Government approval of Cuadrilla's plans for fracking at a site in Lancashire last October.  But what exactly does fracking involve?  ...

  • Café Scientifique - Felt tip fairies and grease monkeys - the curse of professional stereotyping

    Café Scientifique - Felt tip fairies and grease monkeys - the curse of professional stereotyping

    21st March 2017

    Café Scientifique - Felt tip fairies and grease monkeys - the curse of professional stereotyping. by Mike Ayre from Crucible Design at University Technology College (UTC) Oxfordshire Didcot First and UTC Oxfordshire are once again joining forces to arrange an exciting Café Scientifique talk at...

  • Café Scientifique - It is Rocket Science!

    Café Scientifique - It is Rocket Science!

    21st February 2017

    Café Scientifique - 'It is Rocket Science! A look at the challenges and technologies of satellites and space'We are delighted to announce that Mike Lawton, CEO of Oxford Space Systems is coming to talk at our next Café Scientifique. On earth, many engineering tasks are relatively straightforward...

  • Café Scientifique - Diamond Light Source - harnessing the power of 10 billion suns

    Café Scientifique - Diamond Light Source - harnessing the power of 10 billion suns

    17th January 2017

    Diamond Light Source - harnessing the power of 10 billion suns by Professor Andrew Harrison When Diamond Light Source was switched on in 2007, it produced the brightest continuous source of light in the solar system.  This talk by CEO of Diamond, will illustrate how that light is sued by over...

  • Café Scientifique - Petrophysics, the technology & science involved in interpreting borehole data

    Café Scientifique - Petrophysics, the technology & science involved in interpreting borehole data

    20th December 2016

    Petrophysics, the technology & science involved in interpreting borehole data Join us for a talk from Andy Stocks, an independent Petrophysicist on a very specialised discipline.  Andy will explain how from the data gathered he can interpret the type of rock, its storage capacity...

  • Café Scientifique - The Science, Ethics and Challenges of IVF in 2016

    Café Scientifique - The Science, Ethics and Challenges of IVF in 2016

    15th November 2016

    The Science, Ethics and Challenges of IVF in 2016 Tim Child, Associate Professor in Reproductive Medicine at the University of Oxford, and Medical Director of Oxford Fertility, will talk us through some current challenges in Assisted Conception. These include the debate over NHS funding for...

  • Café Scientifique - Personalised Medicine - The future of cancer therapy?

    Café Scientifique - Personalised Medicine - The future of cancer therapy?

    18th October 2016

    Café Scientifique - Personalised Medicine - The future of cancer therapy? Nikki Hayward, a Senior Nurse for Cancer Research UK, will explain what is meant by the term 'personalised medicine' exploring the aims of treatment, and the main differences between standard and personalised therapy. ...

  • Café Scientifique - Waves of Gravity

    Café Scientifique - Waves of Gravity

    20th September 2016

    Café Scientifique - Waves of Gravity, what it's like to work on a scientific breakthrough A century ago, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves as part of his general theory of relativity. He himself was sceptical about their existence and it has taken 50 years of...

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  • Café Sci: Envision: Understanding why our most Earth-like neighbour (Venus) is so different

    Café Sci: Envision: Understanding why our most Earth-like neighbour (Venus) is so different

    19th July 2016

    Envision: Understanding why our most Earth-like neighbour (Venus) is so different by Richard Ghail Richard Ghail, from Imperial College London, will be informing us about how he uses radar interferometry to measure intraplate tectonics under ground in London and is proposing a mission to do the...

  • Café Scientfique - 25 years of the Hubble telescope

    Café Scientfique - 25 years of the Hubble telescope

    21st June 2016

    25 years of the Hubble telescope - precise measurements and unexpected discoveries Dr Allan will talk about what the Hubble space telescope was designed to do, why we need to go into space to do this, the tremendous advances that it has delivered in our understanding of the universe and the...

  • Café Scientifique - Art & Astronomy 2

    Café Scientifique - Art & Astronomy 2

    17th May 2016

    Café Scientifique - Art & Astronomy In 2010 Barry Kellett, from RAL Space, gave a talk on art and astronomy that left us all with a great deal to think about (particularly the background story to Munch's 'The Scream').  To coincide with Artweeks, Barry has offered to give us more insights...

  • Café Scientifque - What's in our water?

    Café Scientifque - What's in our water?

    19th April 2016

    What's in our water? - understanding the role of phosphate in drinking water We will be returning to our usual venue at Cornerstone to hear Matthew Ascott, a Hydrogeologist at the British Geological Survey, talk about how the addition of phosphate to our drinking water affects human health and the...

  • Special Café Scientfique - Bloodhound Talk 'Time for a big change'

    Special Café Scientfique - Bloodhound Talk 'Time for a big change'

    15th March 2016

    Special Café Scientifique - 'Time for a big change', a talk by Sir Richard Noble of the Bloodhound SSC project. Richard Noble's team see themselves as an extension of the generation that took aircraft design and manufacture from biplanes to jets in 6 years.  The team has built a 1,000mph...

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  • Stopping bad guys with lasers & other useful applications of Raman spectroscopy

    Stopping bad guys with lasers & other useful applications of Raman spectroscopy

    16th February 2016

    Local company Cobalt Light Systems is using novel laser-based spectroscopy techniques to see through barriers and identify chemicals within containers.  Applications are airport security, manufacturing raw material check, bomb disposal, and in-vivo cancer detection.  Stuart...

  • Café Scientifique - Nuclear Issues

    Café Scientifique - Nuclear Issues

    19th January 2016

    Nuclear Issues by Ian Adsley Ian has very recently retired from his role as Senior Consultant at Nuvia.  This will be his third and final talk about aspects of nuclear issues.  The first talk covered the good (medical radiotherapy and diagnostics), the bad (nuclear weapons) and the...

  • Café Scientifique - Christmas Special

    Café Scientifique - Christmas Special

    15th December 2015

    Café Scientifique - Christmas Special In December 2010 Dr Barry Kellett, from STFC, came to give us a talk about the 'real' astronomy behind the biblical Star of Bethlehem.  So many people enjoyed that particular session that it has gone down in Café Scientifique history, causing those that...

  • Café Scientifique, Culham - where we have come from and where we are going

    Café Scientifique, Culham - where we have come from and where we are going

    17th November 2015

    Culham - where we have come from and where we are going  Chris Warrick is the Communications Manager at the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), where he has particular responsibility for education and public outreach.  Steven Moss is currently Head of...

  • Café Scientifique - Breeding crops for the future and why we need to...

    Café Scientifique - Breeding crops for the future and why we need to...

    20th October 2015

    Jane Langdale is a Professor of Plant Development at the University of Oxford.  Her research focuses on understanding the genetic mechanisms that regulate how leaves develop, and on understanding how those mechanisms evolved.  As part of an international consortium funded by the Bill...

  • Café Scientifique - Reflections and Revolutions: A Science Film Night

    15th September 2015

    Come join the Nuffield Dept. of Medicine & Diamond Light Source for a film festival celebrating the development of X-ray crystallography and structural biology.  Oxfordshire researchers have had key roles in the development of these critical research fields, and continue to lead today. A...

  • Café Scientifique - How we rely on nature, and nature relies on us

    21st July 2015

    Dr Michael Pocock is an ecologist working at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Crowmarsh Gifford, near Wallingford. Much of his research relies on thousands of people across the country getting involved to help answer questions about how wildlife is changing in the UK.  Based on the...

  • Café Scientifique - The Little Neutral One...Seeing the Universe in a new 'light'

    16th June 2015

    The Little Neutral One...Seeing the Universe in a new 'light' news article  by Dr Barry Kellett Dr Barry Kellett, a space scientist and astronomer from Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, came to talk to us last summer about the largest 'telescope' in the world. Now he is back to talk...

  • Café Scientifique - Innovate in UK & Make in UK

    19th May 2015

    Tuesday 19th May:  Innovate in UK & Make in UK Our speaker, Ian MacAfee, is CEO of Oxsensis Ltd.  He has an Honours degree in Mechanical Engineering, an MBA and is a Fellow of the IMechE.  Ian spent most of his career in the turbomachinery and energy sectors with...

  • Café Scientifique - Culham Centre for Fusion Energy

    21st April 2015

    In a special Café Scientifique in association with the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), this month we will be moving into the Auditorium. CCFE's Director Professor Steve Cowley will be giving a talk about the research underway at CCFE into a new source of energy - nuclear fusion. ...

  • Café Scientifique - Local Science Education

    Café Scientifique - Local Science Education

    17th March 2015

    (photo courtesy of utcoxfordshire.org.uk) We last talked about local science education provision in May 2011 and it have moved on a long way since then. We have asked Owain Johns, the new Principal, from the University Technical College (UTC), which is currently under construction in...

  • Café Scientifique - Light for Life

    Café Scientifique - Light for Life

    17th February 2015

    Café Scientifique 2015 Tuesday 17th February: Light for Life Dr John O'Hagan is Group Leader of the Laser & Optical Radiation Dosimetry Group at Public Health England and is responsible for advice to Government on the detrimental effects of optical radiation on people.  The Group's...

  • Café Scientifique - Studies with a Spider's Silks

    20th January 2015

    Our January Café Scientifique talk is by Dr Ann Terry, who is an Instrument Scientist at ISIS Harwell.  Ann will be providing us with a very interesting talk on what is known about a spider's silks and what we might hope to learn by copying nature.  The gossamer threads of a spider's...

  • Café Scientifique - Traditional Christmas Plants

    16th December 2014

      Traditional Christmas Plants   Tuesday 16th December 2014 Timothy Walker was until recently Director of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and has now taken up a post as Lecturer in Plant Sciences at Somerville College.  Timothy will be talking to us about plants from...

  • Café Scientifique - Camera-based Health Care Monitoring

    18th November 2014

      Camera-based Healthcare Montoring Our speaker for our November Cafe Sci is Ben Wensley Stock, who is Chief Technical Officer at Oxehealth.  He will be giving us a fascinating look at 21st century medical diagnostics. ...

  • Café Scientifique - Engineering Past & Future

    21st October 2014

      Talk by Professor John Womersley, CEO at the Science & Technology Facilities Counci (STFC). Engineering plays a vital role in all our lives, from the steam engines of the past to the computers, mobile phones and the technologies which will help solve the problems of tomorrow.  Not...

  • Café Scientifique - Remediation of the Olympic Park Site

    Café Scientifique - Remediation of the Olympic Park Site

    16th September 2014

    Café Scientifique - Remediation of the Olympic Park Site Tuesday 16th September 2014 - at Cornerstone, Didcot. Ian Adsley from Nuvia last came to talk to us about radioactivity and radiation worldwide.  This time he will be talking about his involvement with the project of turning...

  • August Café Sci at Harwell Oxford - Data Storage

    19th August 2014

    Café Scientifique - 'Data Storage' by Alistair Adams With Cornerstone closed for their summer break, we will be on the move to the Harwell Oxford campus on Tuesday 19th August 2014. No need to book in advance, just arrive at RAL Reception, Fermi Avenue OX11 0QX (just beyond the Diamond building as...

  • Café Scientifique - Creativity & Calculation: the life of a theoretical physicist

    15th July 2014

    Café Scientifique - Creativity & Calculation: the life of a theoretical physicist news article Thomas Fink, Director of the London Institute of Mathematical Sciences, will be speaking.  His research interests are statistical mechanics, discrete dynamics and theoretical biology: he is already...

  • Café Scientifique - Pierre Auger Observatory

    17th June 2014

    Pierre Auger Observatory Dr Barry Kellett, a space scientist and astronomer from Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell, will be talking about the Pierre Auger Observatory, designed to detect ultra-high-energy cosmic rays. Located in Argentina, it has a detection area of 1,200 square miles,...

  • Café Scientifique - Old Bones to Aerosols

    20th May 2014

    Old Bones to Aerosols - Small Angle X-ray Scattering at Diamond (the last resort of the Desperate!) In the next of our series of talks by experts from Diamond Light Source, we welcome Prof Nick Terrill in a talk which explores how Small Angle X-Ray Scattering (SAXS) is being used to shed...

  • Café Scientifique - The River of Life - creating new wetland habitats along the Thames

    15th April 2014

    In 2013 Earth Trust and the Environment Agency completed the first phase of this project to create new wetland habitats across 50ha of farmland.  Lizzie Rhymes from the Environment Agency and Chris Parker from the Earth Trust will tell us about the challenges of digging wetland...

  • Café Scientifique - Magnetism – a force to be reckoned with…

    18th March 2014

    Magnetism has fascinated mankind since the time of the ancients.  It is both an interesting property still eluding a full scientific explanation and yet a powerful player in the world of technology. This talk by Paul Steadman (from the Diamond Light Source) will begin with a history of...

  • Café Scientifique - Beamline Crystallography

    18th February 2014

    This month's Café Scientifique talk is entitled "X-rays, proteins and crystals – Diamond & its participation enabling medicinal drug discovery research" and will be given by José Brandao-Neto from Diamond Light Source, Harwell. José is a Senior Beamline Scientist and his...

  • Café Scientifique - To catch the crook you've got to look

    21st January 2014

    To catch the crook you've got to look… – the use of textile fibres in forensic investigations of major crime. This month's Café Sci talk will be given by Tiernan Coyle, who has been a forensic scientist for 17 years, specialising in textile fibres.  His company, Contact...

  • Café Scientifique - Christmas Special

    17th December 2013

    Café Scientifique - Christmas Special We would like to invite you to join us on Tuesday 17th December from 7.30pm in Cornerstone’s Café Bar area for our Christmas Café Scientifique.  We’re delighted that we’ll be welcoming Chris Maslanka, the Guardian’s puzzle expert, who will once again be...

  • Technical aspects concerning the demolition of Didcot A Power Station

    19th November 2013

    Following the recent news that Didcot A is to be demolished within the next 3 years, Didcot First is delighted that the Project Director for the demolition contractors has agreed to give a talk about how this will actually be achieved. What are the technical problems which will need to be...

  • Cafe Scientifique - Counting Light - Bringing CERN Technology to Diamond

    15th October 2013

    David Omar, is an Electronic Engineer who has recently  moved from mobile communications to radiation detectors for Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchrotron.  Synchrotron light can be as much as 100 billion times brighter than the sun, so popping on sun glasses and...

  • Café Scientifique - Archaeological Dating

    17th September 2013

    The next Café Scientifique will take place on 17th September at Cornerstone, Didcot.  Tom Higham, Professor of Archaeological Science at the University of Oxford, will speak about his work on dating the disappearance of Neanderthals and the arrival of the first modern humans in...

  • Cafe Scientifique - The Oxfordshire Adder Project

    Cafe Scientifique - The Oxfordshire Adder Project

    20th August 2013

    We are delighted to confirm that this month’s Café Scientifique will be taking place at the Sutton Courtenay Environment Education Centre in Sutton Courtenay (SCEEC) on Tuesday 20th August at 7.30pm. Neil Clennell, Head of Conservation & Education for Oxfordshire at the Berkshire,...

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