Monthly Meetings

All monthly meetings begin at 7:30 promptly and are open to NLO members and general public.

Our 2018 Schedule is

Date Topic Speaker
8th January Nuclear Spin – Its Great Impact on Physics, Chemistry and Medicine Dr Keith Orrell
12th February Optics and Metamaterials Euan Hendry (Exeter University)
12th March Cosmology: From the Big Bang through the Dark Ages and to Cosmic Dawn Sarah Bosman (UCL)
9th April Contact with ETI – How will it affect us? Martin Griffiths (Dark Sky Wales)
14th May Artificial Intelligence Leigh Edwards
11th June Ancient Egyptian Astronomy Pauline Norris
10th September Leicester’s Space Rockets Roger D Cooper
8th October The State of the Universe Prof. Ed Copeland (University of Nottingham)


“The State of the Universe” by Prof. Ed Copeland (University of Nottingham) – Monday 8th October at 7.30pm

Over the last decade or so, observations of a number of features present in our Universe have led to a growing consensus that on large scales at least the Universe is pretty simple to understand. It looks to be well described by General Relativity, very uniform with structures being seeded from gravitational instability whose origin resides somewhere in the earliest moments of the Universe’s evolution. The energy content appears to be made up of baryons (~5%), cold dark matter (~25%) and dark energy (~70%), and everything seems to be consistent with the Universe being spatially flat and having an origin some 13.8 billion years ago.

But when we delve a bit deeper there appear to be a number of features we actually don’t understand. What is the dark matter made of, what is the dark energy that is driving the Universe into a period of acceleration and what were the origins of the seed fluctuations from which all structures emerged?

Inflation seems to be the favourite candidate for the latter, but where does inflation reside in particle physics? It seems pretty hard to incorporate in models of the early Universe.

In this talk we will revisit some of the exciting recent data to address a number of these questions and also ask whether we are barking up the wrong tree. Maybe we are seeing the first evidence of modifications of General Relativity on large scales – if we are how can we test for it?

“Leicester’s Space Rockets” by Roger D Cooper – 10th September 2018

During the period between 1961 and 1978 the University of Leicester Space Research Group was active in launching scientific experiments on Britain’s Skylark Rocket. These were launched from Woomera in Australia, Sardinia, Norway and Spain. With over 50 scientific payloads flown during this period Leicester has become a world class Astrophysics authority in galactic and extra galactic X-Ray Astronomy.

Ancient Egyptian Astronomy” by Pauline Norris – 11th June 2018

The ancient Egyptians were adept naked-eye star gazers and calendar compilers. Life in the Nile Valley depended on the annual flooding of the Nile – the Inundation – and it was this occurrence, coupled with the heliacal rising of Sirius, that formed the basis of their religious calendar. This talk looks at how the Egyptians employed astronomy in their belief system, focusing on the measurement of time and calendars, the alignment of their monuments, what they ‘saw’ in the sky and what they made of what fell out of it!

Pauline obtained a Master of Philosophy degree in Agricultural Science at the University of Aberystwyth, Wales. She then studied Egyptology, passed her Masters at the University of Birmingham and subsequently graduated with a Doctorate in Egyptology from the University of Manchester. She is an independent researcher and a member of Newtown Astronomy Society in Powys, Mid-Wales.

Artificial Intelligence” by Leigh Edwards – 14th May 2018.
AI – what’s behind it, what are the risks and benefits?
This is a change from the previously published talk.

Contact with Extra Terrestrial Intelligence – How will it affect us?” by Martin Griffiths – 9th April 2018.

Astronomers have been looking for extraterrestrial life for many years. Although techniques and instrumentation are becoming increasingly sophisticated, what would be our response as a human society should we ever find intelligence in the cosmos? This lecture will examine the various contact scenarios and delve into the potential scientific, religious, social and philosophical effects that contact with ETI may bring.

Nuclear Spin – Its Great Impact on Physics, Chemistry and Medicine” by Dr Keith Orrell – 8th January 2018

Dr Keith Orrell presents a personal tribute to Sir Rex Richards, an outstanding scientist who has strong East Devon connections and whose life has strongly impinged on his own scientific career. He describes the remarkable story of how a discovery in fundamental physics has led to a spectroscopic technique that has transformed how chemists are able to identify molecular structures, and how this technique has been the precursor to an amazingly powerful and safe scanning method that medical clinicians have developed for all types of medical diagnosis.