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Café Scientifique

Café Scientifique Manchester

Cafe Scientifique is a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. Meetings take place in cafes, bars, restaurants and even theatres, but always outside a traditional academic context.

Cafe Scientifique is a forum for debating science issues, not a shop window for science. We are committed to promoting public engagement with science and to making science accountable.

When: 7.30pm on the last Thursday of every month

Where: The MadLab, 36-40 Edge Street, M4 1HN 

Date 25 February 2016
Title Vampire Plant Diaries
Speaker Dr Jennifer Rowntree

Most plants make food by processing energy from the sun and taking up essential nutrients from the soil. There are a group of plants, however, that steal all or some of their food from other plants. These are the parasitic or ‘vampire’ plants and include well-known and culturally important groups such as mistletoe. Dr Rowntree will introduce these fascinating plants to you. She will explain the varied ways in which they obtain their food and the impacts that they can have on managed and natural systems. While a parasite is always bad news for its host, some parasitic plants can also provide benefits that help other species to survive, giving rise to a host of interesting and often surprising interactions.

Date 31 March 2016
Title Changing the world with contact lenses
Speaker Prof Philip Morgan

This presentation will review the success or otherwise of contact lenses around the world.  Perhaps three billion people require vision correction yet only around 150 million are contact lens wearers.  Despite the clear advances in contact lens materials and designs in the past 40 years, there are still great opportunities for future improvements and the main challenges ahead will be outlined in this talk.  The three key battleground which remain are solving end of day discomfort, understanding and exploiting the mechanisms behind inflammation and infection during lens wear, and creating a lens which overcomes the visual challenges of presbyopia.  The presentation will also consider other uses of contact lenses such as drug delivery, disease monitoring and 'smart lenses' for information delivery.


Philip Morgan is Professor of Optometry and Director of Eurolens Research at The University of Manchester.  His main research interests relate to the clinical performance of contact lenses and he teaches on the same subject area at undergraduate and postgraduate level.  Philip is President-Elect of the International Society for Contact Lens Research and Vice President of the International Association of Contact Lens Educators.  He is an honorary member of the UK Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers, a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and the British Contact Lens Association, and a member of the UK College of Optometrists.  Philip was the BCLA Medallist in 2014 and BCLA Pioneer’s Lecturer in 2015.  He has authored over 200 papers, primarily relating to the clinical performance of contact lenses and the nature of the UK and international contact lens markets, and has spoken about his work in more than 30 countries worldwide.  Philip is an adopted Lancastrian, proud Northerner and perpetually miserable Sunderland supporter.

Date 28 April 2016
Title What Can Meteorites Tell Us About the Early Solar System?
Speaker Prof Jamie Gilmour

Asteroids are the leftovers of planet formation and so provide a snapshot of what material went to make the Earth, where it had come from, and what processes were occurring 4.5 billion years ago. One way we can read this record is to study meteorites, which are mostly fragments of asteroids (some come from the Moon and Mars). Professor Jamie Gilmour's lab in The University of Manchester are part of the international community studying meteorites. In this session, Professor Gilmour will talk about different types of meteorites, how we analyse them, and what they tell us about the material that went on to make the Earth.

Organisers: Bo YaoDeborah Talmi

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