Talking Science with RAL 2022-23

23rd June 2023, 1:30 – 7:00 pm

BACK IN PERSON! Our fascinating and FREE monthly scientific lectures by invited speakers take place once a month from September to June.

As part of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory’s Talking Science programme, we have a fantastic series of talks lined up for you, and we do hope you’ll be able to join us for them! The talks cover everything from the music of the stars to the science of the incredibly small.

We will be running Talking Science as hybrid events – you are able to attend either:

  • in person, in our Lecture Theatre at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, or
  • online via Zoom webinar.
  • Listening to the music of stars – Friday 21 April 2023 (13:30 and 19:00), with Dr Oliver Hall (European Space Agency/ESA)(10+)

On a cycle of every five minutes, the Sun becomes brighter and dimmer — it vibrates, due to sound waves trapped under its surface, like a musical instrument. These vibrations occur on all kinds of stars, and the study of them is called asteroseismology. While you won’t be able to see these changes in brightness with your own eye, we can see them with modern telescopes! In this way, we can “listen” to the music the stars are making.

The study of asteroseismology has been used to understand how the Sun is built, to see how the deepest cores of giant stars rotate, and to find exact ages of distant solar systems different to our own, just to name a few! In this talk, you’ll get a brief introduction into how stars make ‘music’, and how we can use that music in our research to study different things about stars, such as how big and how heavy they are, and how fast they’re spinning!

  • The magic of laser levitation – Friday 19 May 2023 (13:30 and 19:00), with Dr Andy Ward (STFC) (15+)

In this talk, Andy will explore the science of using laser beams to capture and levitate a range of microscopic particles; from mimicking droplets in clouds, studying pollution, sorting through bacteria, tearing apart oil droplets and building microstructures in air. Even though it sounds like the work of science fiction, but Andy will cover, in simple terms, how the photons in a laser beam can exert enough force to hold microdroplets and bacteria. In a world of climate change, pollution and the airborne transmission of virus there are many benefits to this exciting area of research.

  • Dinosaurs, brains and aeroplanes – Friday 23 June 2023 (13:30 and 19:00), with Professor Phil Manning (University of Manchester) (12+)

Dinosaurs and their descendants the birds have provided fertile ground for studying the evolution of life on Earth, but how we study and understand extinct animals is changing with the advent of new technology. Therefore questions that were once impossible to ask, are now beginning to grow exciting new areas of research. Questions such as ‘Can dinosaurs impact our understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease?’ Or ‘How can we design super-strength new materials inspired by extinct life?’ …these and many other splendid questions are being asked for the very first time

If you have any questions, please do let us know at