Past Events

Alchemist Café, Athlone

Once again the Midlands Science Festival has a great variety of events lined up for Science Week. Throughout the week they will be running workshops, exhibitions, talks and everything in between. We are delighted to say that this also includes two evenings of Alchemist Cafés…

Join Ireland’s best known scientist Professor Luke O’Neill, an amazing science communicator and Síle Lane of Sense about Science for an evening of discussion and debate about the hot issues in science and how they affect our lives.

Prof Luke O’Neill was a huge hit at last year’s festival and he has recently been named in the top 1% of scientists world-wide due to his ground-breaking work in immunology. Sile Lane is passionate about science and encouraging people to ask for the evidence in a world where it is often difficult to distinguish between science and pseudoscience or clever marketing.

Join these two inspiring science communicators for an entertaining evening of science discovery and discussion. This evening will be chaired by award-winning broadcaster Jonathan McCrea of Newstalk’s Futureproof programme. Places are limited so please book early.

Date: Tuesday, November 11th 2014
Time: 8pm
Location: Athlone IT, Dublin Road, Athlone, Co. Westmeath
Cost: Free with tickets available on EventBrite

For more information on this and all the other interesting events checkout the Midlands Science Festival Events page.

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October 2014’s Alchemist Café

Murderous Maths with Kjartan Poskitt

Enjoy an evening with the author of the phenomenally successful ‘Murderous Maths” series of books! Kjartan Poskitt is the author of Scholastic’s “Murderous Maths” series which have sold over 1,500,000 copies world wide.

His latest book “Everyday Maths For Grown Ups” is written to help adults who have never quite grasped how sums work. Over the last 10 years he has entertained schools, teacher conferences and theatre audiences with items from his books including strange numbers, bizarre facts, tricks, predictions, flexagons and magic squares, and he has presented numerous science and maths programmes for BBC TV.

Date: Tuesday 14th October 2014
Location: The Mercantile, Dame St, Dublin 2
Time: 7:30 pm
Admission: Free – All Welcome! Complimentary Finger Food Provided

This event is part of Maths Week 2014 and is in association with Discover Science & Engineering and CPL

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September 2014’s Alchemist Café

Space Week 2014 Event

We are delighted to be hosting two fantastic speakers in the run up to World Space Week. Créidhe O’Sullivan and Peter Gallagher will be discussing a variety of topics including what happened in the early universe and the merits of funding space exploration.

Dr. Créidhe O’Sullivan graduated with a B.Sc. in Experimental Physics from UCD before completing a PhD in Physics at Cambridge University where she made observations of temperature fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background radiation. She joined the Experimental Physics Department of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth in 1998 and is a member of the Far-infrared and Submillimetre Space Astrophysics group. The group works on a number of on-going international research programmes into the development of space- and ground-based astronomical instrumentation. Her current projects include cosmic microwave background telescopes, bolometric interferometry and detector arrays. space

Dr. Peter T. Gallagher is a solar physicist and an Associate Professor of Physics at Trinity College Dublin. His research is primarily concerned with understanding the fundamental physics of solar storms and their impacts on Earth. He has a long association with ESA and NASA and leads the Irish LOFAR radio telescope project. His group also works with a number of companies including Skytek Ltd., Lockheed-Martin, and Eirgrid. Peter is a Member of the Institute of Physics, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a Member of the American Astronomical Society and Vice-Chair of the Royal Irish Academy‘s Astronomy and Space Research Committee. He was an elected member of ESA’s Solar System Working Group, which is responsible for European Space Agency mission evaluation for 2015-2025.

Date: Tuesday 30th September 2014
Location: The Mercantile, Dame St, Dublin 2
Time: 7:30 pm
Admission: Free – All Welcome! Complimentary Finger Food Provided

This event is in association with Discover Science & Engineering and CPL

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January 2014’s Alchemist Café

Robotic Future or Fantasy?Conor McGinn, PhD candidate in TCD Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering will spark an audience discussion of the potential uses, challenges and ethics of robotics research.

Conor’s research is primarily in the design and control of autonomous robotic systems. He has built various robots including an autonomous robotic wheelchair, a 30cm tall biped, a quadrotor and a 400lb rover. Conor founded Trinity Robotics Club and is Secretary of Robotics Ireland, a national organisation established to promote robotics in Ireland.

the thinker1

Date: Tuesday 14th January 2014
Location: The Mercantile, Dame St, Dublin 2
Time: 7:30 pm
Admission: Free – All Welcome! Complimentary Finger Food Provided

This event is in association with Discover Science & Engineering and CPL

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December 2013’s Alchemist Café

Could Flossing Save Your Life?Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death, accounting for 33% of all deaths in Ireland. It is estimated that 4 out of 5 of us have got some degree of gum disease. The mouth is home to about 700 different species of bacteria. If you have bleeding gums, it suggests that you may have open blood vessels in your mouth. When bacteria get into the bloodstream they encounter tiny blood cells called platelets (involved in blood clotting). By sticking to the platelets, bacteria can cause them to clot inside blood vessels, partially blocking them. This can prevent the blood flow back to the heart and we run the risk of suffering a heart attack. Teeth Alchemist Cafe Dec 2013

Dr. Steven Kerrigan is a researcher investigating this connection at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI). He has been interested in this area for over a decade, completing his PhD on the bacteria-platelet relationship back in 2001. His team has developed a device that mimics conditions inside blood vessels to investigate how the bacteria encounter and stick to platelets. They have also managed to identify a drug target to regulate this relationship. Steve will introduce this fascinating topic to us at The Alchemist Café, Dublin and an interactive audience discussion will follow.

Date: Tuesday 3rd December 2013
Location: The Mercantile, Dame St, Dublin 2
Time: 7:30 pm
Admission: Free – All Welcome!

This event is in association with Discover Science & Engineering and CPL

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November 2013’s 3rd Alchemist Café

An Alchemist Café for the Midlands Science Festival 2013, this unique free event will provide an insight into the sometimes accidental and always fascinating world of drug discovery.

An Evening of Drug Discovery & Maths Busking

In a tour of the world of drug development covering everything from LSD to Viagra, this excellent communicator of the wonders of science, and previous Alchemist Café, Dublin speaker, Professor Luke O’Neill will make sure you think twice the next time you take a drug for granted.The evening will also include a performance by the multi-award winning Maths Buskers from the UK, who have combined a love of maths with busking and stand-up comedy techniques to engage more people with maths. The Maths Buskers will be joined by new local Maths Buskers who have just completed their training for their debut performance.

The event will start at 8pm and may be recorded so all guests are asked to arrive on time.

A reception will be held in the foyer of the theatre from 7.30pm and the event will be chaired by Jonathan McCrea of Newstalk.

pill cocktail

Prof. Luke O’Neill, Professor of Biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin

Luke was awarded the prestigious RDS Irish Times Boyle Medal for Scientific Excellence for his pioneering work on the molecular understanding of innate immunity and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. “Luke is a fantastic ambassador for Irish science”, the judges said. Since being announced as the 2009 Boyle Medal Laureate, Professor O’Neill has received the Dan Perry Award for Immunology from McGill University and has been named as a Distinguished Lecturer at Oxford University and Science Foundation Ireland’s Researcher of the Year. He regularly contributes to the public discussion of science at events and in broadcast media.

Date: Friday 15th November 2013
Location: Athlone Little Theatre, St Mary’s Place, Athlone, Westmeath

Time: 7:30 pm
Admission: Free – All Welcome! Please book here

This event is in association with Atlantic Corridor, Discover Science & Engineering and CPL and forms part of national Science Week 2013

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November 2013’s 2nd Alchemist Café

The Powerful and Mysterious Mind

Join leading Canadian neuroscientist Prof Deborah Saucier and psychologist, and previous Alchemist Café, Dublin speaker, Dr Arlene Egan for a fascinating evening exploring the science of the mind. How do we make decisions? How to find our way in the world? How do we read maps? Are there differences in how men and women think?This lively evening of discussion and debate about our mind and how it works will be chaired by leading strategic thinker and management consultant Paul O’Kelly. An Alchemist Café for the Midlands Science Festival 2013, this event will make you think about how you think and what you think. Shiny Blue Brain Image

Dr. Arlene Egan, Psychologist, Coach and Innovation Specialist

Arlene is a psychologist who completed a masters in sports psychology and then Cognitive Psychology, specialising in critical thinking, at PhD level at University College Dublin. She lectures on the Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning at National College of Ireland and is a Managing Director at Building2Think and a Director of MyMind. She works in developing individuals and teams in business, education, and sports.

Dr. Deborah Saucier, Professor and Chair, Department of Neuroscience at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT)

Deborah received her PhD in Psychology from the University of Western Ontario (UWO) in London, Ontario and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Neuropsychology at UWO in 1995. She has given TED talks on the role of the humanities in science and her PhD work focused on the differences between men and women’s brains when it comes to spatial awareness.  She has been described as “a kick-ass neuroscientist” and a fellow scientist described her enthusiasm as follows – “Deb stands out for the depth, breadth, pace and quality of her engagement with life.”

Date: Wednesday 13th November 2013
Location: Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre, Bury Quay, Tullamore, Offaly
Time: 7:30 pm
Admission: Free – All Welcome! Please book here

This event is in association with Atlantic Corridor, Discover Science & Engineering and CPL and forms part of national Science Week 2013

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November 2013’s 1st Alchemist Café

The Alchemist Café, Dublin is going on tour for the Midlands Science Festival 2013 with a feast of three cafés!

An interactive evening with two leading neuroscientists exploring the mind and how it works.

Prof. Gary Donohoe, NUIG Professor & Established Chair of PsychologyGary was appointed to the school of psychology as Professor of psychology in July 2013. Many of us have regrets about the past and worries about the future that affect our mental health. Since the time of Descartes the belief that what goes on in our in our minds is somehow separate from our bodies has been widely held. Advances in neuroscience have fundamentally challenged this view and there is a greater understanding of how the brain tries to make sense of our experiences. This talk will highlight some of these major advances in understanding how our brain shapes our thinking, leaving us more vulnerable or more resilient. Brain Image

Dr. Deborah Saucier, Professor and Chair, Department of Neuroscience at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT)

Deborah received her PhD in Psychology from the University of Western Ontario (UWO) in London, Ontario and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Neuropsychology at UWO in 1995. She has given TED talks on the role of the humanities in science and her PhD work focused on the differences between men and women’s brains when it comes to spatial awareness.  She has been described as “a kick-ass neuroscientist” and a fellow scientist described her enthusiasm as follows – “Deb stands out for the depth, breadth, pace and quality of her engagement with life.”

Date: Tuesday 12th November 2013
Location: Athlone Little Theatre, St Mary’s Place, Athlone, Westmeath
Time: 7:30 pm
Admission: Free – All Welcome! Please book here

This event is in association with Atlantic Corridor, Discover Science & Engineering and CPL and forms part of national Science Week 2013

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October 2013’s 2nd Alchemist Café

Maths and the Céide Fields

The neolithic site at Céide Fields in County Mayo, Ireland, contains the oldest known stone-walled fields in the world, dating back more than 5000 years (older than the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge). The Céide Fields is a network of parallel stone enclosures with many of the walls running as far as two kilometers in length. Ten square kilometres of the site have been mapped. Patrick Caulfield, a local schoolteacher, first discovered the site during the 1930s. Patrick’s son, Seamus, grew up to be an archaeologist, and it was he who began the first true excavation of the Céide Fields in 1970. Screen shot 2013-10-03 at 16.48.46

Seamus Caulfield, Retired Associate Professor of Archaeology (UCD) has been involved with the archaeology of the site since its discovery and has observed mathematical patterns which can help explain the site. He will discuss the mathematics associated with the Céide Fields and open up a discussion about what it can teach us.

This event will be the perfect appetiser for Maths Week 2013!

Date: Tuesday 8th October 2013
Location: The Mercantile, Dame St, Dublin 2
Time: 7:30 pm
Admission: Free – All Welcome!

This event is in association with Discover Science & Engineering and CPL

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October 2013’s 1st Alchemist Café

“I Don’t Want To Live On This Planet Anymore!”

Come join the Mars debate as The Alchemist Café, Dublin, in association with the Irish celebration of World Space Week, hosts an evening of informal discussion where anyone can come to explore the issues surrounding the ethics of visiting Mars, knowing that they won’t be coming back.

Dr. Joseph Roche from Science Gallery will kick things off by telling us his reasons for applying for a one-way mission to Mars (Mars One) and open an interactive discussion about whether we would apply and what living on Mars could be like. Dr. Roche is an astrophysicist who studied in the laboratory of Prof. Peter Gallagher, the well-known Irish solar physicist in Trinity College Dublin and previous Alchemist Café speaker. His PhD research was on a fascinating sub-group of stars known as symbiotic stars, pairs of very different stars which orbit each other.

Mars_Earth_small

Date: Saturday 5th October 2013
Location: The Gingerman (upstairs), Fenian St, Dublin 2
Time: 7:00 pm
Admission: Free – All Welcome!

This event is part of World Space Week and is in association with CPL and Discover Science & Engineering.

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