Past Events

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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July 2013’s Alchemist Cafe

Why isn’t the world more weird?

Quantum physics predicts some pretty amazing things, such as that objects can be in two different places at the same time, and that we can teleport matter. The most amazing aspect of this area of physics, though, is that it has all been tested and is all true! However, we struggle to see quantum effects in anything but the tiniest particles.

If nature on the tiny scale behaves in strange ways, why isn’t the world more weird? Dr. James Millen from The Quantum Workshop will talk you through why it’s difficult to see quantum effects, how we may get around these problems, and just how far we can push quantum physics into our everyday lives.

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Date: Tuesday 23rd July 2013
Location: The Mercantile, Dame St, Dublin 2
Time: 7:30pm (sharp)
Admission: Free – All Welcome!

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April 2013’s Alchemist Cafe

Cities and complexity

The concept of emergence has been around since the time of Aristotle with examples found all across our natural world – from the swarming of birds and fish to the collective intelligence of ants and bees. While these examples are well known, it is only in very recent years that scientists have begun to explore and understand the way that such intricate and complex patterns can arise from such relative simplicity. This new area of science has since become known as the study of ‘complex systems’ and aims to exploit our new found understanding by applying it to analogous examples in our human world.

Dr Hannah Fry from University College London will be talking about how applying these ideas to the workings of a city has the potential to directly influence the way we design our society – from transport to policing and everything in between.

Ants at work by Olivier Bacquet
Ants at work by Olivier Bacquet

Poster for the event, please feel free to print and stick up around your place of work/study (ask permission first).

Date: Tuesday 23rd April 2013
Location: The Mercantile, Dame St, Dublin 2
Time: 7:30pm (sharp)
Admission: Free – All Welcome!

Complimentary finger food will be provided.
This event is in association with CPL and Discover Science & Engineering

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May 2013’s Alchemist Cafe

Can an engaged lifestyle act as a buffer against cognitive decline in ageing?

Alzheimer’s disease, which currently affects 25 million people globally, is a debilitating neurodegenerative disease characterised by dementia and memory loss. While there is no cure and nothing has been shown to prevent the brain pathology associated with the disease hope stems from research that indicates that it is possible to delay the onset of the symptoms.

Cognitive reserve is a theory that has been put forward to explain why certain individuals with full Alzheimer’s disease pathology can live normal lives while others with the same amount of plaques and tangles are totally debilitated by severe symptoms. A growing body of research indicates that lifetime experiences can influence whether we develop symptoms and stimulating activities can help to build cognitive reserve.

Brains! by BinaryApe
Brains! by BinaryApe

With May being the European month of the brain, we have put together a panel discussion in association with the NEIL Programmes at Trinity College Dublin. On the evening we will have Claire O’Connell chairing the discussion with Professor Brian Lawlor (a clinician), Professor Yaakov Stern (a neuroscientist) and Dr. Sabina Brennan (a psychologist).

Date: Tuesday 7th May 2013
Location: The Mercantile, Dame St, Dublin 2
Time: 7:30pm (sharp)
Admission: Free – All Welcome!

Complimentary finger food will be provided.
This event is in association with CPL and Discover Science & Engineering. This event is part of Brain Month 2013.

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March 2013’s Alchemist Cafe

An Optimist’s Tour Of The Future

Mark Stevenson has been to the future a few years ahead of the rest of us and thinks it could have a lot going for it. Based on his first book, he will take us on An Optimist’s Tour of the Future.

Mark combines two careers – one as a successful writer/comedian (writing for stage, radio and print) and another as an expert in future narratives, institutional innovation, engineered serendipity and learning – working with everyone from schoolchildren to the boards of multinational corporations. He is co-founder of Lea(r)n into the Curve, a fellow of the RSA, Nibmaster General at the Ministry of Stories, special advisor to the Virgin Earth Challenge and founder of the League of Pragmatic Optimists.

Date: Tuesday 12th March 2013
Location: The Mercantile, Dame St, Dublin 2
Time: 7:30pm (sharp)
Admission: Free – All Welcome!

An Optimist’s Tour Of The Future

Complimentary finger food will be provided.
This event is in association with CPL and Discover Science & Engineering

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