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Talking Science at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

Talking Science at RAL front cover

Talking Science at RAL brochure, 2019-20
Click to open brochure (PDF, 2754 KB)
(Credit: STFC)

This series of fascinating and FREE monthly scientific lectures by invited speakers takes place at STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory every month.

Book your place

Booking is essential and can be done online:

Book online

Talks will be released on the 5th of each month for the following month, e.g. the October talk will be released on 5th September, November talk on 5th October etc.

If you have any queries about Talking Science, or would like to be added to our mailing list, please email us.

The next Talking Science at RAL

Due to the COVID-19 situation, we will be trialling our talks via video chat using software called Zoom. This will commence with the talk on 17th April.

Because our speakers will be giving these talks from their own homes, we will only be putting these lectures on once (at 6pm) instead of the two times that we normally run.

Spaces on our online talks will be limited, so booking will still be necessary. Asking questions will still be possible - these will need to be typed into the Q&A option on the screen.

Zoom is free to use, but you will need to sign up for a free account at https://zoom.us/

Those booked on the event will be sent an email with instructions and a link. This way of presenting is very new to us, so please bear with us whilst we get to grips with the technology. We are trying to continue with the programme as best we can given the circumstances.

Stay safe and we hope to see you on the next e-talk which is:

Rosalind Franklin and her legacy (12+)
Laura Holland, Director of Communications and Culture & Professor James Naismith, Director, The Rosalind Franklin Institute

Rosalind Franklin was an extraordinary multidisciplinary scientist, whose work with DNA contributed to the greatest discovery in biology in the 20th century. In this talk, Jim Naismith and Laura Holland of The Rosalind Franklin Institute will discuss her life as a researcher, and why Franklin’s name was given to this new research institute, which will have a home on the Harwell Campus

Forthcoming talks

Due to the Covid-19 situation, we will be running the rest of this series of talks by live online video talks via a programme called Zoom. To participate, you will need to sign up for a free account at https://zoom.us/

To watch the talk live, you will still need to register via Eventbrite so we can contact you with the login details for the talks.

  • Friday 15 May 18:00 - From citizen science to genetics: How can you help us tackle the resistance of tuberculosis to antibiotics? By Dr Philip W Fowler, Nuffield Department of Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital, University of Oxford (12+)
  • Friday 12 June 18:00 - Saving the Mary Rose cannonballs by Hayley Simon, UCL/Diamond  (all ages)

Past talks

If you missed out on any of our current series of talks, you can catch up online (Adobe Flash Player required). From the left hand menu please select STFC Public Lectures and then select RAL - Talking Science Series. Please note that not all speakers give their permission for their talks to be filmed.

Further information

All talks last for approximately 1 hour, with 15 minutes for questions.

Lunch and lunchtime talks

Attendees are permitted to arrive from 12:00 for the lunchtime talks if they wish to purchase lunch in the restaurant. Arrival before this time is not permitted as it causes significant congestion in main reception and the short stay car park.

Limited parking is available onsite next to the Visitor Centre. Once parking is full, attendees will need to park in the new overflow car park (please see map). As this is a working laboratory, we regret that we cannot book parking spaces either regular or disabled and cannot predict what will be available on any given day.

Evening talks

Attendees are permitted to arrive from 18:30 for a 19:00 start in the Lecture Theatre. Please drive straight up to the security barrier where a member of our team will register you, advise where to park and direct you to the Lecture Theatre. Late arrivals (7pm+) will need to report to Security within the Reception building as there will be no one at the gate by this time.

For information on how to get to RAL please follow the link below.

How to get to RAL


  • Let there be light – John O'Hagan (Friday 8 February 2019)
  • Chemistry & computers: simulating the machines of life – William Glass (Friday 18 January 2019)
  • The star of Bethlehem – Dr Barry Kellett (Friday 14 December 2018)
  • Seeing cancer before it’s cancer: illuminating the way with ALICE by seeing the invisible – Dr Michele Siggel-King (Friday 14 June 2018)
  • Building a time machine: The engineering of the James Webb Space Telescope and its Mid-InfraRed Instrument – Paul Eccleston (Friday 8 December 2017)
  • Pressing FIRE on the most powerful laser in the world – Dr Ceri Brenner (Friday 24 November 2017)
  • A is for Arsenic: The poisons of Agatha Christie – Dr Kathryn Harkup (Friday 13 October 2017)
  • Dangerous Worlds – Dr Elizabeth Tasker (Friday 8 September 2017)
  • Black holes: science fact, fiction or fantasy? – Prof. Chris Done (Friday 28 July 2017)
  • To catch a monopole – Dr Tom Whyntie (Friday 19 May 2017)
  • Exploring the deep: ocean vs space – Russell Arnott (Friday 7 April 2017)
  • Discovering the Universe from beneath the surface – Emma Meehan (Friday 24 March 2017)
  • Cardiff University and BBC Sky at Night presenter – Dr Chris North (Friday 7 October 2016)
  • Nuclear Power: Digging Deep and Aiming High – Dr Claire Corkhill (Friday 16 September 2016)
  • The Oldest Light in the Universe – Dr Chris Pearson (Friday 10 June 2016)
  • Indestructible Energy – Dr Jamie Gallagher (Friday 20 May 2016)
  • The Oldest Light in the Universe – Dr Chris Pearson (Friday 10 June 2016)
  • Why Bats Don’t Get Fresher’s Flu - Dr Tom August (Friday 15 April 2016)
  • Vaccines for old and new pathogens - Professor Helen McShane (Friday 11 March 2016)
  • Insects: Sex, violence and a cast of billions - Dr George McGavin (Friday 17 February 2016)
  • Hypothesis Hunter: Adventures in the Inner Space of the Face – Dr Todd C. Rae (Friday 11 December 2015)
  • LHC: The Higgs and what comes next – Prof. William Murray (Friday 27 November 2015)
  • Eat my Science – Stefan Gates (Friday 30 October 2015)
  • World Space Week: How the Earth takes selfies! - Dan Wicks and Sam Adlen (Friday 9 October 2015)
  • European Researchers’ Night: One night, several hundred cities all over Europe and beyond! (Friday 25 September 2015)
  • Henry Moseley: a scientist lost to war – Russell Egdell and Andy Dent (Thursday 17 September/Friday 18 September 2015)
  • Revealing Silken Secrets – Dr. Ann Terry (Friday 19 June 2015)
  • Manufacturing Regenerative Therapies – Dr. Karen Coopman (Friday 8 May 2015)
  • Nuclear Energy – The Facts Behind the Fuss – Dr. John Roberts (Monday 13 April 2015)
  • The Light Fantastic – Diamond Light Source, RAL Space and the Central Laser Facility (Friday 20 March 2015)
  • Eat, Play, Collide! - Dr. Suzie Sheehy (Friday 20 February 2015)
  • Finding Richard III: The Grey Friars Project - Dr Turi King (Friday 6 January 2015)
  • Comets Near and Far - Prof Alan Fitzsimmons (Friday 5 December 2014)
  • “Why Blood is Red and Grass is Green” – what we and the things around us, are made of – Prof. Simon Phillips (Friday 21 November 2014)
  • The Ugly Animal Roadshow - Simon Watt (Friday 31 October 2014)
  • Engineering Past and Future - Prof John Womersley (Tuesday 21 October 2014 - Café Scientifique)
  • Cayman Caves and Past Life in Paradise - Prof Phil Manning (Friday 25 September 2014)
  • Exploring the universe near and far: Highlights from ESA's space science programme - Prof Mark McCaughrean (Monday 9 June 2014)
  • The Building Blocks of the Universe - Dr Emannuel Olaiya (Friday 9 May 2014)
  • The Story of Crystallography: How the Braggs Changed the World 03 September
  • Chemical Magic - Dr Malcolm Stewart and Dr Fabrice Birembaut (Friday 19 April)
  • What earthworms know about climate change - Professor Mark Hodson (Friday 25 January 2013)
  • Science Circus Show - Dr Ken Farquhar (Friday 15 February)
  • Inserting dinosaurs into synchrotrons - Phil Manning (Friday 8 March) 
  • Higgs Boson - Dr William Murray (Friday 07 December 2012)
  • Physics and the Games IOP - David James and Leon Foster, Sheffield Hallam University (Friday 16 November 2012)
  • Life on Mars - Steve Cutts (Friday 5 October 2012)
  • Power mad - Dr Dan Faircloth (Friday 20 April 2012) 
  • An astronaut in space - Tim Peake (Friday 11 May 2012) 
  • Creative sparks and celestial fire - Christopher Parkin (Friday 8 June 2012) 
  • Ernest Rutherford and the big bang machine - Dr Bruce Kennedy (20 January 2012) 
  • It takes guts - The Science Museum Team (17 February 2012) 
  • A nourishing legacy: Sport, nutrition and communities - Peter Wootton-Beard (30 March 2012)
  • Surfing to the stars... A life in Astronomy - Amy Tyndall (09 December 2011) 
  • X-rays to antimatter - Dr Michael wilson (25 November 2011) 
  • Super intense lasers - Ceri Brenner (14 October 2011) 
  • How alien invaders can change governments - Chris Frost (06 May 2011)
  • In search of the northern lights - Jim Wild (25 May 2011) 
  • The big squeeze - putting materials under pressure - Colin Pulham (24 June 2011) 
  • Nuclear physics - past and present - David Jenkins (21 January 2011) 
  • Astronomy - an incredible journey of discovery - Marek Kukula (16 February 2011) 
  • Reading the unreadable, probing manuscripts beyond the written word - Tim Wess (11 March 2011) 
  • Cows in the Maze - mathematical explorations - Ian Stewart (12 November 2010) 
  • Focus on fusion - Dr Melanie Windridge (3 December 2010) 
  • 50 years of the laser and its implications in medicine - Taj Bhutta / Mahmood Bhutta (15 October 2010) 
  • Antimatter - Professor Frank Close (15 January 2010) 
  • Nuclear chocolate bars and laser light shows - Dr Elizabeth Ainsbury and Dr John O'Hagen (24 February 2010) 
  • Darwin's Islands - Dr David Robertson (26 March 2010) 
  • The Large Hadron Collider: Big science, big bangs and black holes - Dr Kristian Harder (14 May 2010) 
  • The genetics of ear diseases, and Fair Trade in the NHS - Mahmood Bhutta (18 June 2010)

Last updated: 09 April 2020


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