I gave a talk on Wednesday evening at the Science Gallery in Trinity College Dublin, as part of the Alchemist Cafe series. It was great to be back at the Gallery, I’ve fond memories of participating in the RAW debates there last year (see blog posts on the debates here).
The Alchemist Cafe is the Irish branch of the international Cafe Scientifique movement: the idea is to get a scientist or engineer to give an informal talk on a scientific topic in a cafe/bar setting, with plenty of questions and discussion afterwards. You can find abstracts and videos of previous talks on their website above.
I gave a short spiel titled ‘The Big Bang: Fact or Fiction?”. I thought it would be fun to go over the three basic planks of evidence for the model and then discuss some modern results (from the accelerating universe to WMAP measurements of the cosmicrowave background). The rest of the session was given over to questions and discussion.
It seemed to work well, I thought the Science Gallery cafe a particularly good setting. One whole side of the cafe is a glass window onto the street and we projected the images I used onto the opposite wall, with the audience in between. It made for a nice relaxed atmosphere.
The Naughton Institute and the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin
Photos courtesy of The Alchemist Cafe
There were plenty of good questions, on topics as diverse as unified field theory and dark energy. I wish I’d taken note of the questions, must check with the organisers if someone did. Turnout was a big surprise – a few friends turned up at 8.05 and couldn’t get in! It’s amazing the public interest in cosmology, I guess everyone has heard of the Big Bang and Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.
P.S. The Gallery is currently exhibiting INFECTIOUS, an excellent show on the spread of infectious diseases: well worth seeing and highly relevant given the news on swine flu…