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Faculty Christmas Lectures for Schools 2013

Posted on 11/12/2013

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The Great Hall was buzzing with activity on Wednesday 4th December 2013, as the School of Natural & Mathematical Sciences (NMS) held its annual Christmas Lectures. Students from schools in and around London came out en masse to hear seven exciting talks from academics at King’s. The Christmas Lectures form part of the School’s events programme, and are aimed at year 12 and 13 students considering science, technology, mathematics or engineering at university.  

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The morning’s event began with a welcome from Professor Michael Luck, who instead of citing King’s historical achievements, focused on King’s now and more recent success stories, including the fact that two alumni from the School  have been awarded Nobel prizes this year. Professor Luck welcomed students and visitors to King’s College London and went on to introduce the first speaker, Dr Wayne Dickson.

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Dr Wayne Dickson, (Department of Physics) presented a lecture entitled ‘Atmospheric light’. His talk focused on the Tyndall effect – the scattering of a beam of light by a medium containing small suspended particles, mirages and more recent research, including invisibility cloaks. 

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Next to address the audience was Dr Amanda Coles (Department of Informatics) who spoke about ‘The travelling Santa problem: an algorithm is for life, not just for Christmas’. Her lecture took on a particularly Christmassy feel, as she took us on a journey across continents to find out how many possible routes Santa could take to deliver his presents! Dr Rivka Isaacson (Department of Chemistry) delivered a lecture entitled ‘Cramming my Christmas stocking: the importance of shapes and packing in biology’.  Her lecture touched upon DNA coding and genes and the chemical structures of amino acids. 

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This lecture was followed by a refreshment break, during which students could experiment with an octopus-inspired medical robot!

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After the break Dr Cristin Buescu (Department of Mathematics) spoke about ‘Making orange juice with your toaster: why we need a better understanding of mathematics to avoid a financial crisis’. This lecture focused on the possible causes of the recent financial crisis and differential equations as mathematical tools. 

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Dr Hana Chockler’s (Department of Informatics) lecture entitled ‘Why was I late for school?’ took us through the process of correctly setting an alarm clock and the means to check computerised components. Dr Sarah Barry (Department of Chemistry) spoke about ‘How chemistry makes Christmas yummy’. Her lecture focused on the concept of smell and how certain foods and spices, particularly those common at Christmas, such as cinnamon and turkey, come to smell the way they do. Dr Barry's lecture left us all feeling very hungry! The final lecture was given by Dr Oleg Aslanidi (Biomedical Engineering) whose lecture was titled ‘Simulate me: engineering the virtual human’. His talk led us through a current project to simulate the human body and replicate the heart, muscle movement and blood flow of a human.

The lectures were followed by mince pies and hot chocolate, and a chance to tour the campus. Students went away from the Christmas Lectures with a better understanding of what King’s can offer as well as an insight into the modern world of science and mathematics. 

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Check out our Flickr page for all the photos.

 

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