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Lunch Hour Lectures - Spring 2011



VINTAGE PODCASTS - Lunch Hour Lectures - Spring 2011

UCL's Lunch Hour Lecture Series is an opportunity for anyone to sample the exceptional research work taking place at the university, in bite-size chunks. Speakers are drawn from across UCL and lectures frequently showcase new research and recent academic publications. Lunch Hour Lectures require no pre-booking, are free to attend and are open to anyone on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Podcast Episodes


Episode 1: Would you give your right arm to protect your heart?

During a heart attack the cells that make up the muscle of the heart are subjected to a restricted blood supply, this is usually caused by a blood clot or a narrowing of the coronary arteries. If the blood supply is not restored quickly it will result in the death of the heart muscle, and to protect against this injury, blood clot prevention drugs, inflating balloons and artery bypass surgery are all used to restore blood flow as quickly as possible. Paradoxically, however, the very act of restoring such blood flow can also cause a significant amount of heart cells to die.


Episode 2: Great 2 meet u IRL :-) Twitter and digital identity

Is Twitter an ephemeral technology, consisting of mundane chat about people's personal lives? Or can a study of its use help us to understand how we express our identities on and offline? Can Twitter be used for professional or academic activity, and should we try to separate our public and private digital personae? This lecture will address such questions, with the aid of slides of 140 characters and live tweets from the audience at UCL and on the internet.


Episode 3: Should the brain be left to neuroscientists?

Since the 'decade of the brain' in the 1990s an increasing range of previously taboo subjects have been examined by neuroscientists. These include autobiographical memory, aesthetics, love and of course consciousness itself. The rise of imaging techniques which provide engaging pictures of brain activity have added to the appeal. Of course plenty of other discplines within the arts as well as science put the brain at the heart of their project. But how effectively has neuroscience integrated these other approaches into its work? And should the direction of brain research be left to scientists anyway?


Episode 4: Sex, Drugs, the Internet and Juries

Is it true that juries rarely convict defendants in rape cases and are more likely to convict ethnic minority defendants than White defendants? And why can’t jurors resist going home at night and googling the defendant or tweeting about the case – against the express instructions of the judge. This lecture reveals the truth behind a number of widely held beliefs about juries in this country and examines why the internet may now be the biggest threat to our jury system.



Episode 5: Genetic testing in the 21st century: Should we screen the human embryonic genome before implantation?

In preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), embryos are created by IVF and cells removed from these embryos for genetic analysis. Until recently, testing was solely for the disease the couple carried. The use of array-comparative genomic hybridisation and single nucleotide polymorphism arrays has entered the PGD arena. These techniques allow all chromosomes and many genes to be examined. The analysis of the whole genome prior to implantation brings ethical concerns. Will healthy couples opt for PGD to select their ‘best’ offspring?


Episode 6: The origins of the ‘ndrangheta of Calabria: Italy’s most powerful mafia

On 15 August 2007, six young men with origins in the Italian region of Calabria were ambushed and murdered in the German steel town of Duisburg. This was northern Europe’s St Valentine’s Day massacre, the worst ever mafia bloodbath outside Italy and the United States. Suddenly, journalists across the globe were struggling with what the New York Times called an ‘unpronounceable name’: ‘ndrangheta (en-drang-get-ah.) In the 1990s, the ‘ndrangheta placed itself in a leading position in the European wholesale cocaine market by dealing direct with South American producers. It is now thought to be the wealthiest and most powerful of Italy’s major criminal brotherhoods. But how, when, and why did it first emerge?


Episode 7: Will robots take over the world?

2011 is the 90th anniversary of the robot, first imagined as a character in a play, performed in Prague in 1921. It is also the 50th anniversary of the first use of robots in industry with the robot ‘Unimate’ for General Motors in 1961.


Episode 8: Sex education via the media: Promises and pitfalls

This lecture will draw on Dr Boynton's experiences of delivering sex advice through the media - as an agony aunt in magazines and online, and for education radio and TV such as Channel 4's The Sex Education Show. Drawing on research on media advice giving internationally Petra will highlight where media gets it wrong and right, and how we can inform sex education media for young people and adults through evidence based practice and research.


Episode 9: From prehistory to the London blitz: foreshore archaeology and a rising river

When the tide is out, the Thames foreshore is the longest archaeological site in London. The remains cover a wide range of our long history and include prehistoric forests, a Bronze Age bridge, Saxon fish traps, Tudor jetties, later shipyards, watermen's causeways, and the hulks of boats, barges and ships. Our most recent study has even found evidence for bomb-strikes from the London Blitz, exactly 70 years ago. Much of this evidence is suffering from the river's increased erosion or by modern redevelopment. The Thames Discovery Programme team is training up a group of committed Londoners to survey the sites on a regular basis, recording the history on the foreshore before its washed away forever.


Episode 10: Landing on a planet at 600 miles per hour

Unmanned robotic missions are essential for understanding the planets within our solar system. Current missions comprise of gentle landings combined with rovers to explore the local region. Due to the expense of such missions, and their sometimes unsuitability as scientific outposts, UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory is developing Planetary Penetrators, which aim to land on planets at very high speed, penetrating the planet and implanting equipment just below the surface.


Episode 11: Homophobia - a global phenomenon

To mark LGBT History Month, Professor Michael King will look at why homophobia has existed in nearly every society throughout history, and what motivates the hatred of gay people around the world.


Episode 12: Lisbon, 1939-45: the untold story of Portugal and the Jewish refugees

During World War II, Portugal was frantically trying to hold on to its self-proclaimed wartime neutrality, but was increasingly caught in the middle of the economic, and naval wars between the Allies and the Nazis. To complicate matters further, thousands of refugees, many of them Jewish, flooded into Lisbon seeking a passage to the United States or Palestine. This talk will present the little known, and yet vitally important history of the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, during World War II.


Episode 13: Stabilising the global population: Where next for the Millennium Development Goals for health and nutrition?

In many poor countries the Millennium Development Goals for improvements in nutrition and health, especially of mothers and children, will not be met by the target date of 2015. This talk will review progress towards these targets and consider critical obstacles to success. New strategies will be considered to improve nutrition and to accelerate reductions in death and fertility rates so that the global population will be stabilised by mid-century.


Episode 14: Building scientific models with computers

Model building is one of the oldest scientific activities and is essential for allowing us to understand the complex reality of nature. Modern computers have allowed scientists to develop models of unprecedented accuracy and detail, and this lecture will explore and illustrate some aspects of the contemporary field, using examples ranging from cosmology and geosciences to engineering and materials sciences. The power of modern visualisation techniques will also be illustrated.


Episode 15: Who enjoys shopping in IKEA?

Professor Alan Penn will describe the way that architects use space to sell you things. He shows how space creates patterns of movement and this brings you in contact with goods. In IKEA though, the story gets more interesting, here the designers deliberately set out to confuse you and in this way draw you into buying things that were not on your shopping list.