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Café Scientifique - join the club

PUBLISHED: 08:57 30 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:14 20 February 2013

Café Scientifique - join the club

Café Scientifique - join the club

Every month, we catch up with a different club or society in the county to find out a bit about what they get up to, and how people go about joining them. This time, we head to Guildford to meet a group of people obsessed by science...

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine November 2010


Every month, we catch up with a different club or society in the county to find out a bit about what they get up to, and how people go about joining them. This time, we head to Guildford to meet a group of people obsessed by science...


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Name of club: Caf Scientifique
Location: Guildford
In a nutshell: The club welcomes a different guest speaker each month who introduces a science-related topic then opens it to the floor for debate.
Name of person interviewed: Kath Eleveld
Role in group: Organiser
Member of the club since: June 2010
Joined because More years ago than I like to think about, I took a degree in Materials Science not that I use it much as a pub landlady! Science works away in the background of our lives without being given much thought. I wanted to find a group of similarly interested people with which to explore new subjects and to have a chance to reflect on the world around us.




When was the club set up?
The Guildford branch was set up in June 2010, so we are quite a new organisation, although the Caf Scientifique groups operate worldwide. Event attendance has already been amazing, and we look forward to welcoming many more new faces.


How often do you meet?
Once a month at The Keystone in Guildford, usually on the third Monday of the month, although we sometimes move the date to get the speaker that we want they are volunteers so we like to be flexible for them. Dates are always posted on the web.


Whats the best thing about being a member of the club?
Its a chance to take time out from everyday life to share thoughts
and ideas about current day issues with other people. Its great to be able to put the day job to one side but still use the brain to look at something new as well.


How many members do you have altogether?
An event will typically be attended by around 50 people more if the speaker is particularly well-known, such as David Nutt, ex government drugs advisor, who spoke in October.


Are you linked with other clubs as well?
There is an umbrella group of Caf Scientifique that operates across the UK and more widely afield, across the world. Our chairperson, Dr Paul Stevenson, is based in the physics department at Surrey University and Lucy Goodchild, of Mensa South East, was integral in setting up the group, although she has recently moved to Amsterdam.


Do you find being surrounded by like-minded individuals inspiring?
Yes, because the varying viewpoints from both scientists and non-scientists alike make for a lively debate. Although there may be strong opinions in the room, its not an elitist group and Paul does a great job of making sure everyone gets the chance to speak as well.


Whats the most interesting story from the groups history?
We have only held four meetings so far. However, a discussion on consciousness included a debate on whether your cat knows the sun is going to rise tomorrow and whether that constitutes consciousness. That was pretty thought-provoking!


and the funniest?
Septembers talk was on the topic of synesthesia. Jamie got us to imagine what it would be like to see music played out in colour in front of our eyes and inevitably the discussion moved on to a comparison with the effects of hallucinogenic drugs!


When is your next event that is open to the public/potential new members?
On Monday December 13, we have Dr Robert Smith whose talk is entitled End in Fire the Ultimate Fate of the Earth. Basically, in 7,590 million years, the sun will have evolved to become a red giant star, whose radius will be comparable to the current radius of the earths orbit around the sun: Robert will discuss what that will do to our earth. The earth will actually be too hot for habitation much sooner than that so we will also look at the problems that humanity needs to overcome to survive for even 1,000 centuries.


Describe your club in five words...
Drawing science back into conversation.


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