Talks 2023

What does the future hold for Orkney? We’ve had twenty amazing years of wave and tide developments – what may the next twenty hold, in energy and transport. And can we design an affordable house?

We’ll hear of microalgae turning waste into food or pharmaceuticals. The science of photonics, with tools of light. Progress on fusion energy, creating the power of the Sun. The man who linked solar storms to the Northern Lights; and an Arctic quest for them.

We’ll go back to 1953 and the hurricane-force winds that destroyed Orkney’s pioneering wind turbine at Costa Head – and the ship that ran before them in an epic journey to Aberdeen. We’ll look back at Stromness’s days of sail; and hear of a journey through the Northwest Passage today.

An ancient Greek computer with mechanical gears. Midwinter sunlight at Maeshowe. Traditional dances gathered by a mathematician; and artists inspired by mathematics. Traditional cereals and their nutritional benefit today. Tracking Ice Age rock movements; and unearthing a mammoth graveyard. Tracing Orkney family origins, the Fletts in particular. A lost flock, a hydrogen ship … and much much more!

MOVING INTO MORE BLUE WATER

September 7, 2023 → 10:00 am11:00 am

Twenty years ago the world’s first marine energy test centre was established in Orkney, to evaluate new wave and tidal power devices in harsh sea conditions. What will the next twenty years bring – tidal energy farms, bridges or causeways with tidal turbines, tanker shipments of hydrogen? EMEC’s managing director Neil Kermode and Gareth Davies of Aquatera look ahead into clear blue water.

POWER FROM THE SEA WIND

September 7, 2023 → 11:30 am12:30 pm

With plans taking shape for a floating wind farm to the east, Johan Daelman, Lead Floating Foundations Engineer from Thistle Wind Partners, describes the engineering challenges of developing an 18MW-25MW floating turbine, the advancing technology of offshore wind, and its potential applications for the future.

A NEW DAY FOR THE FERRYMAN?

September 7, 2023 → 2:00 pm3:00 pm

Orkney’s ferries are ageing and fuel-prodigal – but what can replace them? Could it be new energy-efficient ships, or bridges or tunnels or causeways – or a mix of all the various options? Roy Pedersen, former head of transport for HIE, joins Prof. Alf Baird to set out the options.

IMAGINEERING OPPORTUNITIES

September 7, 2023 → 3:30 pm4:30 pm

Engineer Bill Graham shows how bringing together people from varied backgrounds into creative dialogue can open a rich range of ideas for industries and communities – from a different type of ladder to an alternative container ship format, from a safety system for tower blocks to a modular design for an affordable house.

REBUILDING THE SOIL: AN ENGINEER’S PERSPECTIVE

September 7, 2023 → 5:15 pm6:15 pm

The immense amount of carbon dioxide that green plants absorb is far outweighed by the amount of carbon lost from soil, due to the continuing depletion of organic matter. But, says Prof. Karen Johnson of Durham University, we can rebuild our soils and the local economy at the same time.

WHY IS MAESHOWE SQUINT?

September 7, 2023 → 6:00 pm7:00 pm

Dave Craig describes the mysterious and spectacular solar alignment of Maeshowe. Using the latest Stellarium software, he reappraises the 3000 BC alignment; with unexpected results. Numbers are limited to 24, and booking is essential. Admission free, with a collection for Orkney Archaeology Society.

100 MILLION DEGREES AND RISING

September 8, 2023 → 10:00 am11:00 am

It's the ultimate energy challenge – to replicate the nuclear fusion process that powers the Sun. With big breakthroughs in 2022 and private companies making rapid progress, what does this mean for fusion’s prospects - and clean energy for a brighter future? Plasma physicist Dr Melanie Windridge describes the latest progress.

AN ANCIENT GREEK COMPUTER

September 8, 2023 → 2:00 pm3:00 pm

It used bronze gears to predict the position of sun, moon and planets – and eclipses as well. It was recovered from an ancient shipwreck, and over decades researchers have applied techniques to reveal its original form. Dr Vassilios Spathopoulos tells the story of the 2,000-year-old Antikythera mechanism and shows a working model of a machine that was in action at the time of Caesar and Cleopatra.

FOOD FROM THE SEA: FISH TAILS AND TRIMMINGS AND SEAWEED

September 8, 2023 → 3:30 pm4:30 pm

In the making of fish fillets, various parts are discarded. And thereby, says Prof. Giovanna Bermano of Robert Gordon University, we are losing out on the potential for nutrition and for a range of other products that can be developed for industry; and the same can be said for seaweed. She includes some samples for you to taste.

FASHIONABLY DIGITAL – COMPUTERS AND CLOTHES

September 8, 2023 → 5:15 pm6:15 pm

Smart clothes and new uses for traditional textiles, digital skins and virtual clothes to wear online …. Dr Karen Cross, Josie Steed, and Dr Yang Jiang from Robert Gordon University describe the new horizons afforded by the application of digital technologies to clothing, fashion and fabrics, featuring designs by Kirsteen Stewart and music by Brian Cromarty.

LIVING ON THE CROSSROADS

September 8, 2023 → 7:30 pm8:30 pm

Slovenia lies on the crossing point of four great routes across Europe, including the ancient Amber Route from the Baltic to Italy and Greece. What has that crossroads position meant for trade and culture over the centuries? Archaeologist Dr Tina Milavec of the University of Ljubljana gives a picture of a central European land of mountains and forests between the Alps and the Mediterranean.

WILD ISLES

September 9, 2023 → 10:00 am11:00 am

Richard Shucksmith in Shetland has spent the last three years working on the BBC’s Wild Isles series, broadcast this spring. He shares images and stories, and guidance as well, and speaks about the physical and technical challenges involved, from his lifelong love of photography.

MADE MANIFEST IN FORM AND NUMBER

September 9, 2023 → 10:30 am12:30 pm

Explore mathematical influences on art in the permanent exhibition at the Pier and a visiting exhibition from Dundee. Curator Andrew Parkinson and Kari Adams join Dundee curator Matthew Jarron and mathematician Dr Isobel Falconer from St Andrews University. There’s talks, a tour, and a tea break. Booking essential.

THE SCIENCE OF THE SUN

September 9, 2023 → 11:30 am12:30 pm

The Sun’s heat and light is vital for life on earth – but it also generates ‘space weather’ that can damage satellites and endanger astronauts. Dr Karen Meyer of Dundee University describes the huge temperatures of the Sun’s atmosphere and the massive eruptions of energy that sometimes burst from it; and how mathematics can shed light on some of its mysteries.

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