Astronomy public lecture @ UEA

First posted on April 26, 2018
Did you know you can just go places???

It’s a public lecture so the public can just show up and get a free education.

Professor Ben Stappers was visiting from the University of Manchester and he is involved with developing the Square Kilometre Array. Which is big.

But seriously this is a guy who knows the field and has experience in communicating what he knows.

Was it understandable?

It was mostly understandable for a trio of laypeople with varying interest in the sciences. I had no idea what any of the axis labels meant but could intuit the pictures.


I have vague memories of a talk on medical applications of molecular chemistry that I couldn’t get much from with my D grade Chemistry AS. Political lectures were more accessible to me at that time. This was targeted at the high school students behind me and the astronomy students at the front.


Yes. No surprise. I listen to pop-sci programs on the radio and watch the odd documentary. This is a burgeoning field that could answer big questions about the makeup of our universe.

That and most scientists are nerds and nerds love stupid acronyms. MeerKAT for example. Meer is Afrikaans for more then KAT refers to the KAT-7 (Karoo Array Telescope – seven). It’s meerKAT because there are meer telescopes. So we got some laughs.

What did you learn?

I now realise I am interviewing myself

I didn’t know what a fast radio burst was. In a way I still don’t. Stappers said that last year they had more theories about the causes of FRBs than recorded bursts. Though they do seem to be finding more rapidly. He had received a report of a potential new FRB this week.

The way the burst gets distorted can hint at how much stuff is between earth and the source of the burst. So that’s what it’s good for.


Is it recorded anywhere?

Someone was filming it but I can’t find anything. There’s an interview Stappers did on BBC Radio Norfolk that will be up for a few weeks.

Should you go to one?

Yeah? It’s an hour of your time and none of your money. Look up what’s going on and if there is something that fits your interests then give it a go. The some departments seem to list stuff better than others. Philosophy often have events. Maybe try Languages or Biology?