The University of Southampton

Drop in to your local virtual cafe to discover the latest pioneering research

Published: 18 June 2013

Academics from the universities of Southampton and Reading have joined forces to open a virtual cafe to help raise people’s awareness of the exciting research they are carrying out.

Virutal Cafe Scientifique is based on the long-running Cafe Scientifique – an international initiative that aims to give people the chance to explore the latest ideas in science and technology for the prices of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Meetings usually take place in cafes, bars, restaurants and even theatres but always outside a traditional academic context.

But as well as taking their talks out into pubs and cafes in the community, researchers from Electronics and Computer Science, at the University of Southampton, and from the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, at the University of Reading, have also launched a cyber cafe to try and engage the people on the street.

Virtual Cafe Scientifique has been set up by Professor Alun Vaughan, Head of Electronics and Electrical Engineering group at Southampton, and Averil Macdonald, Professor of Science Engagement at Reading.

“We want to let people know about some of the exciting science and engineering research being carried out at the University of Southampton such as focusing on how our research will lead to improvements in energy generation and transmission and benefit the environment, and how research on the World Wide Web will improve the way people with special needs can access the internet,” said Alun.

“One of our talks is called Please Don’t Buy an Electric Car that aims to raise people’s awareness of the effect on the country of going green. If everyone bought an electric car there would need to be billions of pounds of investment and there would be serious consequences for the UK’s electricity supply. Our talk sets out the problems and the consequences if nothing changes, as well as exploring the current scientific research that is seeking the solution to enable us to move to a low carbon energy generation system and wean ourselves off fossil fuels.”

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