LGBT+ History Month with Corinne Humphreys & Michael Gunning

Subject: Equality & Diversity

I enjoyed listening to these two speakers. Each had a different story. Each worth a listen.

Negative: they didn’t record the Q&As.

Positive: it’s therefore very short!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Waves and resonance: from musical instruments to vacuum cleaners, via metamaterials and invisibility cloaks, Professor Jon Chapman

Subject: Mathematics

This lecture has everything: good graphics, visual aids, and a range of topics. It’s on the more technical side, but I was still able to follow it enough. And it’s excellent to know how invisibility cloaks could work.

NB. To find the lecture in the link below use Ctrl+F and search for Chapman.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

How Plants Do it: Light, Oxygen, Action! Professor Vittal Yachandra

Subject: Biology

I loved this lecture. It’s a simple topic, but you realise how little we actually know about photosynthesis and how it’s crucial in understanding how we can help the planet. It also gives a good picture of the life of a scientist and how much progress in technology has helped scientific research. And he’s got a great sense of humour.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Things are going downhill fast: Understanding massive landslides by Professor Dave Petley

Subject: Geography

This lecture really highlights the devastation that landslides cause, and give a real depth of knowledge of different types of landslide. One downside: the videos don’t work. BUT you can look them up on YouTube. Sadly this means that it takes more effort than it should. But the landslides are horrifically fascinating.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The Creativity Code: How AI is learning to write, paint and think, Professor Marcus du Sautoy

Subject: Artifical Intelligence

This lecture really makes you think about what we deem as “art”. There’s also some good testing/surveying of the audience, so you can join in too. You can expect Marcus du Sautoy to give a good lecture and he does.

NB. to find the lecture use Ctrl +F on the linked page.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Should the UK grow more food? Professor Tim Lang

Subject: Sustainability

This is a life changing lecture. Well, it got me back buying a veg box again. But it does make you think about what we eat, even if it sometimes leaves me more confused about what I should purchase. I love his holistic approach to sourcing food. And he is clearly so passionate about this subject.

This is a pre-COVID lecture, so I would love to hear his thoughts now. This is probably possible, but I haven’t followed this chain of thought further.

NB in the link below it’s the 2019 lecture.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Everything from nothing: how our universe was made by Professor Carlos Frenk

Subject: Cosmology

We really liked this lecture. Prof Frenk adds an excellent storytelling patter to a complex subject. And he’s quite humorous. The topic of “the Universe” is wonderful. The graphics are fantastic. We learnt a lot.

Plus we loved the title. Spoiler alert: Prof Frenk did not make the universe.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

How to choose a lecture

These are the things we have learnt to do whilst choosing a lecture:

  • Step 1: get your search engine going! I’ve found the easiest way to find them is to search for an institution and go through their public lectures. Watch out! A lot of public lectures on websites are details of lectures which are in person only. Feel free to go to these if you can, but I’m usually looking for ones that have been recorded.
  • Pick random: go for a topic that you really know nothing about. They have been some of our most enjoyable.
  • Book promotion: we’ve learnt to avoid lectures that promote a book. We’ve watched lectures based around a book and they tend to not say very much except “read my book”. We have, however, had some good book recommendations through these lectures. But it’s not why we watch a lecture.
  • Era: personally I like to see a lecture theatre full of people, rather than a zoom lecture made in lockdown. I’m the same with my general TV viewing. Not that zoom lectures are bad – they just make me feel sad.