Leeds Café Scientifique No.3

Home of Leeds' Third Cafe ScientifiqueSunday 15th May saw the launch of Leeds’ third Café Scientifique based at Leeds City Museum, Millennium Square. Paul Thomas interviewed its organiser and museum curator Clare Brown.

1. Why have you set up a third Cafe Scientifique in Leeds?

I’ve always been interesting in improving access to science. We’ve got a great venue and a willing audience at Leeds City Museum – not to mention a brilliant café – and so running a Café Scientifique there seemed a logical step. I’ve started organising speakers but I’m relying on it being quite organic, we’ll see how it develops.

2. What are your aims? And do they differ anyway from the existing Cafe Scientifiques?

I wanted to provide yet another forum by which people can feel comfortable understanding and talking about science. As a science curator, I’d certainly say that one of my aims would be to get people talking about science in a museum setting. We’re blessed with a huge collection and so, hopefully, some Cafés will be augmented with parts of the collection.

3. Who are you hoping to attract?

We’ve put ‘ages 8 to 108’ on our flyers and that, coupled with a lunch timeslot in a café, means that it would be great to attract a wide range of ages. Families as well as interested individuals are all welcome.

4. Do you think there’s a lot of interest in science topics at the moment, and why?

I don’t think there’s any more than in the past few decades, science is always in the news.

5. Why do you think Leeds is so dynamic for scientific and other public debate?

Leeds is a large city catering for all walks of life. Within such a big population you are always going to get plenty of people willing to get involved in discussing science. We’re also blessed in Leeds with plenty of enthusiastic individuals who are willing to arrange events and galvanise people into action.

6. Lastly, how did the first Café Scientifique go – “Massive Molecules and Monkey-nuts: How a Leeds Scientist started the race for DNA”?

The first café went very well – lots of lively discussion and I’ve had some very positive remarks from attendees.

The Cafes take place Sunday mornings in Leeds City Museum cafe, and start at 11:30am, and are free.

The next Cafe is on 10 July, “Archaeology and the science of digging things up”, with Sonia O’Connor of Bradford University and Terry O’Connor of York University.

This is followed by “How I wonder what you are: The birth, life and death of stars”, with Paul Ruffle from Jodrell Bank on 14 August.

For further details contact Clare Brown, Curator, Natural Science, Leeds Museum Discovery Centre, on Clare.Brown@leeds.gov.uk, or tel: 0113 2141563.

Paul Thomas is co-founder and organiser of Leeds Salon, and author of ‘Is Leeds a City of Debate’.