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Café Scientifique

Thursday 25th May, 7:30pm

Café Scientifique is a place where anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology; a forum for debating science issues, not a shop window for science. We are committed to promoting public engagement with science and to making science accountable. Want to join the discussion? We have a mailing list! Café Scientifique Manchester is organised by Deborah Talmi and Bo Yao. The group is part of a global network which you can find out more about here.

This Month:

Cyril Bracegirdle coined the term ‘The Dark River’ in his 1973 book on the River Irwell. Back in 1970s the Irwell was indeed polluted – a legacy of the industrial revolution (‘where there’s muck there’s brass’) and the parallel rise in the population living around the river. The physical appearance of the Irwell in Salford and Manchester had also changed beyond all recognition as it was deepened and canalised to reduce flooding and allow the passage of larger boats. This ‘re-engineering’ of the lower Irwell culminated in the construction of Manchester docks in the late Nineteenth Century. We will examine how the river and the surrounding area have changed over the years, including the extent to which pollution now been reduced and what more needs to be done. In the early 1800s river was full of trout and salmon swam up the river to breed – could this happen again? Water matters – we will also look at how the improvements in water quality in the old Manchester Docks allowed their transformation into the vibrant and commercially successful Salford Quays.

The Speaker:

Dr Keith White is interested in understanding and managing the water quality and ecology of urban watercourses, including preventing the formation of potentially harmful ‘blooms’ of blue-green algae. Work with an industrial partner is examining the relationship between past and present water quality and the changes in the ecology of Salford Quays – a restored and redeveloped dock system near Media City, Greater Manchester. The work includes the development of a computer-based model to assist in the ecological management of the Quays. Other studies with a colleague in Geography are looking at how we can improve water quality of urban rivers and canals to assist in the economic regeneration of inner cities. He is also interested in the toxicity of metal pollutants to aquatic animals and plants and how such these toxins are accumulated and transferred through the food chain. This includes examining the impact of nanoparticles, in particular nanosilver. Nanosiliver is used as an antibacterial agent in consumer products such as socks and therefore enters waterways via the sewerage system. They have recently shown that nanosilver is accumulated by gazing and filter feeding animals and is passed along the food chain from algae to zooplankton such as the water flea.

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