Cafe Scientific, Southampton, UK, past talks

Latest update of this file 24 December , 2014

Some details on past SWA science cafe talks in 2010 , including transcripts of talks and Q&A
Some details on SWA science cafe talks of later 2011
Some details on SWA science cafe talks of early 2011
Some details on SWA science cafe talks of early 2012
Some details on SWA science cafe talks of mid 2012
Some details on SWA science cafe talks of end 2012, including transcripts of talks and Q&A
Some details on SWA science cafe talks of early 2013, including transcripts of talks and Q&A
Some details on SWA science cafe talks of mid 2013, including transcripts of talks and Q&A
Some details on SWA science cafe talks of late 2013, including transcripts of talks and Q&A
Some details on SWA science cafe talks of early 2014, including transcripts of talks and Q&A
Some details on SWA science cafe talks of mid 2014, including transcripts of talks and Q&A
Some details on SWA science cafe talks of end 2014, including transcripts of talks and Q&A
To return to the main "4mg" Soton Sci Cafe file
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Some summaries etc of past talks held at the venue, The Southwestern Arms (upstairs room) , 36 Adelaide Rd, St Denys, SO17 2HW
Some hosts are not alowing remote linking now , so to view a "forbidden" picture you have to right click on the mouse and select "view". Not verbatim, and there will be homonyms, transcription, transliteration, typing and spelling errors and misattributions in the following write-ups. Q&A , grouped under one "Q" or ? terminator tend to be dialogue with / multiple questions from one enquirer. ? for unheard / masked words , ??? for phrases.

13 Oct 2014 ,Dr Maarten Furlong, NOC, Southampton Autonomous Underwater Vehicles: the Autosub Programme diving deeper and swimming further Summary: The Autosub Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) development programme has been ongoing at the National Oceanography Centres and its pre-cursor institutions since the late 80s. The first Autosub vehicle was trialed in Empress Dock in Southampton in 1996, and since this early development Autosub AUVs have been regularly used for oceanographic scientific research. During this talk I will describe the early goals of the programme, how the goals have been realised, and some of the engineering challenges that needed to be overcome to allow AUVs to dive deeper and travel further. I will also look at some of the discoveries that the technology has enabled and some of the problems we have had along the way. To conclude the talk I will present a vision of where we are going with AUV developments and how they fit into the broader context of other Marine Autonomous Systems developments being undertaken at the oceanography centre. 30 people, 1.5 hours Our diving deeper in the title is going 6,000 metres down. Autosub Long Range designed to go 6,000 km We're at Dock Gate 4, the National Oceanography Centre. Home for about 500 staff including sea going technicians, and 700 students. 50 million pound purpose built facility opened 1994, annual turnover of about 40 million quid. It is the main centre for deep ocean research within the UK. The 2 sea going vessels we run can go anywhere in the world except into ice as they're not ice breakers. We've been developing AUVs there since the early 1990s. The AUVs sit in a bigger group called MARS which stands for Marine Autonomous Robotic Systems group. MARS has a AUV team, a ROV team , ROVs connected to a ship via a long cable. They generate all the pretty videos. We also have a group that works on autonomous surface vehicles and also subsea gliders. Gliders make themselves heavy and as they sink through the water column , using small wings to drive forward, down to a certain depth where they will pump out some oil , inside a bladder, changing the density of the vehicle . It will become bouyant and float up through the water column, using the wings again to drive forward. They have a range of about 4,500 Km and are deployed for a long time. My previous role was hydrodynamicist and mechanical engineer working on AUVs. With me in that team were people with skills in electronics, software, sealing mechanical engineer and a machinist. A lot of skills to build and operate one of these vehicles. Also deck-hands required. In 1996 at the NOC image of first tryout in the water in 1996 in the dock outside the NOC being tested. In 2000 there wa a big upgrade and Autosub1 became Autosub2. This changed the depth rating from about 500m to 1600m so a mile down. The mean depth of the worlds oceans is about 4500 metres, so 1600m doesn't get you much beyond the continental shelf. In 2005 we had an incident. Autosub2 was doing a lot of work under ice. It went to the Thimble Glacier in Antartica . The first time under the ice it worked , second time under something went wrong and it is still there. So 17km in under 200m of ice , nestled up against the underside of the ice. We looke dto getting insurance and the insurance quote for deploying the next vehicle under ice was 95% of the cost of building anothe r vehicle, so we self-insured basically buy all the spares we needed and if we lost one we'd build another. So Autosub3 was a different vehicle to the previous 2 but much like autosub2. In 2007 we launched autosub6000, and in about 2011, autosub-long-range. The 6000 is very highpower meaning it can run high power sensors of the order a few hundred watts, but because of those sensors , the range is relatively short. So deployment for about 36 hours, it might do a few hundred Km. Longrange is designed to be deployed for very long times , so low power sensors . A AUV is a yellow torpedo set up yo be a sensor taxi. At the rear a propellor and some control planes. A precision navigation system on board for subsurface navigation. A whole load of rechargeable batteries . A number of safety systems for if it goes wrong, you can recover the vehicle. And pack it with sensors. A typical mission. Launch and then a pre-defined path , spiral down , do a survey, come to an end point and spiral back up and we collect it. The AUV is relatively stupid, little situational awareness. They don't process any of the sensor data on board, primarily because it is complicated to do. So say a bathymetric survey, the shape of the sea bed, using multibeam sensors . Or perhaps a side scan sensor , generates grey-scale images. You cant get shape information from it , but you can get heights from the shadows. Or photographic surveys. In this survey the sub was close to the bottom of the continental shelf, the sub itself is 6m long . If you encounter a big rock , you destroy the front of your sub. We were pretty confident the bottom was flat and hence stunning images of the marine life. Other sensors could be magnetometer or an E-H sensor. The AUV understands nothing about the pictures or the multi-beam etc. How does a AUV navigate. On the surface you have GPS, no problem. But under water GPS does not work. So dead-reckon . Imagine you are in a big field with a bucket on your head and you have a compass. You count how many paces you make in a certain direction and you integrate the info. The further you go , the more the eroor drifts. So you need a very accurate heading sensor and an accurate speed sensor . The ICSI ? fins measure the rotation rate of the Earth and it measures acceleration due to gravity and because you know which way you're spinning , which way down is , you know incredibly accurately which way north is. When I first came across this it blew me away, the concept that a little blue box can measure the rotation of the Earth. So you don't get affected by magnetic anomalies. Thena doppler velocity log , 4 sonar beams and measure the speed over the ground , the speed sensor. The challenge is the relatively limited range of the dopller velocity unit. You know where you are on the surface, you descent 6000m of water but at the bottom you need to initialise yourself for the mission. You know where you are from the start position but don't know where you are relative to the surface start position, the unknown drift beteen the surface and 6km down. Solved using range-only positiuoning , take a whole load of readings via anacoustic system so vyou know the distance from the AUV to the accompanying ship and because you end up with a huge nimber of these readings you have an over-determined set of equations, throw some sums at it and it tells you what the error is, then feed it to the sub. Lithium polymer rechargeable batteries , the XE fins, the DVL gives an error of about 1m per 1000m travelled which is amazingly good. We also have an ATP ? on board , dual frequency side-scan, sub-floor profiler , multibeam ?, hi and lo res cameras, magnetometers, CTD conductivity temp and depth allows you to see the structure of the water column. Also collision avoidance sonar, acoustic telemetry . The vehicle 5.5m long, 0.9m diameter, 1.8 tons and 6,000m rated. As time goes on we keep adding more stuff in it. The scientests want more data and higher resolution and "can you fit one more sensor?" The tail and nose sections are free-flooding , empty spaces but with instrumentation i nthere. The reason we could go from 1600m to 6000m is due to pressure-balanced lithium batteries. You take your mobile phone battery , you shove it in a tub of oil with some elctronics and you can take it to the bottom of the ocean. It will withstand the 620 bars of pressure down there. That means you don't need to create internal pressure vessels for the batteries. If you need to create internal vessels, to cater for the pressure they have to be heavy. As the vehicle needs to float , you require more flotation with it, which means everything gets bigger with the result you end up with small battery capacity in consequence. Its first science expedion in 2008. The plan was to go out on the James Cook ship , looking for geohazards. Microbathymetry surveys . One of the challenges of going deep is you have acoustic surveys from ships , but at that distance the resolution is course"pixelated" . To get high resolution acoustic surveys you need very high frequency systems which means you need to be close to the seabed. So here about 5000m and if you use the ship based acoustic images its incredibly course. The other thing was deploying a piston-corer, a long strawlike cylinder you press into the sediment and pull out a core. You can then see the structure laid down in hte ocean over the millenia. So if there is a big event like a landslide you can see it in hte layers. We started in Tenerife and these were the results. The twelve survey run, the very expensive survey instrument we bought, packed up half way through. The computer on it fell over, needed rebooting and so we lost half of the data. We set a floor to the operation, and if the sub went below that limit , something bad has happened, we don't necessarily know what that bad thing is. So cut power, drop the big weight from the front and rise to the surface. Something went wrong, it dived towards the sea-bed, went past the floor limit , triggered the abort and rise system and surfaced. The culprit was with the control at the rear that controls the dive planes, inside was a potentiometer that measures the angle of the control p[lane. Inside that the resistive track of the potentiometer had ripped up , and the wiper got stuck at that point. The control plane became fixed , to dive towards the seabed. The vehicle is otherwise dumb and would have ploughed into the seabed with it the floor limitor. We were lucky. We were also going to look at hydrothermal vents, the Nicane ? Rise. Its a very rocky and mountainous region, so we needed an object avoidence system. We wanted to operate closer to complicated terrain. Previously we could set a floor and say don't go through that floor. If you collide with the seabed you destroy the front of your sub and potentially youi can loose it. The benefit is that you can doi photographic surveys , and multibeam surveys in com[plicated terrains. There is a huge amount of equipment you can buy, the oil industry produces a load of stuff but very little of it is rated for 6000m. We also needed a simple interface to integrate it into the existing structure. Needed to be small, low powered, and we wanted to see acoustically a very long way, 150m. The avoidance system is , if you see something ahead ,pull up over it. If you can't pull up over it , go back along your track but go to a higher altitude , advance again and see if you can pull up over it. We looked at different options, single beam echo sounders, doppler velocity logs, acoustic doppler current profilers with 4 beams looking forwards or an expensive multibeam system but none were suitably rated, or a mechanically scanned sonar which is what we ended up with. This has a wide but thin beam , used usualy in ROVs to produce sonmething like a radar-plot. Rotate it through 90 degrees so scans forward , in a vertical plane to detect obstavles . The speed of sound in water is quite slow 1.5km/sec so to ping a long way , get a return, process it takes a long time. About 1 second per ping, so you cannot build up a full sweep of what is happening in front of you. So we decided to just track the horizon. If I cannot see the horizon, step the beam down, and continue until you see the horizon and so dither around the horizon. This allows you to do the obstacle avoidance but also gives you better terrain following as well. We took the output from this and fed it into the existing depth control system. Hydrothermal vents, 2010. To the Caribean. We also intended testing new camera and magnetometer systems. Near the Cayman Islands. Some surveyed by the AUV and some surveyed by the ship. We had a fair idea where this hydrothermal vent was, went down and found it. We used an E-H sensor , measures reduction potential . As we have a co-located magnetometer sensor the scientists were interested in what they thought was a burn area, fluid coming out of the vent are very hot, increase the local temperature, brings it above the Curie Temperature which then means you get a reduction in the magnetic field. Never been sen before. They wanted to go and see it so they deployed another vehicle called Hi-Vis? which is a camera-grab. A year later they went back with ISIS which is a big ROV and filmed at the vent site. Video of the marine life You never get images like that with hte AUV. These vents are hard to find, something the size of a house in about 5000m of water in total blackness. You would not be able to find one directly with a ROV on its own. Logging the temperatures and some of the chemical signatures coming out of the vent. These vents are interesting scientifically but there is a lot of commercial interest as well , because they are amazingly rich in minerals , metals like copper. People are thinking of mining at these depths, perhaps not at such live sites . Periodically they decide to explode and the vent stops venting and marine life cannot then be sustained there. Go down and hoover up the minerals down there. A later time we found another hydrothermal vent, completely unexpected. The first one we knew was down there because we had signals on the ship. How did the collision avoidance system ,that I worked on, work. Data from the 6000 multibeam system. "lawnmower " survey 50m spacing flying at 60m altitude. In the data a 75m high sheer cliff , we had no knowledge of this until it came back. It was the perfect test of the obstacle avoidence system by flying straight at this cliff. I was very pleased, we didn't collide with anything, all was good. I will now talk about Autosub LongRange. Quite a bit smaller, weighs 600Kg instead of 1.8 tons, 6000m rated, 6000Km range and 6 months endurance. The hotel power, the amount of energy for sensors is substantially reduced. Its designed more for exploring the water column and understanding whats happening in the water mass, not what is on the seabed. In theory you could cross the top of the world, from Svalbard to Canada . You can't navigate very well when you get to the north pole , but otherwise we could lok at the underside of the ice. You can look across choke points across the ocean , where there are big tidal flows and where mixing hap[pens. You can use it as a self-deploying mooring. eg take to ship to PAP , porcupine abyssal plane , a load of instrumentation on a long string of wire with flotation and weights and leave it there for 2 years, come back, gather the data . Sometimes you go back and its all gone because its been long-line fished. It could do the operation itself, no need for a big expensive ship, it goes out monitors an area and then comes back. You could say deploy the vehicle off the north of Scotland , to monitor marine protected habitats . In 2011 we went out to the Darwin Mound , 1000m deeep , coral mounds. DEFRA is under obligation to every 5 yearsor so go out and monitor what has happened there, see if fisherman have trawled and destroyed it. To do that with a big ship and the likes of the 6000 its extremely expensive to do. So take it to Scotland , no sensors on travel to the area of interest, turn on the high power sensors , generate data, and return. So DEFRAC and similar are really interested in this sort of tech. A number of challenges. Reliability is bit of a problem for 6 months endurance. Its necessary to considdr all the potential risks and try and design them out. eg the propulsion system at the rear. We won't use any shaft seals , not going to compensate it so the motor and all the internal in a housing and take the drive out through a mechanical coupling to the outside to minimise system failure. The actuators work similarly , but don't have direct feedback. You don't need to measure the angle of the plane, you just need to send it offset commands. You need good quality control or its easy to screw things up. Everything should be made by dedicated professionals. At the NOC we are not in a position always to do things in the best manner, doing things in a rush, in fairly awkward conditions on the back of a ship. You end up cobbling stuff up so it works but does not necessarily have the durability you need. Its really important to test everything. We tend to use mobile phone prcessors and low power electronics to conserve the limited hotel power. We've designed it to be directionally stable, so you don't need to continually move the control planes, again saving energy. Discovery 360 cruise. It didn't go that well. If it was easy , loads of people would be doing it. The main control system for the motor, flapping the control planes, it was connected using a certain intercomunication protocol which was I2C and it turned out there was a fundamental flaw in the integration of this on-board processor. You buy the system and a board support package which is all the software to make it run , you think great. Integrate everything but we discovered 1 month before the cruise that if you had a problem with the I2C bus you couldn't resetit without turning the whole vehicle off and turning it back on again. If we did that in deployment, it thinks its had a major power failure, I'll drop the abort weight and I'll come to the surface. The I2c bus kept falling over , the crew named it Bob because the vehicle would go in , start, then fall over , and we'd have to recover it so spending its time just bobbing up and down in the water. We went to Grande Canaria , we launched it from the shore from a little boat trailler, and towed out with a small RIB. One man operation with 2 more assisting at launch and recovery. Its not expensive and easy to do from a variety of locations. We went to the FASNET campaign, Fluxes Across Sloping Topography of the NE Atlantic. Wanting to know how the water mixes at the edge of the continental shelf and the deep water. Plan was 5 missions something like 3000 Km one month 1500m water depth. First was supposed to be 2013 but we had problems. Science package on board, A Temninus? probe upfront that measures micro-structure turbulence. Looks like a Nahwals tusk with fine probes on it . Measures the turbulence and allows you to assess the mixing. We also had up and down looking ADCPs , quite a big instrumentation payload on the vehicle, hence the limiting of the range. So March 2014 all excited, put in the water , big press release . Goes out , lasted about 4 days and there was a problem. We needed to reboot it on the surface , we sent the command to reboot the computer then we heard nothing . Another problem , not sure what , waited . Vehicle had stopped communicating and presumed lost. Then about 3.5 months later I'd just come in at home , turned on the pc and an email flashing up saying "Hello, I'm on the surface can you come and get me." Is there anyone I can go to , to get, to go to hte middle of the ocean to recover it. It turned out there was a research ship the Celtic Explorer, Irish research ship which happened to be 30 miles away. I spent an hour trying to get a phone number to contact these people and they went to collect my sub. Within a few hours it was on board and I was over the moon. So it was not lost for good. What went wrong. We screwed up and there was a ballasting error. The difficulty with a very long range vehicle is the tolerance you have to ballast to is too fine. If its too bouyant you waste huge amounts of energy overcoming the bouyancy. We think there was some trapped air in the vehicle . So you ballast initially and it floats , take it out and then for whatever reason the air dissolves . When it comes to the surface again it will sink but only just sink. So when we rebooted it , shutting all the power down, and it slowly started to sink. We also have an abort weight that we would normally drop but because we screwed up the balasting there was alwso an error in the abort weight software which meant it didn't properly drop the abort weight. There is a burn wire that corrodes through , requiring current to pass for 2 or 3 minutes . We are supposed to put it on for 10 minutes but we put it on for a minute so the weight did not drop. We think what happened then was it sank and sat on the bottom for 3 months. The flash-memory cards filled up which triggered another abort which meant it properly burnt through the release wire, dropped the weight, came to the surface and started talking to us on the emergency system. There was some corrossion from 3months on the surface. To loose a vehicle and be fairly clear you've lost it ,go through the whole process to try and work out why you lost it , then get it back and understand what actually went wrong is amazingly valuable. You discover so many problems. If it all worked perfectly , we wouldn't have picked up on. Useful but stressful. We will be redeploying it in the summer of 2015 after learning a lot of lessons. A vision of where we we're going in the future. Multi-vehiclke co-ordinated operations. A load of vehicles, operators sat back at base with satellite comms, a surface vehicle and a sub-serface vehicle budded up. So an acoustic modem for the surface vehicle to talk to the subsurface one. The acoustic link would also give you better navigation. With that .1% distance error of dead reckoning. Imagine doing 6000km and .1% of that is 6km. That requires high power and good sensors. The guys flying these things don't want to be waiting for the vehicle to come up and schedule their life around the vehicle they want it the other way about. They want to go into work on monday morning, log into the vehicle , and see what is happening. They don't want to be woken up at 3am and sit there with the vehicle tel;ling them whats happening. If we wanted to go hunting for hydrothermal vents with LongRange and a surface vehicle as well. There is supposed to be vents all over the mid Atlantic Ridge. So say the Azores, 2500m deep , 6000km track length , 250m line spacing we would cover 1500 sq km and look for hydrothermal vents . Doing all that without the need for a big ship. If you think about MH370 where they're saying we'll be looking in 60,000 sq km and we want to find something , the time taken with just an AUV would be astronomical. There are still challenges, co-ordinating the vehicles by remote control . The capability of going out without the need of a big ship would revolutionise oceanography. Because suddenly everything gets a lot less expensive. You can do things a lot more reactively and do really big area surveys that you can't do at the moment. A picture of the whole fleet on the quayside. Q&A Do star fish have 7 legs? that one in hte video had 5. To be honest I know nothing about marine biology. If we had any biologists here there would be raving about it. They're all on board and have seen all these images. About 37,000 photos and these were just the edited highlights. Most of them are just images of mud. The creature in the top left of this image is a nephrox. We saw them going on top of a sea-urchin and munch it. You could often also see the trace of where the star-fish hd been and the dead sea-urchin and no star-fish. Has there been research on very low frequency communication with autosubs, like its used with military subs? There is a company called Wireless Fibre Sytem that have worked on low frequency radio comunication. It hasn't really taken off. Sound seems to be a good way of doing it . There's a company called Sonadyne , just up the road , who have used blue light , because blue goes well through seawater, goes further than red and attenuates less. Thet've achieved high datarates using high power blue light. You had some real-time pictures at the vents, how is that done? That was using an ROV which is like a big box that you connect to the ship with perhaps 10km of cable, so you get real-time high-def video and you get to drive it round. You've taken a lot of measures to avoid leakage , but do you need hatches to recover data? With 6000 , because its connected up with wifi you just wifi the data off. We also need to charge it , which means there is a wet-mateable connector which you open to charge it. For a lot of the engineering data we just use wifi to get it off. When we use the camera systems on-board , over 24 hour period, about a terabyte of data . To do that via wifi would take a long time. So we have a little titanium bottle , take the cap off , with a hard-drive caddy inside . Remove the hard drive, , give it to the scientist and seal it up again. Making sure you're careful with the O rings. Then a poor PhD student has 3 years looking at 100,000 photos. Can you say more about the structure of the vehicle , I don't understand how it withstands the pressures? You said you flood the batteries with oil , so they are at the pressure of the seawater? They're pressure balanced. Big tub of oil, rubber diaphragm , at the same pressure as the ocean bottom. There isa pressure vessel and a couple of other ones, small ,discrete pressure vessels, generally titanium . Although titanium is expensive, yoiu need to float it. Its trong, doesn't corrode and light relative to stainless steel. All the electronics is inside these few small pressure vessels and at atmospheric pressure. You tend to fill it with silica gel as well , because if there is moisture in there it can condense on the electronics. So the rest of the interior is open to the sea? Yes, all the tail and nose section just floods. The panels on there are just to make it more hydrodynamic. Instead of poor PhD student having to pore over 100,000 images, could you use something like GalaxyZoo and let the public do the work? I have suggested that. We deliver the data to the scientists. For the Abyssal Plane we generated about 300,000 photos . The student who looked at those images had previously used a different platform that had given him 1500 photos and she'd spent a year looking at those 1500 and characterising them all properly. So I think something like GalaxyZoo would be a solution to that problem. People are also looking at neural networks where you take a huge data set, hire time on some huge Amazon server and it will just crunch through all of them. Because usually you want to find the "interesting" ones . But also people are interested i nthe statistics, so such as over this big patch of ocean , how many 7 sided star fish are there. S o habitat statistics. Then they want habitat statistics on a seasonal basis . So ideally you would do a survey every month for a year, generate the photos , and then #determine how the seasons affect the habitat. Currently people just don't know as its so difficult to get the data. What actually limits the depth to which these vehicles can go? They've been to the bottom of the Marianas Trench , from WoodsHole Oceanographic Institute , down to 11 km. The pressure primarily, making it strong enough so it doesn't imp[lode. So it can be donne, just more difficult? And more expensive. There is a story that when tkhey where testing instrumentation for This Merios Vehicle, they have a presssure pot where you take a thing, pump it up . They were standing by this pressure pot chatting as we are now. The lid blew off the pot , through the roof and ended up in the carpark. Chunk of thick steel and the pressure was so high . Water actually compresses , about 2.5% when you go down to 6000m . So 1100 bar for testing to 11km so a huge amount of energy. People don't do it because it doesn't get you to much more of the world's oceans. How much of the sub is made at the university in Soton? The NOC is entirely owned by NERC which is entirely different to the University of Southampton. We colaborate with the university and there are strong links. So the university does not build any of it. I've had PhD students working on aspects of it but not actually building the subs. We put the bits together and assembly . I've soldered up and packaged a lot of the battery packs of the older versions. But we had so many different problems with them that for the current packs they are made by an external company. You also need UN transportation testing . They don't have raw lithium metal in them but you hear of the Dreamliner aircraft and fires starting with lithium packs. So they need to go through the right sort of transportation testing otherwise you're not allowed to ship them. There is a story of a US submarine , called a swimmer delivery vehicle. A little sub you put on the back of a big sub which you take to areas you shouldn't be and fill it with Navy Seals who go out and do things they shouldn't. That was powered by Lithium batteries and they caught fire . a 100 million dollar vehicle w2hich was convertyed to a molten pile of slag in a few hours just because the batteries cooked off inside. Have you ever thought of using a different power source, like used on some satellites? Someone looked into this and all you need is 250 million quid and part of the US Navy. There are some developements in battery technology that are improving the performance. The best way of dealing wiht that issue is putting low power sensors on there, because it gives you such huge gains. Al l the work done for mobile phone technology is really speeding it along. You mentioned Woods Hole as anothe roceanography centre. Who else in the world is doing this sort of thing? Competing or colaborating? In the US there is also Scripps , Embari in Monteray Bay, Epremer in France , GMR in Germany , Janstech in Japan. At the NOC I think we have Europe's biggest fleet of marine autonpmous systems . Some of the things we've done with RUAVs are totally world class. One of our vehicles has gone in 60km under the Pine Island glacier , mapping the underside of the glacier and also the seabed. Nobody else in the world has done that. The camera work we've done is also pretty cutting edge. We're not risk seeking but we're happy to push the limits. I was talking to some colleagues from Japan, Janstech and they have a similar vehicle to Autosub6000 and they won't fly it any less than 30m from the seabed because they worry about it colliding with the seabed. So they can't take any photos and can't use high frequency side scan . We will survey an area and be confident of the vehicle's capabilities and know how it flies, we will get it close . In Japan they have the 6000type and will build another companion vehicle that will get closer and allow taking photos but we can do it in one hit, even in one mission. So do the high res survey to begin with and a vehicle on the surface , get the data back, quickly process it , if ok , send it on its way again and do the photo survey. Other groups are doing amazing things but in different areas. There was something on TV a couple of weeks back about Autonaut There is a big project at the moment called Masmo, Marine Autonomous Systems supporting Marine Observations or something like that. 2 gliders a surface wave glider , Sea Enduro and Autonaut and a couple more all deployed at the same time , going out from the Scily isles and going to the continental shelf. looking at ocean fronts, the mixing of different water masses, forming lots of chlorophyl and high productivity, then a food chain derriving from that, a huge a mount of marine life. Looking at how these fronts change as you get storms coming through as you move through the winter months. We have realtime displays of what is happening at the moment and I could pull it up on my pc, where they are and the realtime data coming in. You mentioned that AUVs are set on a predetermined path and developing the ability tocommunicate with htem, along the path. How about the ability to alter their course as things develop. ? We can do that currently, via an acoustic modem. If you're on a ship above them, you can send them a text message, bandwidth acoustically is pretty poor. You are limited to 80 characters per message. People have looked at making the vehicles smarter, so they can autonomously adapt to changing conditions. This always worries scientists because you don't know if it will adapt its mission in a stupid way. You don't want to spend a year writing your research grant , 3 years waiting to go out on the ship, deploying the vehicle then it decides to look for dolphins somewhere because it doesn't want to do what you want it to. Usally a mission is survey that box, give me the data, and then I'll tell you what to do next. Can you currently give this sort of change data? We could but we would not get information from the vehicle , say a big acoustic map, because you can't sent that in a text message. You really want it to come to the surface and have 2way high bandwith comms. You could sit there and if you had comms all the time you could look at making it more adaptive, because then you would know if it was doing something completely retarded. So do this box unless you find something interesting , but recall it soon after if inapropriate. It would make people more comfortable if there was an adaptive system onboard. The scientists are not pushing for it at the moment so we are not sweating over developing it. With your collision avoidence system you had a 75m cliff made out of rock , with a near horixzontal beam at it , you'd get a superb return off it, but do you get sloping sediment fields , barely callable sediment and get virtually no return off it? You can. I went out in the Solent , chucked the sensor off hte side of the ship, moving it up and down looking at the range that you get from dediment. If the grazing angle is too shallow you don't get a good return. You have to be 5 degrees plus and also not a good range if the sediment is really soft. Somehting rocky gives good returns from a long range. It would give a nice soft landing , but how much sediment could you have with little return but rock only 6 inches below it? If we're doing a multibeam survey and flying relatively high 50 0r 60m up you're only worried if you're in a nasty mountainous #area, anything else you would see something and pull up anyway. We have collided with the seabed and I've photos to prove it. You don't have a secondary system for the situation of very fine sediment over rock? If you cant see it with the existing sensor then we cant see it. There are some complications to the obstacle avoidence system, which I could go into, but crudely thats how it works. Its not optimised for very low level camera work, we may have to look at improving it for that. These proximity search beams are they sonar, radar, radio or do you use all 3. Its all acoustic so sonar . Is there an option that you can rapidly change , with just the kit on board, if the scientists wish to change operational requirements, mission to mission.? We were asked to do it once on a vehicle where there was 600KHz sonar system and they wanted to swap to 1200 system. You design some plates, undo some bolts , change a connector and bolt the other one in, its not too much pain. If its integrated its fine , but if someone turns up with a brand new sensor, can you just bolt it in, that can take a lot of work. We've also had people turn up with sensors that are not exactly homegrown but less than stellar in their design. If that sensor leaks then that can take out your whole vehicle. If something is big enough and it floods then you become negatively buoyant, and the weight you drop , you can still be negatively bouyandt. So loose the vehicle as a consequence. When the vehicles descent you said they spiral, why not straight down? We know roughly where we want to strart. If you have 6km to drop and you go down at 45 degrees , then you are 6km away at 6km down. Can you build an autonomous sub that could circumnavigate the Earth or is that scientifically not worthwhile? It would be worthwhile, but only navies have done it and with people in them. You could build a vehicle that could do it but it would need to be almost the size of a manned submarine to put the required amount of energy in it. With the business of the rubber ducks off container ships. Has anyonme worked on swarms of very small subs? Its one of those popular areas of robotics. They think a swarm of lots of them would be a lot better. From an oceanographic perspective a lot of the features you're looking at are so big that you need to comunicate a long way. Underwater you can only comunicate is by sound and if you go a distance away you can no longer comunicate. It all becomes a bit pointless. Instead come to the surface , satellite comunicate . In mine counter-measures that technique is useful, so navies have a lot of those sorts of vehicles, just for mine-hunting . A fleet of them and the concept of Gold-base ? planning. They would autonomously do a survey , decided individually . If one broke down , the others would fill in hte gaps. Mesh networks, peer-to-peer but often what happens , they comunicate via satellite back to base and are too far away to cominicate with each other so you end up with a star network . Its easier to have a big brain sitting in an oceanography centre doing the controlling of otherwise relatively dumb vehicles. Can you control them from Southampton, rather than from a nearby ship? If you have an internet connection, you can talk to them. 2 of our fleet you deploy from a ship and talk to them over wifi, so you need to be within wifi range, which is high power, and about 1km range. I read somewhere there are several thousand bouys drifting around the seas below the surface, now and again they come up and squirt off a message? Thats Argo Floats. They are like our gliders but without the wings. They have a bouyancy engine that let them dive up and down through the water column , down to say 1000m , ballast themselves so neutrally bouyant , drift with the current and pop back up and transmit. There are about 4000 of them dotted over the worlds oceans. Providing realtime info about what is happening in the oceans. There are not that mmany distributed over the vastness of the oceans. Do they all use the 38KHz sonic frequency that confused the MH370 searchers? Its just a dreadful frequency. All who have looked at it have said why the hell did they choose that? It gets into regulations . Dreadful because when its pinging on the bottom of the deep oceans , you can't hear it at the surface because it attenuates too much. If they changed it to say like 12KHz it would propogate far enough to be heard . We use a variety of different frequencies . Go low and the signal travels further but you can send less data over it. As its just pinging away , it should be nearer 12KHz, its just a dreadful choice. I think they all know its a dreadful frequency and they know the batteries don't last long . They will be changing from 30 day to 90 day battery and I think ideally they would change the frequency but there is so much regulation around air travel that it would just be too much pain to get international agreement to change that. When you lost your sub for 3 months, presumably there was a high power post-mortem a few months in . Did anyone at that meeting come up with the problem behind the failure, in retrospect? The suspicion was that it had sunk, because there were indications that it was negatively bouyant . The fact the abort weight failed was likely. We built up a fault tree , then say which is the most likely cause . We didn't identify the exact fault . The alternatives were it just lost comunication , so could have been floating on the surface but just not talking to us, but then you require the internal systems to have failed and the back-up systems would also have to have failed. We were using a new tracking system , it had some bugs in that software, so you think it might be the tracking system. Was it expected that when that flash-memory filled up there would be a second abort attempt? There was a number of lessons learnt . There is a battery that tries to discharge to break the burn wire , so why did you only leave it on for 10 minutes? You have energy in there why not leave it on all the time. If we had done it would have burnt through and we would have been ok. But more generally you can solve that problem , then for some reason back at base, its triggered , and flattens the battery for next deployment. Thinking of all the things that can fail is really quite difficult. We perhaps have trapped 99% but that 1% could cause real problems. In the NASA type situation they always seem to have a sedcond backup at base, they can go to it and try and sort out a problem that has occured on the deployed one on Mars or whatever.? I suppose in your circumstance ,if you have an operational bit of kit sitting there idle in hte docks, you would deploy it in the water? The difficulty there is that their not exactly the same. With NASA they always have 2 of everything , the same thing done exactly to each vehicle . I was talking to a guy at NASA AIMS there was an appocryphal story of a satellite gone up , supposed to be imaging a planet or something and could see nothing. He goes to look at its earthbound partner and the lens cap was still in place. A partner vehicle and its operational twin do not experience the same vibrations , same pressures or other environmental conditions , so how would you know. Can you think of unexpected discoveries during the missions? Were they are of the magnetising fields around the vents? I suspect they would have theorised it as such but not actually know and would not have been surprised at that result. In 2009 we went to Pine Island Glacier with autosub3 and mapped the underside of the glacier. S o flight in and looking up . So data showing here of the runs , 60km in , 5km under the glacier . They did not know there is a ridge there, so the glacier was sitting on a ridge which was slowing it down. As it melts, it melts from that ridge , warmer water is getting behind thar ridge which is increasing the melt . Looking from a ship you do not get that info, you have to go in to do it, with an AUV. You could go in wiht a manned submarine but you'd be crazy to do it. If that one glacier fully melts then world sea level rises several metres or so, so very important to know the process of melting of it. Why are some people against mining the old vent holes? What would be the impact, hoovering up the bottom of the ocean. Would you be putting toxic elements into the ecosystem down there and killing what is down there. People are a lot more conscious of this thses days. There willbe a full monitoring of any mining sites. No one has started it, number of challenges, finding the stuff , hoovering, then ensuring no environmental; catastrophe there . You don't hear about manganese nodules these days, did that hoovering idea fail? there is a brilliant story around that, Howard Hughes in the 1960s. He had the glomar explorer , a big research ship that was going to go out and hoover up manganese nodules, that was the background story. But he was funded by the CIA andit was a cover story to go and pick up a Russian submarine which was on the ocean bottom. They go out there, pick up this sub , a waste of time an=yway, as it was several generations out of date. They get it within a few hundred metres of the surface and they drop it. Then it seriously plummets back down , as it is completlely flooded, it ends up hitting the seabed with such force it spread itself over the bottom of the ocean. 100 million dollars of USA tax payers money went into picking up and dropping a nuclear Russian sub. So manganese nodules is a myth? No, it is credible. People are looking at manganese nodules .

10 November 2014, Reverend Stewart Timbrell: Herbs & the History of Medicine. ( Completely different presentation to the usual, no powerpoint safety net. Part comic monologue from and part an informative exploration of the links between herbs and medicine. I've decided not to transcribe the biographic, life-experience , as the comic timing and delivery would not transcribe well, and leave it open for people to experience for themselves, wherever he should repeat this talk. This was not the first time he'd delivered this talk ) 33 people, 1.5 hours ... The tutor came to me and said Stewart, you're from the countryside, I think you have the moral obligation to take these 24 cockney kids on a nature ramble. I learnt a great deal about children. They wanted to know names of the different birds. I was raised in a house full of fishing rods and shotguns . Anything that flew and it would go in the oven , I could tell you its name. My father had no time for anything you couldn't eat. They wanted to know the names of different trees, and I knew the ones that could be burnt on the cottage fire. The first thing I learnt about children , the best way of handling 24 of them was to walk them for at least 7 miles before turning back. By the time they got back to the college they were very quiet. I used to march them till they dropped. They started bringing wild flowers up. After daisy , buttercup and dandelion which I could name, I ran into serious difficulty. The second thing I learnt about children is that when they discover an area that you have no knowledge in ,then that is all they will ask questions about. I felt so ignorant , i went into Sevenoaks to the one and only bookshop. I need a botanical testbook to identify all the wild flowers around . You will need Bentham and Hookers British Flora. She came up with a second-hand copy , its got every flower you could possibly imagine, you won't need anything else. What's this mister and I said I've no idea but I have this marvelous book. I opened it and got a shock , it did have everything in except pictures. Worse than useless. I returned to the bookshop and complained and she said if you wanted an idiot's guide for wild flowers, you should have asked. Bentham and Hooke ruses the staminal rule. Look at your wild flower, say a vetch , take a floret off and look at it under a glass and you will see its of the sweet-pea family , a lugume from the genre leguminose. Open B&H at leguminose, she flitted through the pages and then again. I'm sorry I picked a bad example. Its called papalonacea in B&H but you'll get used to that. Open at papolonacia and count how many stamens there are , read the number in the left hand column , read across and you'll find a vivid botanical description and a double-barrel latin name. What's a stamen? ok, I'll go and get the othe rbook. She came out with a little red book, B&H uses the system of Lineus, a Swedish medical botanist. He paid people to collect the plants so he could make up the medicines. Whereever he went, different localities had different names for the same plant. Where you come from you call harebells bluebells and bluebells harebells. So he decided to rtegulise and give scientific names . He decided to use latin as being a dead language , it wouldn't get corrupted. He gave them latin names and soon realised that so many of them looked so much alike , he put them into families, rathe rerroneously. Anything with an umbel on it was part of the umbeliferae family and so on. So all plants ended up with a two-name name, he called the binomial nomenclature . Now this othe rbook uses a different system. If you find a flower with purple petals its in the purple pictures , blue petals blue pictures, do you think you can manage that. The next time I went out with the kids , believing all the flowers of the British Isles would be in here. one of them brought a clump out of a hedgerow, what's this mister? The thing didn't have a flower on it so the book didn't work. The tutor came up and said its vital that you get on with old people. You'll be allocated an old person and you'll visit that person for the next two years. Mr Timbrel will be visiting Mr Taft. I enrolled in botany evening classes. I thought they'd press plants in a book. They didn't do that. Cartridge paper and a soft pencil and sketched them, and a tin of paints. I pressed plants between newspaper , placed under the carpet and 6 weeks of walking over to press them. When I opened it up something like herbal tobacco . A chemist took pity on me. If we want to preserve the colour of these flowers, you have to keep the light and the air away. Get your flower, interlayer it between sheets of absorbent and non-absorbent paper, in a screw-press, tight as you van. The following day undo the flower stuck to the aborbent paper and stick some of that fablon marterial for covering books, covered in glue on one side. Put on the back, rub it over and it will be encapsulated. A coltsfoot pressed in 1968 , the flowers still there and the stem is still green. Every now and then pressing something such as a foxglove , next day it had gonea a bit brown, in a week it was jet black. Same with kingcup marigolds and cuckoopint and soloman's seal. I put them all to one side. The chemist came in my room and said you've separated all the poisonous flowers. They've gone black because there is a very active chemical in them. Either an alkaloid or a glycoicide and its reacted with your glue so its acting like an indicator. I said I don't think they're all poisonous , one is a buttercup. He said buttercups are very poisonous , they contain the glycocide renunculin . If you bruise the stems of buttercups they produce protoanemonine a powerful skin irritant. If you see a field of cows and buttercups , you'll see clumps of buttercups because the cows know they are poisonous even if you don't. What about buttercup syrup from the chemist's shop? He said I don't know what they put in buttercup syrup but I'll tell you one thing they don't put in buttercup syrup and that is buttercups. I went to a chemist and had a look at the bottle , no buttercups, its made out of squill. The second snag I hit after pressing and cataloguing a coup[le of hundred, I couldn't find any more. Someone pointed out that in the B.I there are over 2,500 wild flowers. I went to a farmer for some advice and he said you are 50 years too late. If you looked over one of my meadows 50 years ago you would not have seen grass, for wild flowers. A fortnight after we'd mown , the floor would be covered in corncockles, and looking along the hedgerows there would have been a rainbow of colours. But not now, we use nonilephenols? , selective weedkillers. 4 different sorts of nitrate , all you will see in my fields now is grass. If you want to find some orchids you'll have to find some uncultivated land. I thought of Biggin hill airfield. I went past all the Keep Out signs and up to a big green fence with a sentry box . I went up to sentry with the rifle and asked if I could go in and look for wild flowrs, no entry. I decided to get up early , before going to the old folks home, looked through the fence , and after a halfmile of this fence there was a gaping hole. There was a plant 9 inches high and petals 1.5 inches long with perfect squares painted on each petal. The field was full of them. I got hold of the idiots book , starting from the beginning and then the last page , last illustration was the meriabis? the snake's head frittilary. I was so pleased I was late to the old folks home. This is where all this rambling comes together. I saw Mr Tafts face . I blurted out that I'd found a rare flower this morning. He ran out of the room, running back and waving a very tatty old book. He said take it , its yours. Called Materia Medica , I'm not a medical student, Mr Taft, I'm a theological student. It was full of roots and berries , petals and sepals , bark and sap and every bit of every plant I'd heard of. I looked up and said, Mr Taft your a herbalist. He went red with rage, a herbalist, I'm a pharmasist. I've been a chemist for 47 years and you're the first imbecile to call me a herbalist. Sorry Mr Taft I didn't think herbs worked and he went peuce . I want you to go back to your college and put 2 pints of cold water in an aluminium saucepan and 8 ounces of sennapods, bring to the boil and simmer until reduced to a pint , sieve it through muslin and when its bloodheat I want you to drink the lot. Then come back to me and tell me herbs don't work. If a doctor has a patient who is terminal , and he can't do anything for them , he knows they will die, and in a lot of pain , what does he use.? Thats morphine I said. That's right , where does it come from? It comes from one of your flowers the Papava monosoferum? the opium poppy. And that flower gives us all the painkillers that work, up to date. Perhaps codeine , where does that come from? the opium poppy again. Codeine is just another alkaloid from the opium poppy . All the drugs we have are quite natural substances. The rain forests are being burnt down and we don't even know whats in there. Previously I trained in petrochemicals, so he asked me what synthetic chemists have made that is any good. I said asprin. The name asprin comes from Aspirea , the Spiria Almeiria the old name for the meadowsweet. That was discovered in 1840 , nobody did anything with it until the 1860s when Felix Hoffman , a German chemist, was looking for something to relieve his father's rheumatic pain. He found this worked like magic but he couldn't get enough of it. Then they found the same acid was in the bark of the willow tree, the salix, extracted it with acetic acid and came up with a stable Acetyl Salisilic Acid , asprin . The Baer chemical company started pumping it out and as part of the reparations after the great war , the germans gave us asprin. Our chemists didn't want farmers to start growing willow trees, so they synthesised it out of coal tar and it worked and they made it purer. Made it better and made it purer and then about 500 people took it on an empty stomach , had haemorrages and dropped down dead. Then instead of going back to have another look at the willow tree, they came up with phenocetin and our paracetomol. Then they wondered why the old people with rheumatism and arthritis were getting to 100 wheras the hail and hearty friends , with ruddy complexions and supple limbs were keeling over having strokes. The prevalence of strokes was rapidly gaining and the sociologists said it was the stresses of modern living. He said it was not stress , it was not using the things that were natural. When the blackberries were in the hedgerow , so were your grandparents, picking them. And elderberries for wine and all sorts of things. Grandma if her knees started hurting in winter she would reach for the bottle of elderberry wine . She didn't know it but she was getting natural salicins. Even in your book, the bible, you'll see they paid their tithes and taxes in mint and anise and cumin. They were shepherds, they wouldn't eat spring lamb . They would wait until a lion had taken a leg off an old sheep or an old tup and they would eat mutton. But you can't digest mutton without mint . They didn't know it but the enzyme in mint bonds with the pepsin in your digestive system. We still have mint with our mutton . There is a reason for all of these things. I still wasn't convinced and then he came up with something quite fascinating . Do you remember your parents telling you of collecting rosehips during the war ? There is 20 times more vitamin C in rosehips than in the same weight of oranges. He came up with some articles from the botanic gardens at Kew and the wartime need for medicine. Kew was used as a collection centre from a lot of these things that I thought were old wives tales. And between 1941 and 1945 they collected 1,957 tons of rosehips. THe cash value, then in 1945 was 50,000 ponds. They also collected conkers, nettles , red seaweed, dandelions. A French friend of mine came over after doing his national service , went into my back garden and said pis en lit. In Lancashire we called them wet-the-beds because they stimulated kidneys . He was beginning to get me interested and he started digging out the pharmaceutical journal. A lot of these things were considered rubbish until we got colour gas chromatography. The first prusomide? they came up with , people became ill because they were loosing potassium . When you looked at the dandelions there is natural potassium in the roots. A lot of buffers that when we thought we were taking the active principal , everything else we thought was rubbish, hada purpose. The Pharmaceutical Journal started looking like Potter's Seed Catalogue. . During the war they couldn't get liquorice and all the cough medicines he made up, used to work , but not without liquorice in it. Years later when they started looking for something for the AIDS epidemic , quoting from the PJ "Glicoritus Glabarus ? ,liquorice, when given orally to an a-symptomatic HIV carriers , delays the progression of symptoms, boosts the immune system and stimulates the body to grow interferons to attack the virus". When I was a kid we were all given little sticks of wood to chew , liquorice root , and solid liquorice juice which was a black stick, fractured like coal tar. We'd put it in a bottle with warm water, shake it up and make liquorice pop which had terible side effects. As time has gone by a lot of these things have come into their own. Hippocrates, the father of medicine said let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food. I went to a greengrocers and they had these orange sticks like sticks of rock, carrots from Holland the greengrocer said. No carrots have a point at one end and something green at the other end. These things today don't taste of anything. Nowadays you're foisted off with an iceburg lettuce with its plastic overcoat. Its never been near soil , hyrop=onically grown . Show one to a slug in your garden and it will jump over the fence. If you go on a holiday, take your iceburg in its plastic overcoat , left in the salad drawer of your fridge. When you come back a fortnight later it will still be as crispy . Because nothing should touch that and neither should you, he said. Have you heard them say an apple a day keeps the doctor away? It may be an old wive's tale but there is a reason for it. In the days they boiled the cabbage until it turned to soup, boiled the carrots and mashed it up similarly. They ate the apple raw and gotr the pectin and pectolase. Anything with ase on the end is a n enzyme and you need enzymes in your food , something fresh. Because anything your body needs is processed by the liver with enzymes. A lot of these enzymes have the source in your food. If you are going to boil, sterilise and irradiate everyhting you won't get any enzymes. As for tomatoes, in the old days , you just followed your nose . A box of all sorts of sizes ,shapes and colours. Now they are all the same size and colour , its outrageous. Why are they like that? They are gamma irradiated , they get them at a certain colour , right colour and texture and irradiate to death. If you don't believe me do what my mothe rused to do. If she wanted to ripen a tomatoe , she wrapped it in paper and popped it in a drawer for a couple of days . Do that with the modern ones they'll go black inside and as hard as glass. If you eat dead food you're going to die. He said, we should look harder at the things we intent to eat. Eat the fruit of the Earth in due season. If you get blackberries in May , imported from god-knows where, they don't taste of anything. Big and wet but no taste. Compare them with the blackberries from the hedgerow in October . I did think he was slightly potty. He said tell me something that has changed. I said , antibiotics have changed the face of the Earth. Indeed they have and they'll probably wipe us off it. And you think Alexander invented penicillin. If you get out the Anglo Saxon Chronicle , if they had a superating wound they'd rub into it mold off bread and pack it up with spagnum moss and it would heal. During the first world war , spaghnum moss was collected, very absorbent and antiseptic wound dressing. We used onions as a wound dressing, these wonderful things all forgotten about. When he started as a hospital pharmacist , the nurses would go past me in their civilian clothes, they'd change and shower before going on the ward. and every ward had a wash basin in the centre for hand washing, spirit them off and go to the next bed. When I finished as a pharmacist the nurses came to work in their uniforms, straight onto the ward going from patient to patient. When I challenged them about this aseptic technique , they said, no matter, we have antibiotics. There is no substitute for proper hygiene. If you play games with mothe rnatiure, she'll win. They couldn't get enough penicillin in 1940 and they looked around for something else. They got a report from Rothampstead Soil Research Labs, where a Hugh Nichol had got a bursary from a French perfume company to find out what gave soil its funny smell. He discovered in a spoon of soil there are billions of different bacilli. They all compete and they all produce something to fend off their enemies, so we end up with a pyramid. The top bacillus in English soil was actino-mycelium . In 1940 they found a policeman dying of a stafflochle infection , injected the actino-mycelium into him, killed the bacteria , unfortunately it then went on to kill the patient. But that didn't stop them. They wondered if different antibiotics were in different soils from different lands. They got chloraphenicol from Venuzuela, tetracyclin from Indiana, vancomycin from Borneo, Arithmaricin from arithros the red soil of the Philipines , 5000 different antibiotics. Whatever you went to the doctor about, you were handed out antibiotics. As a result we got all these resistant strains of bacteria. You'll be young enough to see someone going into hospital and coming out with something entirely different, probably in a box. I could not accept that but of course years later emerged MRSA the first of these blessed things. I could never remember if it was Methycilin resistant staflocockle or streptocal aureus until I mentioned it to a friend who had the Journal of Hospital Infection. You can remember it is stafflocochle because its the staff who transmit it. Going back to the liquorice article and at the bottom of the page. Systemic antiflammatory action of plants. The antiflammatory response in joints or whatever is nature's way of protecting the joints , a sort of padding. But with plastic surgery it is often necessary to get the inflamation down . They came up with anascomosus and research in S America resulted in the isolation of the protein bromaline. Anascomosus from pineapple. If you put fresh pineapple in a jelly , it won't set , it breaks down the double bonds. Why do we go to the soil for the antibiotics? We shouldn't. If we have a tree with bracket fungus growing on it , you know its lost its defences, it takes up the actinomycelian from the soil , converts it into something else. Every plant protects itself from resources from the soil . If kids have a sore throat , instead of giving them good old liquorice and menthol. But now its sugary coated sweets to rot children's teeth, outrageous. An apple a day doesn't work any more. Go and get my some Russets or Golden Spires, you can't. You'll end up with French Golden Delicious. They're not golden, not delicious and you won't catch a Frenchman eating one. You'll never see a wormhole in a Golden Delicious apple. Go to Australia and you will see they leave them on the trees until they actually go golden and they are then delicious. But in that state they bruise to easily, but pick them before the fruit acid sets you can chuck them about in lorries , put them in cold storage for a year . You may as well eat sawdust. He gave me an article on diet and the prevention of cancer, which has beed re-issued in the Pharmaceutical Journal quite recently. A lot of this is to do with cash crops. When Hypericum Perforatum, St John's Wort was useful, they started growing it . Then the committee on safety of medicine gave advice on hte use of St John's Wort . They fed a cow with 1.5 cwt of it and it became ill, so dangerous. The next month "Legal Challenge to Hypericam Perforatum" the Germans wanted the Irish to stop growing it as a cash crop. Mr Taft was saying we shouldn't need to go to the soil because the plants would be doing the chemistry for us. I was sent an article , the enzyme therapy most tested as anti-cancer treatment involves the administration of aspazinase, ase at the end, enzyme. Getting the aspasinase from the asparagus and puming it into the blood stream to clean up the free radicals. Healthy cells can produce all but 8 of the essential amino acids but cancer cells can't. Cancer cells scavage. In the old days if grandma had a laprotemy, and could not do anything about the cancer, the surgery of a large incision stimulated the body to produced new amino acids and the cancer cells would gobble them up and grow like topsy. This aspazinase is astonishing stuff. If you get a tin of asparagus , the enzymes survive the tinning process. Leave it in the pantry for a year or 2 , it turns into green fluid. My old mum , with Alzeimers, would go into hospital for respite . The last time she went in, the nurse came over to say she had MRSA. Don't touch the dressing, we'll come and dress it every 3 days. It was getting worse . When the nurse had gone, I whipped off the replacement and put neat tea-tree oil on it and a loose dressing. Left it a few hours, then replaced the original nurse's dressing. On returning the nurse noticed a demarkation line, took some swabs . 5 lots of swabs later, I don't know how its happened , I'm certain your mothe rhad MRSA but not now. I told her about the teatree oil interference and she went through the roof. A few weeks later an article in the Journal of Hospital Infection there was an article "Tea Tree Oil as an alternative decolonisation agent for MRSA" and placed it in front of the nurse. Thats alright but we can't use it , its not been liscenced and when it is liscensed it will be so expensive we won't be allowed to use it. This cash business is frightening. Its no accident that the chemical companies that make the medicine also make the cosmetics. We were studying the ethics of transplants. Then Christian Barnard started doing heart transplants and people survived because of cyclosporin from the bark of the Norwegian Spruce. I revisited Mr Taft many years later to tell him of the cyclosporin. Thats nothing, he says, what about the Uncobis Spinosa , the Cortinaser trees of the Amazonian rain forest and 27 new anti-cancer drugs. Also vincristin and viblastin from the Madagascar periwinkle , the cure for childhood leukaemia. Echinacea, all these marvelous things. And they're burning down the forests before we find out whats in them. I ended up with his possessions when he died. The first thing out was a brass object 4 inches long a mold for casting suppositries. A note saying going and see me old professor at Nottingham, prof Trees. He was still alive and I went to Nottingham to see him, full head of hair, deaf as a post. I had an inner ear infection, doctor put me on streptomycin , too long, too strong. Wiped out all the hair follicles in the cochlea. Made me stone deaf. His wife , Joyce , her knees came up with arthritis , they'd been messing about withthe adrenal cortex at the top of the kidney and had come out with steroids. The doctor injected steroids directly into the knee , the inflammation went down overnight and she gave the wheelchair away. A few months later, her knees came up again, went to the doc , injected steroids again. The third time of injecting he wiped out all the eyelets of langrans in the pancreas and turned her into a diabetic. Thats why they call it practising medicine. I emptied Mr Tafts's teachest and at the bottom was a little black book. On the spine it said British Pharmacopea , I thought it can't be. I've got the 1923 one and its as big as family bible and the 58 one is even bigger. It was the first one from 1853. In 1850 the Society of Chemists and Pharmacists and Grocers, had all got together . They were still using the 1680s Pharmacopia Londinensis all written in Latin. In it there were things like Aqua Lumbriti where lumbriti was latin for earthworms. And if you were short of breath there was nothing better for it than to eat raw foxes lungs. So in 1853 they came up with the book of empirical medicine, medicines they really believed worked. I flicked through this book and there was Elicamponi, ... , all these things I'd been reading up about. Things that work, things like basil, valued for centuries. The arab school of medicine used it as well as Pliny, its carminitive and antispasmodic. Borridge , Cammomile , go to spain and you have gippy tummy , they will give you cammomile tea. The Egyptians prized the herb for gastric disorders and the 1923 British Pharmaceutical Codex had 6 different preparations for cammomile in it, the paramatic bitters in it. Chickweed - I met someone who had been in a Japanese prison of war camp. He watched his English friends quietly die but he noticed the Javanese prisoners were rooting up a weed from under the fence and adding to their handful of rice. Found out it was Stellaria Media and he started eating it too. He survived and when he came back he looked at what was in chickweed. Crammed full of vitamin C, calcium, potassium and all sorts of provitamns. The herbalists of old used it to treat skurvy. Clevers. A lot of these herbs, the Latin names give a clue to what they were used for. Clevers, not a latin name . Gallium , the milkplant because our ancestors would collect the sticky buds when walking , the cleave. Get warm milk, smash up the cleavers and it separated the fats and proteins out for making cheese . It has a glycocide , asperilosise its called with a wonderful effect on milk. Coltsfoot has a latin name that tells you what it was used for Tusilego Farfarra, Tusis the latin for cough, it was a cough remedy. Corriander for griping pains, fennel water used still for babies. Elderberries marvellous for salycins, the list goes on and on. Evening primrose rediscovered only perhaps 30 years ago, cultivated throughout Europe in the 17 century lots of interesting properties. Fennel was in the pharmocopea 1923, 1949 and thrown out in 1953. A great favourite of the romans as a carminitive. I went to a vet and asked if they use any plants in vetenary medicine. An animal in its natural habitat will pick its own medicine. Not an old wives tale. In lambing time you often get sheep that will completely forget to eat, healthy lambs but the ewe will die. If you find them quick enough and put a bit of gentian on their tongue, they will pick up their head and look around for something to eat. I thought I'd see if it was used by humans. I got the British National Formulary, the little red book the doctor carries around. In there it still has gentian root in there, but it says the action of this herb is useful purely by the power of auto-suggestion. I went back to the vet and asked when you give the animal gentian root do you tell them what its going to do? Geranium, I was going around the Lake District, looking for plants . But some seem to be dying out, you don't see them any more. If I found a plant that was a bit rare , and with seeds, I'd spread them about a bit. If you find honeysuckle growing in the same place as fennel even if there is no other evidence, there has been a building there at some time, because they were grown in the garden. Its long been argued there is no such thing as an expectorant, but lovage . You can't have camphor anymore , banned by the EEC. But Go to France, Spain , Tenerife and ask for camphor and you can have as much as you want. You cant get castor oil from the chemist any more . All these things that work, its infuriating. Peppermint, the enzyme bonds with the pepsin in your digestive system, carminitive for irritable bowel syndrome or anything like that. Mr Taft told me that at the time before fridges, birds for cooking were stuffed with sage and thyme because they were anticeptic. Bunches of sage and thyme behind a door somewhere and if someone got a sore throat they wouldn't eat sugary pastilles they'd boil the sage and thyme and gargle with it. The best anticeptic we have is thymol bu tthe drug companies have swapped it to phenol from coal tar. Thymol is twice as effective and oly a qurater as toxic. In the war people collected nettles , wonderful source of vitamin A, C , manganese, iron . I think my favorite herb has got to be valerian root. I worked as a chaplin in a psychiatric hospital. A big problem with people overdosing on things like valium. When admin in the hospital annoyed me I'd lock myself in a room , a handful of valerian root capsules , a big cup of tea and I'd turn into a pussycat. It was used in the first world war to treat shell shock, for people who couldn't sleep , tincture of valerian . Its not hypnotic, you can talke a bucketful and drive. The arabs in the 10th century paid more that its weight in gold for it. It was thrown out of the British Pharmacopia when they came up with vallium. The number of youngsters I've buried because they overdosed on vallium, nobody ever overdosed on valerian root, if you tasted it, you'd realise why. You can get it in little gelatine capsules these days. Don't think I'm saying go to the herbalist instead of going to the doctor. The man who invented homeopathy made his money on camphor. I'd never be without it, I always pick it up when abroad. I get one of those Vic inhalers, smash a lump . If I go on a plane I fill my lungs with camphor as they recirculate the air . We're the only country in the world that obeys these silly rules, very annoying. What I am saying is that its no accident that having sprouts , after the first frost, from someone's allotment , how much better they taste. The taste of hedgerow blackberries of august or september ar emindblowing. Go along a rail embankment and find some wild strawberries, break one of thos ein your mouth, you'll get the shock of your life, an explosion of taste. If you can grow something yourself you know how much better it tastes. So think again, what you're feeding to kids . If they have a sore throat get some prope rliquorice rathe rthan rot their teeth with pastilles . Perhaps the next time you reach for Andrews liver salts you'll stew a bit of rhubarb instead and think of me and Mr Taft. Q&A Why do the Chinese value herbal medicine so much but not so in the west? Its a cultural thing more than anything. The Indian medicine, aovedic ? medicine that is very similar. We tend to thibnk of ourselves as a scientific culture, so we go for modern advances . Previous generation of training in medicine, they had to study plants and resources from them. It was connected with diet and food, now medicine is separated from food consideration. I think we will go back to it. We tend to look down our noses at a lot of Chinese medicine, you get quacks in every discipline, sad really. There seems to be an accepted opinion that the spice trade , with the orient, started because of pepper. But I've also heard said that it was to get there hands on cloves , which in mediaeval times was the only thing to deal with abcesses and severe tooth-ache. Any opinion on that? Cloves isa spice. A lot of the capsicum medicines , early medicines , had peppers in it. For one thing, that if something tasted awful then they believed it was probably good medicine. Also novelty, getting things they'd not had before, so people put clainms on it. Also the more difficult and expensive it is to get hold of something , peoplke believe like rhino horn , tiger-claw etc they put great value to and its complete rubbish. Medicine you don';t always get what you pay for. I should say I worked as a scientific lab technician in Eucryl products in Southampton that made cough mixture and buttercup syrup and ralgex. I never realised that the 2 years that I worked there that salycilic acid was based on sali the latin for willow. For anyone interested, cough mixtures , just have alcohol in them. As a child , slugging down every 15 minutes , some alcohol. Your approach was that herbs were not being understood scientifically. I'd like you to consider the ancient art of sympathetic medicine, theosophy and things like that. When they invoked the gods they would burn or eat something , not just for illness curing but to invoke something. I wondered if yourself, with a Christian background, whether you found a conflict in understanding the ancient beliefs of why herbs worked.? No conflict at all. If something is right, if something works, I think its right. No truth can be foreign to the truth. I've some Indian friends , I don't see any conflict. The problems only emerge when you try to inflict your culture on another culture. Not a conflict on working or not but a conflict in the understanding about it working by being in sympathetic harmony , rather than the more rationalistic scientific and chemistry approach. ? To me laughter is the best medicine . It releases endorphins and does all sorts of amazing things. But if you believe in something strong enough then I think it can have an amazing effect. When I was a curate, I went to see an old gent. His wife rang me and said he was dying , the doctor was coming to him this morning, and I've never kept a secret from him, would you come with me. He was in bed and said oh you've brought a priest, thats a bad sign isn't it, how long have I got. The doctor thinks you've got about 6 weeks. He said well you've brought the right man, open that bottom drawer while I get dressed. Have you a car and I said yes . I want to go to Blackpool , I want to go to ..... , he lived 15 years after that. What goes on up here is a heck of a lot more important than we think. I'm a practical pragmatic person, if sonmething is working , use it, if its not working, throw it away. Do you believe in homeopathy? Culpeper once said , if a clergyman is at the point of death , you can actually bring him round by saying that he has preferment, to be made a bishop or something. I think there isa lot more goes on , in the noggin, than we can conceive of. Would you say homeopathy just relies on the placebo effect? I would not underplay the word placebo. I think if someone really believes in something amazing things can happen. In Cuba they treat 11 million people with homeopathy? But it defies science , dilute something a thousand times , it is then sub-molecular . I have a sister who believes very strongly in this. I had very bad broncitis and she insisted I take this and it worked. And I understand the science and I didn't believe it, but I got better. I don't know if it was coincidence but she believes emphatically that irt was the medicine, I'm not so sure. Are you planning to give any other talks in Southampton? No, its quite a way for me . Driving here from Poole at night , not knowing the area , was a challenge. Whats happening in schools in terms of teaching kids of the medicinal aspects of plants. There seems to be a problem of children being disconnected from their food etc? Its frightening really. All the names I've been spouting to you, all ring bells with you but we have a generation of kids to whom it mans nothing. A bit sad. A was surprised to here of a hospital report making water a medicine as people weren't sufficiently hydrated. It seems some people are forgetting the basics? It amazes me the number of kids who never drink water, its got to #have sugar in it , to rot their teeth. I heard you speak passionately about the plants that had been banned by the EEC for medical use. I notice, particularly in the USA, drug companies taking out patents on natural remedies? Do you think something sinister is going on there? Its all to do with money. How many people are around to pass on this herbal information if the medical profession is not getting that info? Nobody I suppose, i don't know, its very sad. What you say is true for this country but in other countries they do know and trialling things with proper scientific method? Yes. When I was a nipper , the old people used to talk about the sixpenny doctor. Before 1948 , and they would get something off the allotment rather than paying to go and see the doctor. I met a retired doctor, and when he started to practise , he had just 4 bottles of coloured water. And the thing that amazed him wasd that people got better. As a curate I went to visit where a grandma was dying and the whole place was upside down. I went back an hour later and there was perfect peace. The lady said the doctor has been , he'd not done anything, but just his presence. Such faiith can do wonderful things. You were saying that over different periods, different things were dropped from the various pharmacopia . What was the reason behind that?. That people had done blind trials and found wanting? The 1953 one just about all the natural substances were wiped from it. I assume because they had gone synthetic for one thing and also that they'd extracted various principals from things and would no longer use the plant. The bromalein from the pineapple . Some of it is good science, they found the active principal, but often the stuff they were throwing out , was important, it wasn't just ballast. You can't patent chickweed or whatever? Thats right [discussion] There's a patent where dock as an astringent, I think its Roche or a big German chemical company are apparently patenting that I thought things had to be novel to be patentable Sometimes in the US its not the thing being novel but the use being novel and thats where the US patent office sometimes let things through that in other jurisdictions would not be allowed Its only any good if challenged, and can be chucked out. The fact they have a patent doesn't matter until its challenged. Does everyone know about the Chelsea Physik garden in London, a couple of hundred years old. And all those plants were there as a resource for the physicians of the time? And the Oxford equivalent. Even at Wimborne there is the old physic garden. And Romsey , behind the King John House. I think a problem with using herbs is getting the dose right because clearly they are impure , so people are not getting enough or to much active component, so potentially quite dangerous? Depending on the time of season its picked. The old hippocratic oath included not to do harm. A lot of the medicines of the old days was producing poisons , Socrates used laudenum to kill himself etc. i wonder how you reconcile the use of plants for beneficial use to the potential of plants for evil .? Talking about sympathetic medicine before. So for cramps cure take a small dose of some medicine that will give you cramps and it cures it. Strychnine in tiny doses is wonderful medicine . Thetre was a patent medicine that contained strychnine, it worked a treat, they took the strychnine out and it didn't work any more. Water is a poison if you drink enough of it, you can kill yourself with anything. As you were saying, its the dose that is most important . Like when they fed a cow with 1.5 hundredweight of St John's Wort. How good is the teaching and training of herbalists? There seems to be a lot of people setting themselves up as herbalists. I think its pretty thorough as regards to dosages and poisons . I've not gone into myself at all as I'm more interested in food than medicine and also I believe in current conventional medicine , with all its faults and problems. You mentioned that new drugs are being developed from tropical plants , that have been largely unknown. Is there active research into finding these plants before they are lost? A huge volume has come out called the Phytochemical Dictionary and various universities are submiting articles on things they've discovered , getting fatter and fatter all the time. I can't afford the cost now, the last volume was 170GBP. All the poisons are in there, the effects they have on cells, stimuli etc, fascinating. Are there enough people being sent to tropical parts, to collect syuch plants? Yes, even professionals doing it. All botanists want to find something new and putting their namr to it. Has marijuana got any benefits? It was in the pharmocopia right up to 1953 and it will probably come back again. Used properly. I know people with MS , not suppose to hacve it , but aquired under the table and it helps. Then again if you really believe in something and the fact that it is illegal may make it more effective. One company in the UK produces it for medical use.

08 December 2014, Zoe Slade, STAG, Southampton Uni Title: The problem with quantum gravity Synopsis: Quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of gravity are the two pillars of modern physics but a successful cohesion of them eludes us. This talk will introduce both theories and discuss their reconciliation. 48 people, 1.5 hours. Newton published his Law of Universal Gravitation in 1687 to describe the force of gravity. His law states that 2 bodies , eg sun and earth , gravitational attraction, gravitational force that is proportional to the product of their 2 masses and inversely proportional to the separation squared. Give the sun more mass and the gravitational attraction will increase and if I pull them apart then the force will decrease. The equation only has 5 components and successfully describes how the planets orbit the sun . To this day its still used in calculations. However there are some conceptual ways of thinking of gravity as an attractive force . So the sun and earth experiencing gravitational attraction but not in physical contact , so how is this force being conveyed. This force is being conveyed through a vacuum of empty space which is a bit more puzzling. Furthermore this force is acting instantaneously , the Earth is immediately feeling the effect of the Sun's gravitational pull. Physicists don't like the concept of things happening instantaneously. This is because of Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity, in which he proved that nothing, no force, no influence, not even gravity can travel faster than the speed of light. So in Newtonian mechanics, if we moved the Sun from the solar system , imagine it suddenly disappears from our Solar System then the planets will immediately feel this lack of a pull from the sun and they will start moving out of their orbits. According to special relativity, the first signal that we'll receive from the disappearance of the Sun would be in the form of light or the lack therof, as that will be the fastest travelling signal. So Einsteinian special relativity was showing the Newtonian picture as the way of thinking of gravity as an attractive force , was wrong. Einstein came to the rescue when he produced his theory of gravity , called General Relativity published in 1916. General relativity replaces this idea of thinking of gravity as a force with the idea of gravity being the bending of space-time (ST). Space-time, physicists like to think of time being another dimension , the 3 dimensions of space and going forwards in time , as another dimension, binding them together in a single fabric , he called space-time. We can get some perception of the bending of ST by imagining it as a blanket stretched out. Place a heavy object on the blanket , it will warp in the vicinity. The same with ST the bending or warping. This bending of ST can affect the path of another object . So say throuhg in a planet to the system at a well calculated speed and angle then we can get our planet to orbit our sun, following the curve created in ST by the sun. So the mass tells ST how to bend and in turn , the ST tells other matter how to move. This idea is encapsulated in Einstein's Field Equations . The left side of the equation captures the bending of ST and the right side encapsulates the information about the matter and energy, relating the two. So we replace the Newton concept of an attractive force with a concept of gravity bending ST. Its the bending of ST that we feel as the effect of gravity. So the Earth isn't orbiting the Sun because the Sun instantaneously reaches out and grabs, its simply reacting the curves in ST created by the sun's presence. To accept it as a correct theory of gravity , we need to put it to rigorous experimental tests. In 20 and 21 century, general relativity has stood up to all epxperimental tests and really is our best theory of gravity. What else does GR tell us . It predicts strange astranomical anomalies called black-holes. BH form at the end of a massive star's life cycle. This is when the internal pressures of a star can no longer support the force of gravity wanting it to collapse. When it does collapse it creates a huge explosion known as super-nova. They are so bright they outshine entitre galaxies . Mosdt of the mass of a star is blown away in the explosion. The fate of the remnant depends on how massive it is. If it is 3 to 4 times the mass of our own sun then the collapse will contine but stabilise and we'll get a compact star , eg a neutron star. If the mass is greater than that, then the collapse will contine until infinitessimally small, infinitely dense, point called a singularity . That singularity has such immense gravitational effect that not even light can escape its grasp, cloaked in darkness and its that region of ST that we call a BH. A BH will locally bend ST so much that imagine chuck a planet now into this ST it will fall right down to the singularity, and not be able to escape. So far in reference to gravity I've referred to large scale structures, sun , planets, BHs. But gravity acts on all scales , everything feels the effect of gravity. With big objects we can see the effects of gravity more immediately. When studying very small scale phenomena , atoms, particles such as protons and neutrons or electrons , we can ignore the effects of gravity. At small scales gravity is negligible in comparison to the other forces that act at these scales and govern the dynamuics and interactions and behaviours of particles. As an example put a pin on the floor and try to pick it up with a magnet , very easy. So the magnetic force, and electromagnetic-force, that governs the interaction of these particles can overcome the gravitational effect of the Earth on that pin. So E-M force is strong compared to gravity. So ignoring gravity is like performing ST calculations with a flat blanket. Thats what we do in quantum mechanics . There is also th eweak force, governing the process of beta-decay. The strong force binds protons and neutrons together in a nucleus of an atom. And also gravity. The first 3 are dealt with in quantum mechanics , describing small things at atomic scales and below. At the beginning of C20 there were particle experiments performed. Some observations could not be explained by conventional ways of thinking. In 1800s Thomas Young performed the double split experiment. A monochromatic light source shone at a screen with 2 slits in it. Carries on to a detector screen where we see a pattern of light and dark bands, an interference pattern. We can explain that pattern by modelling light as a wave. peak and peak of a wave gives a bright spot, peak and trough coincident then a dark patch. So an interference pattern is indicative of something behaving like a wave. Repeat using electrons, so particles. An electron gun firing electrons at a plate with 2 slits, then on to a photo-detector screen , electron impinging produces a flash of light. First with one slit open, then over time building up the dots of light we get a band of light. But when we open the other slit , we get an interference pattern . So the electrons are behaving as waves as they are interfering. Digging deeper. Lets send the electrons through one at a time , hitting the detector screen , before we let the next electron leave the gun. Over time we find the same pattern , still the interference pattern , weird. We have a single eloectron passing through somehow knowing that there is 2 slits and not 1 and landing in the perfect position , so that on completion wiht all the electron paths , we have an interference pattern. Maybe the electrons split into 2 , before going through both slits. Maybe they can transform into a weird cloud and pass through. So add a detector at one slit, so when an electron passes it beeps, run it and the behaviour is as we think particles should behave, localised tiny points. We end up with 2 clumps of detected electrons. As soon as we spy on them then they behave as we'd expect. This is wave-particle duality, that matter like electrons will exhibit both particle and wavelike properties. An electron is detected as a single pulse, a single point, on the detector screen but the interference pattern is indicating the probability we have , that an electron could be absorbed anywhere on the detector screen. This experiment has been done with heavier particles , been done with molecules and the same results. As it is a duality, it must work both ways. There are experiments we can do where light is not behaving as a wave but as particles. One such is the photo-electric effect . A metal plate with light shone on it, lets electrons be freed from the plate. The only way we can explain the energies these electrons have is to have light behave asa particle. A particle of light is known as a photon. Einstein remarked, we are faced with a new kind of difficulty. We have two contradictory pictures of reality , separately neither fully explains the phenomena of light but together they do. The same can be said for particles. To explain this , the branch of physics known as quantum mechanics developed. The study of the very small. The quantum world is fundamentally probabalistic. Demonstrated by the double slit experiment. We can't say definitively which slit any electron has passed through . This is in opposition to the everyday world which is deterministic, ie given enough initial information we can predict the outcome of something. If I drop something towards the floor, and I know how fast its going, I know what angle it hits the floor at, I know hat the floor is made of etc, I can then predict where it will bounce to for example. Even the founders of QM found the probabalistic nature of the subatomic world quite unsettling, giving rise to many philosophical debates, indeed still to this day. Our brains are made of particles and particles act with randomness probabalistic way, so what does that imply with my free will, do I have free will. Just as in the theory of gravity and general relativity , we need to put this theory of QM to the test before we believe it, before we trust it. QM gives the best agreement between theory and experiment in the whole history of science, so no matter how strange these phenomena are, it does seem to be the best theory we have of the sub-atomic world. General relavity is very successful in its deterministic domain of the very big and QM is very successful in its probabalistic domain of the very small. So we don't want to give up on either . Why do we want to reconcile them, a combined theory. Why do we want a theory of quantum gravity. There are situations in nature where we have a strong gravitational force but on a very small scale . One example is BH . Another singularity of interest is the birth of the universe, 13.8 billion years ago, when all the matter of the universe was compressed into a singularity at the time of the big bang. These singularities are beyond the reach of GR, although large mass , it is compressed to microscopic scales. So we expect the laws of the micro world , of QM, will have to come into play and be obeyed. And those laws are not incorporated into GR. When we have very strong gravitational effects on really small scales we require a theory of Quantum Gravity. Its not just any small scale we're interested in . We are interested in the Planck scale, 0.0 ... 33 other zeros ... 16 metres. Imagine someone 1m tall , zoom in by 10 billion we are looking at one of the atoms he's made of, go in a further factor of a trillion trillion we ge t to the Planck scale. Despite many efforts there currently isn't a consistent theory of QG. Some approaches to QG include string theory, modelling the universe at the Planck scale as if everything was made of tiny strings. They replaced the idea of zero dimensional particles with the idea of 1 dimensional strings. Also Loop Quantum Gravity , think that at the Planck scale ST takes on a grainy/granular-like structure . Many more approaches to finding a theory of QG including asymptotic safety (AS) which is the area I work in. I have to introduce the idea of effective theory. We want to describe gravity at the PS where the effects of QG are strong . Lets try the next best thing, lets try a theory of QG that is perfectly good at describing at the atomic scale, so small scale , where we need to obey the laws of QM but not to hte PS, we're not asking for too much. Yes we can do this , gives sensible predictions , well behaved , so far so good. What happens if we push our theory and ask it to tell us what the QG effects are going to be , a description of gravity effects at the PS. Then it breaks down , it spews out infinities, nonsensical predictions and we can't perform meaningful calculations with this theory. This is the idea of an effective theory, a theory only applicable down ot a certain lenght . Say I wanted to right down the process of boiling water and then that water evaporating. For that I only need to appeal top the molecular structure of water. The molecules bound together with hydrogen bonds. Upon heating of the water , the bonds break and the molecules escape the liquid form as a gas. Thats my description, thats my theory. I certainly don't need to think about quarks that make up the protons that live in the nucleus that make up the atoms , inside the molecules. I don't need to consider the finer details, the smaller scale to be able to describe the phenomenon competely accurately . Or at least i na way I can make sensible predictions. However we want a theory valid at all scales, which is called a fundamental theory. Fortunately there exists some clever maths that we can do, where we take a theory , a trial theory of QG and zoom in and see if that theory works at the PS. This is how the asymptoptic safety community procede. We take an effective theory of QG, crank the handle , does it break down at the PS, is it rubbish at describing BH, does it spew out infinities . Or does it give sensible predictions at the PS, can we use it to describe the interior of a BH. A rough outline. Even if we could write down a theory of QG tomorrow, there is no way we can test it . To probe at the PS we would need to get accelerators up to ridiculously high energies which we simply can't do. We can make astrophysical observations , cosmic microwave background , the thermal radiation left over from the Big Bang. Or we could detect gravitational waves. There are ways we can put constraints on any theories of gravity, syphon off the best or most correct one. We're a long way off reconciling GR and QM, QG remains an exciting area of research . Q&A So its possible the effective theory/asymptotic theory could be string theory or ? theory when you get down to that level? No, because in their constructions they're so different. With AS and QG we're only wanting to find the Quantum theory of gravity that obey the laws of QM. But string theory is a proposed theory of everything. A theory that wants unify all the fundamental forces of nature into 1 framework. So very different in there structure. There may be similarity as far as their predictions are but I think that's as far as it goes. Could you clarify for me. You explained clearly how Einstein explained gravity is not a force , more a geometric effect but shortly after that you put up a slide showing EM force , weak force, strong force and the force of gravity. So it seems contradictory, the same appearing in a number of books that I've read. Where on one hand gravity is happily explained in terms of Einstein as an effect and then in the next breath described as a force? I think this is a case of just the names we use. I tried in this presentation not to use the term force of gravity . It is still referred to as a force. The other forces don't have any conceptual issues against using the term force allied to them. We think of these abstract things called fielde. If we put a charged object in an electric field, it will move in that field, because it feels a force. Applying that kind of argument to gravity , then you get conceptual issues. So it should be the 3 forces and the ST effect. But unfortunately, for convenience we refer to the force of gravity , we are so used to saying it. But I agree with you , we should not think of gravity as a force but curvature of ST. If gravity is due to ST curvature, due to the presence of matter, when you get down to subatomic particles, you're still dealing with matter as we know it. But go to the PS and its smaller than matter as we know it. So is it not surprising you get infinities at that scale? Its still a finite scale, just incredibly small. Does it not reach zero effect as soon as you take the last particle of matter out of it, and so below the scale of the last particle of matter? Take matter out of ST then no bending of ST. In the case of a singularity where we have an infinitely dense point , we do have matter but squeezed down to a small point. You can have energy there in ST but that just confuses the business. So if you imagine no matter, and so no bending of ST and you zoom in to the PS, and then why have I got a strong effect of gravity. In the case of the BH there is certainly mass there. Where we don't have such matter we can also probe the PS by reaching very high energies. So there is a relation between very small scales and very high energies. I can probe the PS in the sense that I can get to Planck energies by firing particles at one anothe rat really high speed. But I still have matter in my system even if its in the form of energy. The gravitational effect comes with that very high energy or at the really small scales. ??? In physics we have this relation between high energies and small scales. If I have a photon with really high energy then it can see a smaller distance scale. If i drive particles together with really high energy , and probe smaller distance scales. You showed a digram of where the sun was taken away , the effect on gravity would be felt on the Earth. If gravity works at the speed of light , that effect would be 8 minutes later? Yes. We would not feel the effect of gravity before that 8 minutes. Why is the PS relevant, why have we stopped there? The PS is where QG effects become noticeable from an experimentalist point of view. ??? It will be a theory of gravity , obeying the principles of special relativity but more than special relativity. Not a theory of everything that combines all the fundamental forces of nature. But purely wriing down Einstein's gravity and making it obey the laws of QM then yes. Just one way? Yes or maybe equivalents. It will be very mathematical, not nice to look at. What symetries are in the theory, what particles you have, how gravity acts and interacts. A priori there is an infinite number of ways of possibly writing down a theory. You have to be clever in the way you truncate, clever in the way you write down just a couple of terms in a theory. You don't want to be writing down an infinite number of terms. Ideally you want a short theory and then build on it. There are some such theories that seem to show the right properties to suggest there is hope in writing down a complete theory of QM according to this method of AS. In classical Einstein theory you can have 2 particles or 2 points continuously get closer and closer together. Isn't it with Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle that as you get closer and closer together , you get problems as you have to quantise the space? There will be properties of certain particles that forbid that happening anyway. If they have opposite charges, they will repel and only so close they can get. From the point of view of Heisenberg they would not be able to occupy the same space. I was thinking of the concept of space, not the particles themselves, the ST point, the idea that ST points that are continuously smooth , under QG that would have to be broken up and quantised? Thats the area that people in loop QG deal with, the quantisation of space, discretisation of ST, the granular-like structure. With regards to the big bang where the whole of ST is squeezed into an infinitesimally small point, I'm not sure how to reconcile those 2 pictures, because then every point in ST is compressesd to the very small singularity. I've heard of the string theory and the loop theory but I've not heard of your AS before.? The other two are theories of everything , trying to unify all the fundamental forces. Maybe thats why they get more press time. AS is only trying to find a theory of gravity that obeys laws of QM . Then we try the zooming in , does it break down, sensible or impossible situations. Its difficult to explain without showing you the maths and going through it line by line. We take a theory and see how it changes with distance scale. It could asymptote in a bad way , in an unsafe way, or it could asymptote to whhat we call a fixed point. The things that would tend to infinity , non-sensible predictions, stop tending to infinity, they asymptope to a safe point, a fixed point. That means our predictions remain finite. So your theory of gravity is not string or loop theory, it doesn't involve any of those at all? something else, but seems to work? Yes Is it a way of conjuring new theories or a way of testing existing theories? Its not considered to be a rival for string theory for example. Does your theory make testable predictions? Yes, otherwise it would be useless. (On the pool core board blackboard and chalk drawing) A space of possible theories, already very abstract. One point is a safe point. Pick a theory, zoom in using clever maths, goes of to infinity. Pick another theory , zoom in , and if lucky it will tend to a safe point and it will stop. That then means certain quantities that are in that theory will stop at a finite number. There is no infinities in that theory and hence I can make sensible predictions within that theory. Would that mean that a phenomena that you have at the Planck level , you're happy with ? It means I'd be able to explain the phenomena at the Planck level. Have you tried modelling it at the Planck level, rather than coming from the phenomenon that you are actually seing? I think you'd be there for ever if you kept writing theories , to explain something. Wheras you can write down a theory in this structure and test it with relative ease, and see if it remains sensible. Have you found any theories that ??? These theories can be incredibly complicated, incredibly long , you don't write down the most general theory possible, as it could have infinitely many terms , so no good. You cannot write it all down and impossible to fix all those terms to make measurements. So you write down a smaller theory . There are the Einstein-Hilbert Truncations which are a lot smaller , even though they don't include everything we need to describe QG perfectly. They do within their realm of validity, tend towards a fixed point. Therse is confidence in the AS community that a fixed safe point does exist for a full theory of QG , yet to be found though. So you know your endpoint and working backwards in a sense , working out what a theory is? Yes Is it like perterbation expansion. Is it like quantum theory in Feinman Diagrams you expand and have a perterbation expansion . Is that what you are doing when you say they don't blow up? No. With Feinman diagrams and perterbation theory, that assumes certain quantities that do blow up , assumes they are very small . Perterbation theory is expanding within a small perameter, but the AS approach is a non-perterbative approach , we don't care about having small perameters. Here they could be extremely large, as long as they are finite, we're fine. How do scientists test gravitational effects at the atomic scale? Small distances correspond to large energies so they can work out QG corrections by looking at massive objects and gravitational effects that are slightly different to Einstein theory. Where you need quantum effects to account for a slight difference i nthe observation and the prediction of Einstein gravity. So planets orbiting stars but its not been tested with particle accelaratorrs yet . I think there are proposals to find different ways that QG effects might be found . So there are gravitational effects around stars that cannot be accounted for by Einstein? Yes. Einstein's gravity will account for so much but there is slight descrepancies between the predictions that you make with Einstein theory and observation. These descrepancies are down to the fact reality is asking for a QG description to get the exact correlation. What sort of effects are these? like gravitational lensing? It won't be a gravitational lens effect , I don't remember. You were making a distinction between a theory of QG and a theory of everything. Saying not the same thing, I don't get that. What would a QG theory not attempt to explain? It would not seek to explain the other forces. But aren't they part of QM? QM describes how particles interact throughout the forces . Its a mathematical framework describing the interaction . As its fundamentally probalistic , an intrinsic property of the maths framework, the fact energy comes in quantised , discrete chunks, those ideas can be applied to gravity where we have a particle of gravity called a graviton should obey the laws of QM. But we don't necessarily have to talk about the other fundamental forces. I don't understand that because you say they are already incorporated into ??? QM explains the forces but the forces aren't built into the framework. Its used to describe the interaction of particles but those interactions and those forces exist independently of the QM mathematical framework. That just tells us how things should behave and will beghave , wheras the forces are the things acting in reality. I take the mathematical framework and principles of QM , the probalistic nature , quantised chunks . I don't have to talk about the forces between particles . Do you know if any work has been done to find what the mechanism is by which ST is distorted by matter/energy? General relativity is a geometric picture of St bending and warping. There are lots of tests and effects that it predicts, gravitational lensing by massive objects, the precession of the perihelion of Mercury, etc. Then you would say GR is correct and the fact it is built on this idea that gravity is the bending of ST then that geometric picture makes sense. Its as direct as it gets of testing a prediction to a theory. In essence then we have a very good description but its not really an explanation of what is actually happening. It tells us what happens but not the way it happens? Perhaps that is more of a philosophical question , you can describe physics based on the way you observe particles move, but I can't give you an intuitive idea of what an electron is becaus ethey don't behave according to our intuition. You can't truly imagine what the bending of ST is , the blanket anaology is not perfect. I guess you accept the math foundations and the ideas , a theory is based on , you predictions match and agrees with experiment. I'm trying to gauge what you are doing. So with Einstein's equation you have items on both sides, are you adding in more terms to make it a valid theory of gravity? Exactly. That's a good place to start. You start withEinstein because its a brilliant theory of gravity that works at low energies. Add on additional terms , write it in a slightly different form , add on additional terms , keep doing this until you get something that looks to be a good theory of QG. After all you want your QG theory in the low energy limits you want it to reduce to Einstein's gravity . I think people have done it in 2 dimensions but then you don't get teh same problems but there ar epeople doing it in different dimensions to help the problem. Are there any theories that can explain forces in terms of exchange of gravitons or in terms of ST curvature. Most quantum theories explain forces in terms of exchange of particles.? A QG description will be able to be interpreted in terms of gravitons indeed. When you talk of EM fields andall the others , space and time are just like parameters in the theory but when you are talking about gravity space and time is the theory. That is the bending , but before , talking of standard electro-dynamics you just put x and t in because they describe a field at a partucular space-time point. But when you talk of gravity, space and time are the things that are the field .? Thats exactly why they are so diferent , and why its so hard to reconcile them both. And the fact that gravity effects are very weak compared t the other fundamental forces. Explaining gravity in terms of gravitons, does that mean they can escape from BHs ? When I think of a graviton escaping from a BH by imagining a tiny ball , its just putting gravity on the same footing as the othe r particles, with thenother fundamental forces. If we are thinking of gravity as the bending of ST itself and we want to quantise ST , I don't even know if the question makes sense. Gravitons and on the same sort of basis as say photons? No , not on the same footing . A BH itself is ST , a region of ST and a graviton is the quantisation of the gravitational field . Are they virtual particles rathe rthan real? They're real in the sense they are quantisations of the gravitational field but I don't know what it means for them to escape a BH. They are intrinsically linked to the ST we are dealing with rather than being a separate entity which can travel freely . When you look at quantisation its always , to my mind, dealt with charged particles? All particles charged or uncharged can be quantised . They seem to be bipolar wheras gravity is unipolar? I think commonly the Electromagnetic force , electromagnetic field are talked about a lot. But there are lots of particles in nature , some have no charge, eg neutrinos . There are theoris that quantise neutrinos , mesons, bosons, the Higgs is neutrally charged with a field associated with it. You can observe quantised effects on these non-charged particles? In the same way you can observe uncharged particles that behave and observe the laws of QM, quantisations of their respective fields. So yes.

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