café scientifique


Next meeting:
Monday 14th November 2016

Detection of Astrophysical Neutrinos at the South Pole
By Alan Watson


In 2013 one of the highlights of the astrophysical year was the detection of high-energy neutrinos that come from outside our atmosphere.  This discovery was made using an instrument called IceCube, which is a cubic kilometre of ice at the South Pole instrumented with photomultipliers.  In the talk I will first explain what a neutrino is (nearly a trillion pass through your hand every second!), describe the various ways in which they are created, and why it is interesting, in an astrophysical context, to search for them.  I will then describe the construction and operation of the remarkable detector at the South Pole and explain why detecting high-energy neutrinos is of interest in the context of searching for the origin of cosmic rays.


Alan Watson is an experimental physicist who has studied cosmic rays for over 50 years at field stations in the UK, Antarctica, Arizona and Argentina, with the goal of discovering the origin of the highest-energy particles.  At the South Pole, with an American group, his Leeds team built a detector to search for gamma-rays from SN1987a and worked with scientists from Wisconsin and California who were building the prototype of the IceCube detector.  In 1991, with Jim Cronin (University of Chicago), he conceived the idea of the Pierre Auger Observatory, a cosmic ray detector that covers 3000 km2 in Western Argentina and which has been operational since 2004.  With it, the best data on the highest-energy cosmic-rays have been obtained.  He began working at the University of Leeds in 1964 taking up research on cosmic rays.  He is an Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Leeds (since 2003), Emeritus Spokesperson of the Pierre Auger Observatory (since 2007) and a Fellow of the Royal Society (elected 2000).


Coming soon:

Monday 14th November 2016
“Neutrino Astronomy”
By Alan Watson

Monday 12th December 2016
“William Gascoigne – Leeds Astronomer at the Forefront of the Scientific Revolution”
By David Sellers

About Café Scientifique

Café Scientifique is a place where people can meet to hear eminent speakers on all things scientific. The events are extremely popular with lively discussion and informative talks. Topics are always relevant, cutting edge and up-to-date. They are often taken from a wider global discussion.

All are welcome. The Café is held at The New Headingley Club on St Michael’s Road.

For information on topics please check back here for updates or for more information see the e-newsletter or the HDT newsletter.

To be added to the Café Scientifique mailing list please contact: or fill out the online form opposite.



Monday 14th December 2015
“Our Technological Footprint on the Universe
–  in 63 steps”
By Dave Webb

Monday 11th January 2016
“Imaging Positrons Inside the Human Body”
By Charalampos Tsoumpas

Monday 8th February 2016
“From Dark Satanic Mills to DNA: the Scientific Heritage of Leeds and how it Changed the World”
By Kersten Hall

Monday 14th March 2016
“The Worst of Times:
How Life on Earth Survived Eighty Million Years of Extinctions”
By Paul Wignall

Monday 11th April 2016
“Monster Magnets: Stellar Birth Control”
By Sven Van Loo

Monday 9th May 2016
“Ask for Evidence”
By Danae Dodge

Monday 13th June 2016
“Herding Hemingway’s Cats: how do genes work?”
By Kate Arney

Monday 11th July 2016
“Climate Change & Rocky Coasts”
By Sue Hull

Monday 12th September 2016
“The Mobility Transformation”
By John Whitelegg

Monday 10th October 2016
“Growing Mini-Brains to Help Understand Cancer”
By Ryan Mathew


what's on

  • foi17

    Headingley Festival of Ideas

    October taster events for 2017 FestivalVisit page

  • café scientific

    Café Scientifique

    Mon 14th Nov - Detection of Astro-physical Neutrinos at the South PoleVisit page

  • farmers market

    Farmers Market

    Sat 12th NovemberVisit page

  • heart cafe


    Don't miss out on events, activities and room hire offers!Visit page

@HDTHeadingley on Twitter

additional info

7:30pm – 9:30pm

New Headingley Club
56 St Michael’s Road
Tel: 0113 2757712 (for info. on venue)

Entry £3

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required