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Heat waves and hold-ups at the University of East Anglia

Tue, 27 Nov 2012

Children will be invited to explore the history of dangerous highwaymen and climate changing effects of carbon dioxide at two University of East Anglia Christmas lectures next month.

Environmental scientist Dr Nem Vaughan will begin the event on December 15 by exploring what happens to the 36 quadrillion grams of CO2 humans release into the atmosphere each year.

Through a dynamic and interactive presentation, the audience will discover how CO2 moves around the planet through the seas, sky and trees - and how it builds up in the atmosphere as the Earth gets warmer.

Dr Vaughn said: "Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a good thing - without it our planet would be a lot, lot cooler and it wouldn't be a pleasant place to live. However, you can have too much of a good thing!

"The whole audience will take part in discovering what happens to the CO2 once we have put it in the atmosphere, how it is soaked up by the land and sea. We will need some volunteers on the day to help explore how the CO2 builds up in the atmosphere, and the effect this has on the planet's temperature."

Dr Thomas Ruys Smith, from the university's School of American Studies, will then delve into the mysterious and often perilous world of highwaymen and gamblers.

Travelling in the past was often a dangerous activity - whether people were riding along the roads of 18th century England or journeying on the steamboats of 19th century America, their trips would often be disrupted by a highwayman or professional gambler who was after "your money or your life!"

He will introduce some of the most infamous highway bandits and Mississippi River gamblers, demonstrate the ingenious ruses they would use to part their victims from their money, and what steps the public took to avoid them.

Dr Smith said: "I think it's fascinating that two different groups of criminals who preyed on innocent travellers in the past still have a place in contemporary popular culture, and are often talked about in very romantic ways.

"In my talk I want to take a closer look at these perennial scoundrels. We'll try to separate fact from fiction and think about how and why these villains frequently became heroes in story and song."

The 'Heat waves and Hold-ups' lectures take place on Saturday, December 15, from 10am-12pm in Lecture Theatre 1, UEA.

The event is free, but by ticket only, and all children must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets are available by calling 01603 592130 or emailing