From predictions of sin, fire and brimstone in ancient stories, to asteroids, viruses and climate change in films today, the human race has long speculated – and dramatized – about how it will all end.
Yet no matter how creative our stories are, science, Alok Jha will tell us, offers us even weirder possibilities.
Some of them are cosmic in origin, such as a monstrously large magnetic storm from the Sun; or from the Earth itself, such as a catastrophic volcano or a reversal of our magnetic field. Others are due to the human race’s own advancements: drugs, terrorism, cyborgs – or even some of these combined, such as a solar storm affecting our communications and electrical technology. Or, if we’re really unlucky, we might wander too near a black hole or a (so far) hypothetical particle called the strangelet, which is able to turn all particles it encounters into a copy of itself – and could do this to everything on the Earth over a matter of hours.
Is this anything to worry about? Alok Jha has spoken to various people who think it might be. 99% of species that have ever lived on Earth are now extinct – and the Sun itself will become a red giant one day. “Humanity as a whole does not invest much in improving its thinking on how to enhance its own survival,” he reports. Come and hear how, if we can’t put off The End, it might at least be a lot more interesting than we thought.
You will be able to buy a copy of Alok’s new book and he has kindly agreed to sign them – an oportunity not to be missed! there will also be a chance to win a signed copy in a raffle
Tonight is the night of Ben Harwidges talk on the “sharks don’t get cancer” myth, it’s the first of a stella line up of talks which will hopefully inform and dispel in equal measure. Worried how the world might end in 2012? Alok Jha will take us through what the real doomsday scenarios are, and as I understand it none involve Justin Beiber (yet). If that doesn’t help you sleep at night, im sure Deborah Hyde’s talk on Demon and Nightmares will rock you calmly off to sleep with out having to check under the bed first.
Its going to be a fun few months, I hope to see you there!
Our new CineSci6 season of films at the Clapham Picture House starts with arguably the mother of all sci-fi films, Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent epic Metropolis.
The film’s visually spectacular depiction of a futuristic city as a dystopian nightmare created the blueprint for almost every sci-fi movie skyline, from Blade Runner to The Fifth Element, its imagery has influenced popular musicians from Pink Floyd to Madonna. It is said that Metropolis was Adolf Hitler’s favourite film, its political message interpreted by the Nazi party to be in support of their ideas.
Metropolis tells the tale of a fantastical mega-city with Art Deco skyscrapers, elevated train tracks and wealthy, carefree residents, built on the toil of an army of underground, oppressed workers, and a robot created by a mad scientist to destroy it by spreading discord among the workforce. Taking two years to shoot and bankrupting its producers (with a budget of $200m in today’s money), the film deals with issues of class and labour that still persist to this day.
We’ll be showing the restored, full-length “director’s version” of the movie, and we’re especially delighted that after the screening the novelist and science writer Simon Ings will discuss some of the main themes explored in Metropolis, such as the pull between utopia and dystopia, and the ideas from industrial psychology that informed the discussions of the time. So, come and enjoy a classic vision of the urban future in one of the most iconic films of all time.
On Tuesday 6th September Upstairs at the Brixton Ritzy starting at 7:30pm (although you can come earlier if you like) our Designated Scientist Alice Sheppard of Galaxy Zoo will give you a glimpse into the world of Astronomy and Citizen Science over a pint of something nice.
Astronomy has been the subject of wonder and speculation for as long as historical records exist (and probably for longer than that). As with all science, people got some things right and – even with the best methods available – some things wrong.
Since 2007 Alice Sheppard has run the Galaxy Zoo Forum, the discussion area for an online astronomy project with 300,000 members worldwide. Galaxy Zoo has so far produced 21 papers, whose authors and acknowledged contributors include several ‘ordinary’ citizens. Some of the findings were a direct result of questions or collections of objects created by users, who became “Citizen Scientists”.
Alice takes us through some of the best and worst of astronomical history and what ancient and modern mistakes have been made. We will hear about the questions people have brought to Galaxy Zoo, the ways in which biases have been found and dealt with by the scientists and participants, the beautiful and inspiring projects created by untrained people and the scientific thinking they have learned to apply for themselves.
We also take a look at citizen science in general, how Galaxy Zoo has taught large numbers of people to understand and use science and we will explore what this might mean for engaging the wider public.
By day Alice is an office superviser at a charity for disabled people; by night she writes about science and astronomy
After the talk you will get the chance (or be forcibly coerced) to be involved in a live experiment.
A chance to discuss the most recent issues in science, if you have something to get off your chest about science, now is the time to do it.
We didn’t know what to expect, or the turnout we would get, but on the night the very first Pubsci at the Upstairs at the Ritzy was a huge success, thanks largely to the excellent stewardship of our first host and designated scientist Jenny Rohn and of course the participation of those who attended.
We felt the format of short talk with audience feedback followed by a live experiment worked well and will form the template for future hosts to follow. Jenny is hard at work crunching the numbers for her analysis of the experiment – but until then enjoy some photos of the night.
If you are anything like us you’re interested in science and you’ll probably enjoy a sociable drink in a nice venue, with interesting people.
It’s a simple premise, so we’ve decided to run with it by hosting a free event at the Brixton Ritzy starting 3rd May at 8pm.
The idea is to offer an opportunity for the rich scientific activity going on in London to have an informal forum, without the broader agendas that are usually associated with Skeptics in the Pub and with a slightly less general public focus than Cafe Scientifique.
Don’t get us wrong, the public are very welcome, but the idea is to create a venue where you can get your geek on without fear of excluding the audience – so any non-scientists in attendance will mostly be science geeks wanting to find out what’s happening in science straight from the source.
Format for the evening
For our first event we have the author and cell biologist Jenny Rohn who has stepped up to the task of kick-starting PubSci. Plans include an experiment involving alcohol and Jenny will introduce a topic to get conversation started.
We may also try an open mic format for some of the evening, so if you have something you want to talk about, or ideas you want to bounce off other scientists, you’ll be in the right place.
We’ll be using the Twitter hashtag #PubSci and we’ll update this blog to keep everyone informed about what’s going on as plans become firmer. Remember to spread the word and come along – this is new and you have the opportunity to shape it and make it work. If all goes well we will keep it as a regular fixture.