Author Archives: MarshalledThoughts

PubSci Online | Dr Brock Craft: Picture This – Why Data Visualisation Matters

On 30th April, PubSci is delighted to welcome Dr Brock Craft, our third speaker of the 2021 programme, for a talk titled Picture This – Why Data Visualisation Matters in which Brock explains how data visualisation can be powerful, beautiful, and a matter of life and death.

space-shuttle-challenger

On 28th Jan 1986 the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center. Could better data visualisation have prevented this disaster? (AP Photo/Bruce Weaver, File)

Talk Details

Data is all around us – now more than ever as we navigate a pandemic in daily charts, and we struggle urgently to weigh covid-19 fatalities against the lesser risk from vaccination. But data is more than tables of figures; how we present and visualise data can have literally life-or-death consequences for how we understand it, how we interpret it, and what patterns we discern in it.

Dr. Brock Craft is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington. He specialises in Information Visualisation, Human-Computer Interaction, Physical Computing, and Learning Design.

In this talk he will demonstrate why data visualisation matters to everybody, how there is genuine beauty to be found in data, and how a simple data visualisation could have prevented the Challenger Space Shuttle Disaster.

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brock-caft-hcdeDr Craft has spent much of his career finding innovative ways to represent data in appealing, accessible, or aesthetically pleasing ways. Associate Professor at the University of Washington since 2015, Brock was previously Lecturer in Physical Computing, at Goldsmiths, University of London and programme founder/Senior Tutor on the MA in Information Experience Design at Royal College of Art, London.

He has a Master’s in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) from DePaul University, Chicago, and a PhD in Data Visualisation from University College of London Interaction Centre (UCLIC)

In 2007 Brock helped form Tinker London, a design consultancy focused on creating products that bridge the digital and the physical worlds. As a partner at Tinker, Brock designed products and experiences for high-profile clients including Sony, Nokia, The Evening Standard and the BBC, often using data visualisation techniques to create appealing visual representations.

Bridging his industry work with teaching and learning, Brock served as a research fellow at the London Knowledge Lab, where he focused on Learning Design, tools for pedagogy design, technology-enhanced learning, and interactive learning objects. “I have been investigating how people interact with technology and working to make it better for my entire career.”

Brock is the author of Arduino Projects for Dummies (2013) and co-author of Raspberry Pi Projects for Dummies (2015), both published by John Wiley & Sons

He is also creator of the Brockenspiel – a musical instrument that turns bar codes and magnetic swipe cards into music played on tubular bells, as featured on the BBC.

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Florence Nightingale’s famous Rose (or “Wedge”) Diagram of the Causes of Mortality in the Army of the East”

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Viewing the talk: Virtual PubSci is hosted live online via Zoom. We also stream events live on our YouTube channel where they remain available for at least 28 days.

Like all our events, this talk is free to attend, but you will need to register with Eventbrite to access Zoom. We have included the option to donate a small amount when you register to help cover web hosting fees etc.

Ticket sales go live at noon on Saturday 10th April. You’ll receive a confirmation email; the Zoom link is emailed on the day of the talk and available in the eventbrite online event page at the event start time.

More details on the event registration page.


Important Note: We aim to make our events accessible to all. You don’t have to pay, and you don’t need to install Zoom – Zoom can be run in a browser and events are streamed on the PubSci YouTube channel. Anybody wishing to support PubSci in our science communication can choose to make a donation when registering with eventbrite or contribute to our PayPal money pool, which goes directly to keeping PubSci online.

Please check our Future Events page where you can also subscribe to our iCal feed and don’t forget to check out our downloadable PDF schedule, which includes confirmed speakers with dates TBC.

PubSci Online | Dr Erica McAlister – The Inside Out of Flies

On Friday 26th March we’re delighted to welcome back Dr Erica McAlister, senior curator of Diptera in the Department of Entomology at London’s Natural History Museum,  with The Inside Out of Flies

In this talk, Erica looks at the astonishing mechanics of fly anatomy, revealing the engineering embodied in each species of fly and discovering some of the fascinating implications flies hold for human technology, from hearing aids to biomimetics.

Along the way expect flies without wings, flies with rotating genitalia and tales of the terrible hairy fly as she uncovers science lessons in the form and function of the humble fly. This is a talk not to be missed.

• • •

Erica McAlister describes herself simply as somebody who “studies flies, talks flies, shows off about flies” – something of an understatement, perhaps,  for the country’s foremost communicator of fly science.

me-and-pig

Who you gonna call? Not a ghostbuster, but our speaker, Erica McAlister with a giant pooter and a pig.

A passionate communicator of her topic, Erica is especially keen on encouraging young people to enter the field and frequently give talks to schools. As senior curator of Diptera in the Department of Entomology at London’s Natural History Museum, Erica is renowned for her extensive knowledge of the subject and the enthusiasm and humour with which she presents it.

She is a regular guest on BBC Radio 4, appearing on The Natural History Programme, The Living World, Who’s the Pest?, The Museum of Curiosity , and Natural History Heroes in which she championed the entomologist George Verrall. On TV she has featured in The Museum of Life and Springwatch 2017.

In April 2019, Erica was Jim Al-Khalili’s guest on Radio 4’s The Life Scientific and in March 2021 Erica presented a week of lunchtime programmes on Radio 4 called Metamorphosis – How Insects Transformed Our World, currently available on iPlayer and BBC Sounds. Earlier this month, Erica gave the annual Verrall Lecture of the Royal Entomological Society, appropriately titled ‘A Fascination of Flies’.

Erica is the author of two acclaimed books published in association with the Natural History Museum: The Secret Life of Flies (2017) and The Inside Out of Flies (2020)

Colourful fly eyes

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Viewing the talk: Virtual PubSci is hosted live online via Zoom. We also stream events live on our YouTube channel where they remain available for at least 28 days.

Like all our events, this talk is free to attend, but you will need to register with Eventbrite to access Zoom. We have included the option to donate a small amount when you register to help cover web hosting fees etc.

Ticket sales go live at 12:05 on Friday 12th March. You’ll receive a confirmation email; the Zoom link is emailed on the day of the talk and available in the eventbrite online event page.

More details on the event registration page.


Important Note: We aim to make our events accessible to all. You don’t have to pay, and you don’t need to install Zoom – Zoom can be run in a browser and events are streamed on the PubSci YouTube channel. Anybody wishing to support PubSci in our science communication can choose to make a donation when registering with eventbrite or contribute to our PayPal money pool, which goes directly to keeping PubSci online.

Please check our Future Events page where you can also subscribe to our iCal feed.

Paolo Viscardi – Dismantling the ‘Dead Zoo’ | Friday 26th Feb 2021

On Friday 26th Feb we’re delighted to be kicking off a new season with an online talk by Paolo Viscardi, one of the founders of PubSci. Paolo, now based at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, will present Dismantling the Dead Zoo, streamed live on Zoom and YouTube.

Dead Zoo

Dublin’s Dead Zoo in June 2020 © Paolo Viscardi, National Museum of Ireland


In Dismantling the Dead Zoo, Paolo will talk about decanting the scientifically important natural history collections in Dublin’s delightfully named Dead Zoo during the coronavirus pandemic to allow building renovations to take place.

Safely moving large, historic museum specimens, such as whales, requires an understanding of biomechanics, engineering and even chemistry. It also requires a head for heights, a strong back, and very careful planning – especially in a 164 year old building where floor-loading is theelephant in the room’. And, in this case, there are actual elephants in the room.

Paolo will answer audience questions after the talk.

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Paolo in Dead Museum Crop 16x9

Paolo Viscardi

Paolo Viscardi is a Zoology Curator at the National Museum of Ireland and a trustee of the Natural Sciences Collections Association (NatSCA). His background is in biomechanics and he is particularly interested in bones. He is a keen science communicator and has worked as consultant and script editor on several TV documentaries. Paolo, now based in Dublin, is co-founder of PubSci.


Viewing the talk: Virtual PubSci is hosted live online via Zoom. We also stream events live on our YouTube channel where they remain available for at least 28 days.

Like all our events, this talk is free to attend, but you will need to register with Eventbrite to access Zoom. We have included the option to donate a small amount when you register to help cover web hosting fees etc.

Ticket sales go live at 1pm on Friday 12th February. You’ll receive a confirmation email; the Zoom link is emailed on the day of the talk.

More details on the event registration page.


Important Note: We aim to make our events accessible to all. You don’t have to pay, and you don’t need to install Zoom – Zoom can be run in a browser and events are streamed on the PubSci YouTube channel.

Please check our Future Events page where you can also subscribe to our iCal feed.

Whale skeleton

Preparing to dismantle the fin whale ©Paolo Viscardi, National Museum of Ireland

Announcing the Return of PubSCi

Apologies for the radio silence – it’s been a peculiar year – but PubSci is back!

Following the same format as our Virtual PubSci in June 2020, we are pleased to announced the return of PubSci as a regular, live, online event (until we can meet again in a real pub).

Friday is the new Wednesday

As we now have a PubSci in New Zealand (run by former London PubSci-er, Hannah), we have scheduled our first few online events for Friday evenings so our friends in the antipodes can join us on a Saturday morning. This might vary in the future, depending on speaker availability. Events will be hosted live on Zoom and streamed on the PubSci YouTube channel, where they will remain for at least 28 days.


We are delighted to begin our new season on Friday 26th February with our good friend Paolo Viscardi, co-founder of PubSci and Curator of Zoology at the National Museum of Ireland, on Dismantling the Dead Zoo.

We continue the zoological theme on Friday 26th March with PubSci favourite Dr Erica McAlister, Senior Keeper of Diptera (flies) at London’s Natural History Museum and author of nonfiction bestsellers, The Secret Life of Flies and The Inside Out of Flies.


Scheduled start time is 7pm. You’ll need to register in advance to watch the Zoom events (to prevent Zoom-bombing) but anybody can watch the YouTube streams. Full event details will be published shortly on all the usual channels, where you will also find instructions on how to attend.

Thank you for your patience. It’s good to be back.

Richard and all at PubSci

How to Join Virtual PubSci Tomorrow (With or without Zoom)

Logo Cropped

Our very first Virtual PubSci goes live at 7:30 pm on Weds 3rd June
and we’re delighted to welcome Dr Caspar Addyman, director of the InfantLab at Goldsmiths, University of London with the talk that was originally scheduled for 1 April: Life Lessons from Laughing Babies.

The Zoom meeting will be active from around 7pm so you’ll have plenty of time to make sure you’re up and running before the talk begins. Those who have registered on Eventbrite will be sent an email with the Zoom link details before 5:30pm. It’s a pain to have to do it like this, but since Zoombombing became a problem for online events – and friends have had their events horribly interrupted – we need to make sure that everybody who joins the Zoom meeting is bona fide. Hope you understand.

However, not everybody wants to use Zoom, even in a browser window, so we will also be streaming the event live on YouTube. I’ve set up a PubSci YouTube channel where anybody can view the event without having to register on Eventbrite or use Zoom.

Just go to our YouTube Channel from 7pm on Wednesday and look for the livestream under VIDEOS > LIVE STREAMS. AT the moment there is just a test stream which you can watch to make sure your speaker settings are correct. It also has some notes that might be useful. When the stream goes live (around 7:15pm) it should appear on the list but you might need to refresh the page to see it. We will have chat active on YouTube (though moderated) so you can submit questions in the break.

All times are BST (GMT+1)

Finally, in case you want to make a small donation towards our web and Zoom hosting costs or contribute towards PubSci’s support of the wonderful Metafact science fact-checking project, we now have a PayPal “Money Pool” where you can do that, administered by PubSci host Richard Marshall.

Hope to see you tomorrow.

Richard

Announcing Virtual PubSci, Weds 3rd June

On Wednesday 3rd June we’re excited to welcome Dr Caspar Addyman, director of the InfantLab at Goldsmiths, University of London as our first ever speaker for Virtual PubSci. Caspar will give the talk that was originally scheduled for 1 April: Life Lessons from Laughing Babies. The talk will be streamed on Zoom and other channels.

Laughing Baby

In this talk Dr Addyman will survey the reasons why babies have such a great time being babies and why understanding baby laughter is key to understanding ourselves.

Joining Instruction: Please register for the event in advance by following this link to Eventbrite (opens in new window). Registered attendees will be sent joining instructions before the event start time. This is to minimise the risk of “Zoom Bombing”. Caspar will take questions after the talk via chat or Zoom.

• • •

Caspar LargeCaspar Addyman is a lecturer in psychology and director of the InfantLab at Goldsmiths, University of London. His Baby Laughter project has surveyed families all over the world to find out just what causes all those little giggles and he is interested in how laughter helps babies bond and learn.

Caspar worked with Grammy winner Imogen Heap to create a song scientifically designed to make babies happy. He has a written a novel, Help Yourself, about a retired psychologist and a failed comedian and his popular science book, The Laughing Baby, published by Unbound in April 2020, is available from Amazon and all good book stores.

 

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Join us on Zoom/YouTube/Facebook Live this coming Wednesday 3rd June for our first ever Virtual PubSci. The links will be open from 7pm for a 7:30 start.

As usual the event is free, and it is free to register with Eventbrite. If you wish to support PubSci and help cover the costs of our monthly Zoom Pro hosting account you have the option to make a donation when registering.

To keep up to date with new events, please check our Future Events page where you can also subscribe to our iCal feed.


NB The events may be virtual but the science is real! Sadly we don’y know when we’ll be back in the Old King’s Head, but we send our best wishes to Craig and the team who have hosted us for so many years.

Feel free to get yourself a pint of  Doombar or a glass of Malbec before the talk, but please ignore the event location on the website. For the time being, PubSci is in your living room not in the pub! “DID ANYBODY ORDER FISH AND CHIPS?”

PubSci is postponed until further notice

Dear friends, apologies for the lack of earlier communication. It will, however, come as no surprise that all PubSci events are suspended for the time being.

Of course the implications of the current pandemic are more serious and far-reaching than the mere suspension of our events but we will miss our monthly gatherings in the Old King’s Head.

We hope to reschedule the planned April and May talks for a later date, but we will only restart when scientific, medical and government advice recommend that it is safe and sensible to do so.

As the lockdown and ban on social gatherings continue, we are looking into the possibility of hosting events online and will explore other ways to give you your monthly science fix through the internet.

Please watch out for announcements and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@pubsci) and on the PubSci Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/PubSci/).

In the meantime, all of us in the PubSci family wish you all the very best over the coming months.

Good health.

Richard and the London PubSci team.

Be Reasonable! (How to engage with anti-science conspiracies) – Michael Marshall

On Wednesday 4th March we’re excited to welcome Michael Marshall of the Good Thinking Society, to talk about anti-science beliefs and how to combat them.

NS fltearthers_jan_11_2020

Is it possible to have a rational conversation with people who believe in a flat earth? New Scientist recently asked the same question. Image © Josie Ford / New Scientist

• • •

Once considered harmless fringe beliefs, anti-Science and conspiracy thinking have reached the cultural and political mainstream thanks to YouTube and Twitter. Michael Marshall has spent over a decade conversing with proponents of pseudoscience to better understand their thinking, hosting them on his podcast and even attending a Flat Earth convention in the USA. Drawing on these experiences, Michael will share techniques for constructively engaging with people caught in pseudoscientific thinking, to help unweave conspiracy theories and connect with the people behind anti-science ideas. He also has some very funny stories.

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Michael Marshall (Image courtesy of Centre for Inquiry)

Michael Marshall is Project Director of the Good Thinking Society and Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast (all links opens in new page).

As the UK’s only full-time sceptical activist, Michael’s work has seen him organise international homeopathy protests, go undercover to expose psychics and quack medics, spend a weekend embedded in the flat earth movement and co-found the popular QED conference.

Michael has written for the Guardian, The Times, New Scientist, New Statesman and The Skeptic.

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Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start.

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As usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover speaker’s expenses. We aim to keep PubSci accessible for all, although it is unsuitable for under 18s as we meet in the upper room of  a pub.

Unfortunately there is no wheelchair access.

Please check our Future Events page where you can also subscribe to our iCal feed.

Professor Malcolm Fairbairn – The Search for Dark Matter

PubSci is back from the winter break…

On Wednesday 5th February we’re very excited to welcome Professor Malcolm Fairbairn of Kings College London.  He will be talking about what dark matter is, how we find it, and why it matters. 

universe-883419 Image courtesy of Getty ©

Dark matter cannot be directly observed but is understood to account for nearly 85% of the matter in the universe. It is passing unimpeded through each of us constantly and acts as a cosmic support for galaxies in the Universe, including the one we call home. Despite this we cannot see it or touch it. Malcolm Fairbairn is a leading figure in the search for dark matter, and we are delighted to start our 2020 season with this talk.

• • •

Prof Malcolm Fairburn Potrait

Prof Malcolm Fairbairn

Proffessor Fairbairn is a member of the Theoretical Particle Physics and Cosmology Research Group at KCL, working at the intersection of particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology to study dark matter and particle physics in the early Universe.

For much of the last decade he focused on dark matter, but Malcolm has also worked on dark energy, early universe cosmology and its relation to Higgs physics as well as applications of machine learning to astrophysics and particle physics.

Originally from Wigan, his career took him to live in four different countries. He left CERN to take up a permanent position at King’s College London in 2007.

In 2019 Malcolm was scientific advisor to the Science Museum’s season of exhibitions and events exploring the nature of dark matter.

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Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start.

As usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover speaker’s expenses. We aim to keep PubSci accessible for all, although it is unsuitable for under 18s as we meet in the upper room of  a pub. Unfortunately there is no wheelchair access.

Please check our Future Events page where you can also subscribe to our iCal feed.

Weds 4th December 2019 – PubSci’s End of Year Quiz: “Let Them Eat Cake Too!”

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Okay Einsteins (and Lovelaces), it’s time to dust off your brain cells, put down your mobile phones, put on your thinking caps and team up to play the Science In The Pub End of Year Pub Quiz.

It’s in a pub. It’s about science (sort of). And it’s a Quiz… like no other.

6:30 for 7pm, Weds 4th December 2019, upstairs at the Old King’s Head

Ours is a level-playing-field quiz for Pub Scientists and their friends.  There will be no pointless questions on celebrities or sport – but we do have questions that challenge the senses and aren’t in any quiz books.  Sometimes they’re weird, but at least we write them ourselves.

The drinking will be peer reviewed. The cake will be boozy. There will be cash prizes!

Come as a team or come alone and join a team on the night. It’s more about fun than prizes but there are cash prizes and spot prizes too!

Max 6 in a team. £3 per player.

6.30 pm for a 7pm start.

Bonus points may be awarded for Christmas jumpers