Category Archives: Events

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.

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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.

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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 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 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.

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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?”

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

Prof. Alison Leary – Maths, Football and Crowds: How data science helps keep us safe

Football is coming home on Wednesday 6th November when we’re delighted to welcome Professor Alison Leary, Chair of Healthcare & Workforce Modelling at London South Bank University to discuss how maths can improve crowd safety.

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Millwall FC crowd medical services team on match day

How can maths make watching football safer? Alison Leary is the match day lead for crowd medical services at Millwall FC and an expert in healthcare and mathematical modelling. In this talk about maths, crowd safety, and league football, Alison will discuss the vital issues of risk, safety planning and what it’s like to change the rules.

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Prof Alison Leary

About Our Speaker

Professor Alison Leary is Chair of Healthcare & Workforce Modelling at London South Bank University. Her research includes: complexity & healthcare; knowledge discovery through data mining (big data); stochastic methods & workforce modelling. She provides consultancy to the NHS, government and commercial organisations. 

Prof. Leary holds a PhD in Clinical Medicine. After ten years in biomedical science she qualified as a Registered Nurse, and in 2014, was named an inspirational woman in healthcare by Health Service Journal. 

Alison was made a Fellow of the Royal college of Nursing in 2015 and of the Queens Nursing Institute in 2016. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Authority, and Visiting Professor at Canterbury Christchurch University. She sits on multiple trustee boards and judging panels and writes regularly for the general, trade and academic press. In 2016 she was made  a Winston Churchill Fellow studying high reliability organisations such as NASA.

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.

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

Chris French – Weird Science: An Introduction to Anomalistic Psychology

On Wednesday 7th August we’re privileged to welcome Professor Chris French, Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. Chris will talk about the remarkable field of anomalistic psychology – the psychology of strange experiences and behaviours.

According to polls, over half the UK population believes in paranormal phenomena, and statistics suggest interest is increasing. Indeed, every ancient society we know of had some kind of supernatural belief system. But can belief in, and reported experience of, paranormal phenomena be explained in terms of psychological factors?

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Is the truth “out there” or is closer to home? Image courtesy of BBC

Professor Chris French heads the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths. In this talk Chris will introduce the sub-discipline of anomalistic psychology, the study of extraordinary phenomena of behaviour and experience, in an attempt to explain the weird and the paranormal in terms of known psychological and physical factors.

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Professor Chris French © Bill Robinson

Chris is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and a Patron of the British Humanist Association. He has published over 150 articles and chapters covering a wide range of topics. His main area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences. He frequently appears on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal claims.

 

Chris is deeply involved with Greenwich Skeptics in the Pub, which normally meets the same day as PubSci, so it’s a rare delight to welcome him to PubSci this month.

His most recent book , Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience,  will be on sale after the talk.

Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover speaker’s expenses.

Not all in your head – What if a simple skin test could diagnose depression?

On Wednesday 3rd July we’re very excited to welcome Dr Parry Hashemi, Senior Lecturer in Bioengineering at Imperial College, London. Dr Hashemi will be speaking about her work towards developing a physiological test for clinical depression.

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Serotonin is a type of neurotransmitter, sometimes called “happiness molecules” (Image: Shutterstock)

Serotonin is the primary target of antidepressants, yet they only work for 30% of patients. And, since we don’t fully understand the roles serotonin plays in depression, antidepressants have barely improved in 5 decades. The prevailing theory is that low levels of serotonin in the brain indicate clinical depression but we’ve not been able to measure it – until now.

Dr Parry Hashemi has worked with the serotonin molecule for 15 years, developing exquisitely sensitive techniques to measure serotonin levels in vivo and in real time while also studying conditions that suppress serotonin levels such as neuro-inflammation.

Now Dr Hashemi’s work has led to a groundbreaking proposition: that our physiological response to depressive triggers is written into our DNA, and by knowing where to look, a skin sample can be developed to objectively diagnose depression, finally removing the social stigma of this all-too common condition. Maybe it isn’t just in your head after all.

 

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Dr Parry Hashemi. Image courtesy of Hashemilab.com

Parry Hashemi is an award-winning scientist working at the nexus of analytical chemistry, bioengineering and neuroscience. After 12 years establishing a highly regarded research lab in the USA (www.hashemilab.com) she recently accepted the role of Senior Lecturer in Bioengineering at Imperial college, London, where she completed her PhD in 2007.

Dr Hashemi remains an Associate Professor with the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of South Carolina, and continues the work of HashemiLab in the UK.

Parry has not only been recognised for her scientific achievements, she is a powerful advocate of women in STEM subjects and received the UNC Women’s Advancement Award in 2010.

Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover speaker’s expenses.

Science on the High Seas – What Lurks Beneath?

On Wednesday 5th June we’re very pleased to welcome back to PubSci James Maclaine, senior keeper of fish at the Natural History Museum, London, who recently returned from a research expedition around two of the remotest inhabited islands on Earth.

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Black Seadevil (Melanocetus johnsonii) – a juvenile female. Photo: James Maclaine (via Twitter)

Earlier this year, Discovery Expedition 100 carried out marine surveys of the ocean around Tristan de Cunha and St Helena in the South Atlantic. NHM curator James Maclaine was on board RRS Discovery to sort and identify the fish specimens collected as part of the UK government’s Blue Belt conservation program. James spent more than 40 days at sea, journeying over 5000 miles between Port Stanley in the Falklands and Walvis Bay in Namibia.  At June’s PubSci James will be talking about his experiences on the expedition and showing some of the amazing things he saw along the way.

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RSS Discovery – James’ home for 40 days during the expedition. Photo: James Maclaine (via Twitter)

Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover speaker’s expenses.

James Maclaine with Great White Shark jaws, via Wildlife Photographer of the Year on Twitter

James Maclaine with Great White Shark jaws, via Wildlife Photographer of the Year on Twitter