Category Archives: Popular Science

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.


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

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?


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.


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.


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.


Parry Laughing

Dr Parry Hashemi. Image courtesy of

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 ( 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.

Important: April PubSci Event Change

Please note that Michael Byford’s talk on Bacteriophages has been postponed until Weds 1st May due to unforeseen circumstances.

The PubSci team apologises for the late notice – however, we won’t leave you at a loose end this evening. Please come to the Old King’s Head as usual, 6:30pm on Weds 3rd April.

In Part 1 the team behind PubSci will present a series of short talks on our favourite scientific topics. After the break we discuss the question: “Does the media have a duty to accurately report on Science or Is Climate Change Denial protected by Freedom of Expression?”

See this recent case for the current context: