Dr Ruth Siddall – Pigments of our imagination

On Wednesday 5th October we’re delighted to have Dr Ruth Siddall of UCL talking about the colourful topic of pigments.

Ruth is a co-author of The Pigment Compendium and works on the characterisation, synthesis and history of use of pigments, particularly in Roman period painting.

Photomicrograph of the pigment Indian Yellow in cross-polarised light

Photomicrograph of the pigment Indian Yellow in cross-polarised light

Pigments are the materials which give colour to paints. We’ve all heard about yellow ochre and ultramarine, but there are many weird and, to be honest, totally unacceptable materials used out there for pigments. Artists and painters have been incredibly resourceful in finding and creating new colours over the last 40,000 years of experimentation, and new pigments such as Vanta Black and YinMin Blue are still being introduced today. Pigments can be derived from minerals and also dyes extracted from plants and animals, but a number of more unexpected sources of pigments have been used. If it’s coloured, someone has painted with it.

This talk will explore the analytical techniques used to identify pigments in paintings and the stories behind paints such as Indian Yellow, Emerald Green, Turacine and Mummy Brown.

Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs – we hope to see you there!

Dr Steven Le Comber – Maths, murder and malaria

On Wednesday 7th September we’re delighted to welcome Dr Steven Le Comber from Queen Mary, University of London. Steve’s research covers a wide range of subjects within evolutionary biology, including mathematical and computer models of molecular evolution.

Much of this work focuses on the mathematics of spatial patterns, and in his talk he will explain how he has pioneered the introduction of geographic profiling – a statistical technique originally developed in criminology to prioritise the investigation of serial murders – to biology, for example, trying to find the breeding sites for mosquitoes that spread malaria.

SteveLeComber

In a talk spanning mathematics, Jack the Ripper, great white sharks and the Gestapo, Steve will explain how he used geographic profiling to investigate the identity of the artist Banksy and how he reanalysed a Gestapo case from the 1940s that formed the basis of a famous novel.

Join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs – we hope to see you there!

Dr Helen Mayfield – can artificial intelligence save the rainforest?

On Wednesday 3rd August we’re pleased to welcome Dr Helen Mayfield, who has a PhD in mapping science and comes from an IT background, with an active interest in conservation and environmental issues. Her broad research interests are in how computer science and technological advances can help us solve or better understand environmental problems.

Helen Mayfield

We are entering the Anthropocene, a new geological age characterised by mass extinctions and unprecedented pressures on our natural resources.  At the same time technology is progressing at full speed, providing us with a whole new set of tools to help us navigate this brave new world. Yet many environmental management practitioners still rely on the tried and trusted methods that they’re comfortable with.

Helen’s work looks at how we can use machine learning to help us solve environmental management problems. We aim to shed some light on artificial intelligence and demystify a few of the common machine learning techniques, discussing  how they might serve us better than the standard statistical models that are so commonly used (no formulas, promise!). To keep the balance we will also look at some of the pitfalls of techniques such as artificial neural networks to help us consider when NOT to use them.  Being both one of the biggest environmental threats we face, as well as a terribly complicated issue, deforestation analysis provides the perfect case study for doing this.  By taking advantage of the plethora of free datasets that are becoming increasingly available (just look at Google Earth!) we can test out some of these methods to see whether computers can indeed help save the rainforest.

Join us upstairs at theOld King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs – we hope to see you there!

 

Dave Hone – Tyrannosaurs: Fact vs Fiction

On Wednesday 6th July we’re pleased to welcome back palaeontologist, lecturer and writer Dr David Hone, who will be sifting the facts from the fiction about everyone’s favourite dinosaur – Tyrannosaurus.

Dave1

Dave with Tyrannosaurus in Tokyo

Dave is a lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, writer for the Guardian and author of the recently published Tyrannosaur ChroniclesHe’s worked on dinosaurs and pterosaurs all over the world and is a great proponent of scientists engaging the public with their work – especially when it comes to how we know what we we know and how that changes with new evidence.

So unleash that 7 year old inside and revel in the terrified joy that only a gigantic, prehistoric, meat-eating monster can bring and join us upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start and as usual the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs – we hope to see you there!

Katrina van Grouw – A Very Fine Swan Indeed: Art, Science & The Unfeathered Bird

On Wednesday 1st June we’re very pleased to have Katrina van Grouw speaking at PubSci.

KvG-Katrina van Grouw low res

Katrina inhabits that no-man’s land, slap bang between art and science. A graduate of the Royal College of Art, her formal education was in Printmaking and Natural History Illustration, but she’s also a dedicated ornithologist, a former Natural History Museum curator, a qualified bird ringer, and an experienced preparator of natural history specimens.

KvG-book cover

The book, The Unfeathered Bird, is a magnum opus twenty five years in the
making, and was originally intended as a manual for bird artists. It was only much later that it blossomed into something far more ambitious. A world away from textbooks and diagrams, this is a work equally intended for scientists and artists, indeed anyone with an appreciation of birds or an interest in their adaptations and behaviour. It includes no fewer than 385 illustrations of 200 species, all made from actual specimens, many of which are shown in lifelike positions. Virtually all the complete skeletons were prepared and reconstructed at home from specimens donated from zoos, wildlife hospitals and conservation charities.

KvG-budgie skeletonKvG-great hornbill skeleton small

Join Katrina as she explains her aims and inspirations, shares her insights about birds beneath their feathers, and relates how her home was turned upside down as more and more specimens joined the queue.

Doors open at 6pm for a 7pm start upstairs at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. As usual, the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs – we hope to see you there!

Dr Henry Nicholls – From Narcolepsy to Insomnia

At PubSci on Wednesday 4th May (aka Star Wars Day) we’re delighted to welcome journalist, author and full-time narcoleptic Henry Nicholls, who will reveal what it’s like to live with narcolepsy, a rare and much misunderstood neurological disorder.

Most people who’ve heard of it know it’s a sleep disorder that involves pathological levels of sleep. What few people realise is that its onset is triggered by the flu (or similar infection) and that it often involves a host of other fabulous symptoms, including collapsing fits during moments of high emotion, sleep paralysis, terrifying hallucinations and – paradoxically – insomnia. On account of the amphetamines that Henry takes, he is unlikely to doze off during the talk, but video clips of fainting dogs and excerpts from his forthcoming book will pave the way for a lively discussion of the true value of sleep.

henrynew

Henry Nicholls

Henry is a science journalist, author, broadcaster and narcoleptic. He is the author of three books: Lonesome George, The Way of the Panda and The Galapagos. His latest literary adventure, provisionally entitled “ZZZ” and due to be published next year, will examine the funny, puzzling, troubling lives of those with pathological patterns of sleep.

Join us from 6pm for a 7pm start at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. As usual, the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs – we hope to see you there!

Kate Viscardi – Standards? Bakers’ Dozens & Country Miles

On Wednesday 6th April we’re happy to have Kate Viscardi, a Senior Lecturer in Engineering at London South Bank University, speaking at PubSci.

Kate will take us on a lightning tour of the subject of Standards and argue that rather than being boring bog standard stuff (or should that be BoG Standard?), Standards are crucial in shaping the world we live in now and played the major role in enabling civilisation to develop in the first place.

Clock on the Exchange, Bristol. Note the extra minute hand that denotes

Clock on the Exchange, Bristol. Note the extra minute hand that denotes “Bristol Time”. Image by Rod Ward, 2007.

Join us from 6pm for a 7pm start at the Old King’s Head, near London Bridge station. As usual, the event is free, but we will have a whip-round to cover costs – we hope to see you there!