Tag Archives: Science in Society

Jack Ashby: The unnatural nature of natural history museums

On Wednesday 2nd May we’re excited to welcome author and zoologist Jack Ashby to PubSci, where he will be talking about the unnatural nature of natural history museums.

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Natural history museums are magical places. They inspire awe and wonder in the natural world and help us understand our place within the animal kingdom. Behind the scenes, many of them are also undertaking world-changing science with their collections. Their specimens help us explore incredible evolutionary stories.

But they are places for people, made by people. We might like to consider them logical places, centred on facts, but they can’t tell all the facts – there isn’t room. Similarly, they can’t show all the animals. And there are reasons behind what goes on display and what gets left in the storeroom.

The biases that can be detected in how people talk about animals, particularly in museums, is one of the themes of Jack Ashby’s new book, Animal Kingdom: A Natural History in 100 Objects. Museums are a product of their own history, and that of the societies they are embedded in. They are not apolitical, and they are not entirely scientific. As such, they don’t really represent reality.

Animal Kingdom cover hi res

Jack is the Manager of the Grant Museum of Zoology at University College London. He is a trustee of the Natural Sciences Collections Association and the Society for the History of Natural History, and regularly writes and comments about the roles of natural history museums in science and society. His main zoological interest is in Australian mammals.

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. Jack will also be signing and selling copies of his book if you want a copy (they’ll be going at £20). We hope to see you there!

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January PubSci: Pub Quiz

Science Pub Quiz

Happy New Year from PubSci! We will be starting 2013 with another sciencey pub quiz on Tuesday 15th January.

Darwin-pub-quiz

Doors of the Upstairs Bar of the Brixton Ritzy will open at 7:30pm for an 8pm start, so bring your brains and gather your team members (max of 5 per team) for a mixed bag of science, pseudoscience and sci-fi questions.

We will be asking for £2 per person to go into the prize pot, so be prepared and spread the word – the more people that come, the bigger the the prize!

November PubSci: Museums and Science

Why museum collections are vital to life on Earth

On Tuesday 20th November we will have museum curator and regular PubSci host Paolo Viscardi talking about museum collections and their value to science, society and species survival.

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Ada Lovelace PubSci Special

Celebrating Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths)

On Tuesday 16th October we will have a PubSci special celebrating women in STEM hosted by Dr Rebekah Higgitt.

Ada Lovelace Day is about sharing stories of women in STEM subjects who have been inspirational. Ada was born in 1815 and became a mathematician, writer and arguably the world’s first computer programmer over 100 years before the first electronic computer was invented. Talk about being ahead of her time!

We will celebrate by having a variety of women at different stages of their STEM careers talking about what they do, their experiences as a female in STEM and the female figures that have inspired them. Then the floor will open for the usual exchange of ideas and quaffing of appropriately alcoholic beverages until time is called at the bar.

Join us at the Brixton Ritzy Upstairs Bar from 18:45ish for food, drink and a chat, ready for an 19:30 start.

Oh yes, and as always entry is free!

March PubSci: 1000 Years of Cultural Amnesia

On Tuesday 6th March at 7:30pm Upstairs at the Brixton Ritzy we will be exploring science in the context of Arabic with Dr Anne-Maria Brennan.

Anne-Maria is a Principal Lecturer in Bioscience and Forensic Biology at London South Bank University. One of her many activities (besides music and co-writing the definitive entry textbook on Ecology) has been to organise, chair and present at conferences for the British Science Association on the Muslim contribution to science.

Islamic heritage in the sciences is a fascinating area that has sometimes been the subject of a form of cultural amnesia – why not join us to find out more about the causes, consequences and cures?

November PubSci – FIRE!

Fire Science

At 7:30pm on Tuesday 1st November 2011 (just a few days before Bonfire Night), we will be exploring the science of FIRE with Fire & Explosion scientist Claire Benson ‘Burner’.

FIRE

This is your chance to find out about how and why forensic scientists undertake fire investigation, with details about everything from charring to explosive combustion.

Here’s a taster:

All of this excitement is free and can be had over a pint of beer, or perhaps some flaming sambucas if you really want to get into the mood.

Usual venue upstairs at the Brixton Rizty – hope to see you there!

(N.B. This video contains some of the greatest dance moves ever seen)