On Tuesday 6th September Upstairs at the Brixton Ritzy starting at 7:30pm (although you can come earlier if you like) our Designated Scientist Alice Sheppard of Galaxy Zoo will give you a glimpse into the world of Astronomy and Citizen Science over a pint of something nice.
Astronomy has been the subject of wonder and speculation for as long as historical records exist (and probably for longer than that). As with all science, people got some things right and – even with the best methods available – some things wrong.
Since 2007 Alice Sheppard has run the Galaxy Zoo Forum, the discussion area for an online astronomy project with 300,000 members worldwide. Galaxy Zoo has so far produced 21 papers, whose authors and acknowledged contributors include several ‘ordinary’ citizens. Some of the findings were a direct result of questions or collections of objects created by users, who became “Citizen Scientists”.
Alice takes us through some of the best and worst of astronomical history and what ancient and modern mistakes have been made. We will hear about the questions people have brought to Galaxy Zoo, the ways in which biases have been found and dealt with by the scientists and participants, the beautiful and inspiring projects created by untrained people and the scientific thinking they have learned to apply for themselves.
We also take a look at citizen science in general, how Galaxy Zoo has taught large numbers of people to understand and use science and we will explore what this might mean for engaging the wider public.
By day Alice is an office superviser at a charity for disabled people; by night she writes about science and astronomy
After the talk you will get the chance (or be forcibly coerced) to be involved in a live experiment.
A chance to discuss the most recent issues in science, if you have something to get off your chest about science, now is the time to do it.
The June PubSci was a somewhat chaotic event as we tried an open-mic night. An edited podcast of the evening is available to hear at the Pod Delusion.
Our experiment for the evening was a simple reaction experiment that was meant to test the hypothesis that people’s reactions (measured by catching a ruler) would improve after one drink and then get progressively worse as they consumed more alcohol. Unfortunately the nature of the experiment made it difficult to keep track of exactly what was going on at times.
One factor that we failed to consider was the rate at which alcohol is metabolised (one unit per hour on average) so give the rate of alcohol consumption I’m not sure that many of our experimental subjects had actually increased their blood alcohol substantially over the course of the evening (sensible drinkers – who’d have thunk it?).
As a result, the averaged data from the evening looked like this (34 started the experiment of which 3 did not drink alcohol and 11 only had one drink, so were not included in the analysis, results are based on 20 drinkers – 9 female, 11 male) :
Not exactly unequivocal results, but at least they don’t contradict the experimental hypothesis.
Experiment aside, the open-mic format proved to be good fun and rather entertaining, but for July we plan to have a more structured evening hosted by our Designated Scientist Lizzie Crouch.
Lizzie is a self-confessed science geek who has spent 3 years working as a science researcher in factual television and is now studying Science Communication at Imperial College. She’s back from the Cheltenham Science Festival with a great booze-related experiment to get ideas (& the beers) flowing.
We’ll be starting at 7:30pm on Tuesday 5th July at the usual venue, Upstairs at the Ritzy. Come and join us for a free and informal evening of scientific thinking and peer-reviewed drinking.
The PubSci on 7th June 2011Upstairs at the Ritzy in Brixton will kick off with Jenny Rohn reporting back on the results of last month’s wine-related experiment, before we open the floor for our first open-mic session.
So if you have a science related bee in your bonnet that you want to set free, anecdotes from the lab or from life, or if you just want to share something you think is interesting – this will be the perfect opportunity.
Of course we will be conducting another experiment during the evening and there will be a friendly and informal atmosphere for those who just want to sit back and soak up the geekiness of it all.
The event will kick off at 7:30pm this week, but you are welcome to join us from 6:30pm if you fancy a bite to eat from the Ritzy’s tasty menu.
The first PubSci kicks off tomorrow, so here’s some information on how to get the Ritzy in Brixton – it really isn’t hard, despite being ‘across the water’ for some of you:
The Ritzy is a 3 minute walk from Brixton underground, which is on the Victoria line. Turn left out of the station and continue south down Brixton Road (crossing Electric Avenue) and the Ritzy will be in front of you when you hit the big junction. It’s that easy.
There is also a train station served by trains from Victoria, about a minute’s walk from the tube station. To walk from here you’ll need to go right when you leave the station, walk to the top of Atlantic Road, which you should cross and and then follow Brixton road south, past the tube station and crossing Electric Avenue. When you come to the big junction you’ll see the Ritzy.
If you do get lost, don’t panic – most people know where the Ritzy is and can point you in the right direction. Failing that, there will be several other science geeks heading the same way and many will have twitter, so just tweet using the hashtag #PubSci and ask for directions from a handy landmark (like a pub).
It really isn’t difficult to get to and from the venue, so hopefully we’ll see you tomorrow for a fun evening of science and socialising!
If you are anything like us you’re interested in science and you’ll probably enjoy a sociable drink in a nice venue, with interesting people.
It’s a simple premise, so we’ve decided to run with it by hosting a free event at the Brixton Ritzy starting 3rd May at 8pm.
The idea is to offer an opportunity for the rich scientific activity going on in London to have an informal forum, without the broader agendas that are usually associated with Skeptics in the Pub and with a slightly less general public focus than Cafe Scientifique.
Don’t get us wrong, the public are very welcome, but the idea is to create a venue where you can get your geek on without fear of excluding the audience – so any non-scientists in attendance will mostly be science geeks wanting to find out what’s happening in science straight from the source.
Format for the evening
For our first event we have the author and cell biologist Jenny Rohn who has stepped up to the task of kick-starting PubSci. Plans include an experiment involving alcohol and Jenny will introduce a topic to get conversation started.
We may also try an open mic format for some of the evening, so if you have something you want to talk about, or ideas you want to bounce off other scientists, you’ll be in the right place.
We’ll be using the Twitter hashtag #PubSci and we’ll update this blog to keep everyone informed about what’s going on as plans become firmer. Remember to spread the word and come along – this is new and you have the opportunity to shape it and make it work. If all goes well we will keep it as a regular fixture.