Skeptics in the Pub, Oxford

Thinking and drinking. That is the unlikely goal of our meeting. Each month we invite a speaker to talk about an area of belief and to invite critical debate. We encourage sceptical thought and we enjoy challenging discussions. We also welcome humour and we intend to have a good time.

The meetings are open to all, no matter what your prior beliefs. We ask that you come along with a willingness to be challenged in your beliefs and we provide an opportuity for you to challenge others - and to enjoy a drink or two.

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Our next topic is...

Sarah Kendrew

When?
Wednesday, October 1 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Sarah Kendrew

What's the talk about?

The James Webb Space Telescope, a collaboration between space agencies in the US, Europe and Canada, will succeed the Hubble Space Telescope as the foremost space telescope in 2018. Its unprecedented size, sensitivity and suite of instruments will revolutionise our view on the Universe, from showing us how the very first galaxies formed to revealing the atmospheres of planets outside our own solar system, where life may be forming. Sarah Kendrew will give an overview of the mission and the exciting science it will do after launch. She'll talk about where the mission is right now, from her personal involvement in one of JWST's 4 instruments, MIRI.

Sarah Kendrew is an astronomer at the University of Oxford. She works on optical and infrared instrumentation for the observatories of the future, and researches how stars form in the Milky Way Galaxy. Website: http://skendrew.github.io/ Twitter: @sarahkendrew

Hosted by Science Oxford, British Science Association Oxfordshire Branch and Oxford Skeptics in the Pub

Fran Day, Professor Sunetra Gupta, Dr. Alison Woollard, Professor Suzanne Aigrain, Sally Le Page, Laura Kimpton, Dr. Sylvia McLain

When?
Tuesday, October 14 2014 at 6:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Fran Day, Professor Sunetra Gupta, Dr. Alison Woollard, Professor Suzanne Aigrain, Sally Le Page, Laura Kimpton, Dr. Sylvia McLain

What's the talk about?

Join us for an evening celebrating the vital role that women have played in scientific discovery over the past two hundred years. This event is free, but please email live@scienceoxford.com to guarantee your seat.

Ada Lovelace Night commemorates the ground-breaking mathematician and writer who was known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. Because of this, Ada is often described as the world’s first computer programmer.

The evening will feature talks by six inspirational female scientists and is hosted by particle physicist and science comedian Fran Day.

Ada Lovelace Night is an event organised in collaboration with Science Oxford, British Science Association Oxfordshire Branch and Oxford Skeptics in the Pub to highlight the importance of women such as Ada in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Join us at 6.30pm for a 7pm start and prepare for a night of scientific intrigue and plenty of laughs with Oxford’s top female scientists. This event is free but due to popularity of the event please email live@scienceoxford.com to guarantee your seat.

Our inspirational speakers

Kicking us off is Professor Sunetra Gupta, Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at Oxford University. Professor Gupta uses mathematical models to study the population structure of pathogens, with particular reference to the infectious diseases. She has been awarded the Scientific Medal by the Zoological Society of London and the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award for her scientific research. She is also an award winning novelist.

Dr. Alison Woollard is a lecturer in genetics at Oxford University. With particular interest in nematode worms, Dr. Woollard’s research is on the genetic similarities between all organisms. She finds the worms a source of constant fascination. It represents the “perfect compromise” between simplicity and complexity, as well as having a “striking genetic similarity” to other organisms – like humans. Dr. Wollard presented the RI Christmas lecture in 2013.

Professor Suzanne Aigrain is an astrophysicist at Oxford University. Professor Aigrain works on the detection and characterisation of extrasolar planets (planets outside the solar system) with particular interest in locating small Earth-like planets and finding out how they formed.

Sally Le Page researches sexual selection, kin selection and other cool bits of evolutionary theory. She also makes Shed Science, a series of YouTube videos about the really fascinating bits of biology ranging from genetics to behaviour. Sally recently won a national short film competition run by the Guardian and OUP with her one minute video on evolution.

Laura Kimpton works at the Mathematical Institute researching mathematical mechanical modelling especially for biological applications. Laura is also a member of Marcus’ Marvellous Mathemagicians and leads a number of Maths in the City walking tours around Oxford and London.

Dr. Sylvia McLain is interested in understanding how biological processes occur in nature by looking at the atomic structure of peptides, lipids and membranes. She leads a biophysics group at the Department of Biochemistry, Oxford University by day and blogs by night. She also writes about science, science policy and philosophy of science for The Guardian.

When?
Wednesday, October 22 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

6/9 Hythe Bridge Street
Oxford
OX1 2EW

Who?

What's the talk about?

Come and meet up at SoJo Chinese restaurant (http://www.sojooxford.co.uk/) for our first social from 7.30PM on Wednesday 22nd October 2014. Everyone is welcome, regardless of whether you've been to one of our events before, but please let us know if you're coming so that we can book a table by emailing abrasiveshrub@gmail.com. Come along and say hello!

Join the facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/555993957838039/

Alice Bell

When?
Wednesday, November 5 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Alice Bell

What's the talk about?

This is tale of a scientific revolution that failed. Most scientific revolutions are about politics in some way, not just the nature scientists look at, but this was especially political in scope. Science, these revolutionaries argued, had lost its way. Science had become too focused to the whims of senior staff and their cronies, allowing its energies to be applied to war and environmental destruction. If the public didn’t like science, so the argument went, maybe they had a point. In the shadow of the still-blazing light of the atomic bomb, with increasing concern over chemical and biological weapons as well as an emerging environmental crisis, science needed to take a good, hard look at itself. Elitist and stuffy, science had let itself fester a bit. The time had come to imagine a new way of doing science. They were the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science, BSSRS, or Bizrus to their friends. Active and reasonably well-known throughout the 1970s, they fell apart in the 1980s and are largely forgotten today. This is their story.

Alice Bell is a freelance journalist, specialising in the politics of science and technology. She writes about innovation for How We Get to Next and climate change for the Road to Paris. She's a science policy blogger for the Guardian and columnist for Popular Science UK. She used to be an academic, teaching science communication at Imperial College. Before that she set fire to bubbles for the Science Museum for a living.

Twitter: @alicebell

Dr Tim Miles

When?
Wednesday, April 1 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Dr Tim Miles

What's the talk about?

The children's Author EB White once quipped: 'Analysing humour is like dissecting a live frog. No one is interested and the frog dies.' Studying comedy, at university level, has encouraged a number of criticisms, but two have dominated: that it is too frivolous when more 'serious' matters need to be investigated; and it is somehow beyond investigation because some people are just funny - they have 'funny bones' - and cannot, therefore, be studied or taught. Instead, comedy is seen as something that should be extra-curricular, like the footlights at Cambridge, and not part of serious academic work. To suggest otherwise leads to accusations of 'dumbing down', wasting public money, and 'soft' subjects on the curriculum.

In this talk I want to suggest that studying comedy offers us fascinating insights and important possibilities. The talk will seamlessly (hopefully) explore a path through evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, health care, pedagogy, cultural anthology, the performing arts, and other academic fields, looking at the work of comedy and humour scholars. Specifically, the areas discussed will include: the benefits of tickling rats to neuroscience; whether computers can tell jokes (or understand them); why stand-up comedy saved Dave Pitt's life (and who Dave Pitt is); and why you can get away with making very close-to-the-knuckle jokes in Japan but only under very specific circumstances. The talk will also briefly look at stand-up comedy, and my own doctoral research in which I argued that laughter rarely has much to do with anything being objectively funny, but is more connected to human relationships. Finally, I shall examine Bright Club, the comedy club where academics present research as comedy, and argue that all academics - however reluctant they may be - should be encouraged to perform stand-up comedy.

Biography: Tim Miles wrote jokes for BBC radio as an undergraduate, subsequently running his own comedy club booking the then unknown Al Murray and Graham Norton. Having taught in Higher Education for ten years he was awarded a PhD by the University of Surrey in 2014, his doctoral research examining ways of analysing live stand-up comedy. He has been a member of the editorial board of Comedy Studies since 2010, and is currently their Reviews Editor. He has published on a number of areas relating to comedy, including: comic responses to the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland; humour and the erotic; and emotion in stand-up comedy. In 2015 his book Reading between the Punch-Lines; a Guide to Analysing Stand-up Comedy will be published. In 2015 he will also be editing an edition of Comedy Studies devoted to Japanese comedy. He occasionally performs stand-up at various Bright Clubs, winning the 'worst pun' award in 2013 for a joke about Nietzsche, which he promises not to tell during this talk.