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Dr. David Robert Grimes

When?
Wednesday, January 14 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Dr. David Robert Grimes

What's the talk about?

Science and medicine have transformed our lives immeasurably, and never in history have they been more central to our lives and well-being. Yet despite this, there is often a glaring disconnect between the findings of actual science and media reporting of such topics, and consequently there is often a needless chasm between public perception and the evidence on many contentious topics. This can lead to needlessly adversarial and counter-productive discourse of everything from vaccination to climate-change. In this talk, physicist and science journalist Dr. David Robert Grimes discusses the frequent problems in reporting science from misunderstandings to bad statistics to false balance, and discusses the factors that influence this and how such problems can be remedied.

Dr. David Robert Grimes (@drg1985) is a physicist and writes regular opinion and analysis pieces on scientific issues for the Irish Times and the Guardian science, and is a regular panelist on science issues on radio and television. He is joint-recipient of the 2014 Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science.

From Quantum Field Theory to the Fourth Dimension: Why it's really easy to sound sciencey.

Matt Parker

When?
Thursday, November 27 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Matt Parker

What's the talk about?

In this talk, particles and forces are considered as fully interacting relativistic quantum matter and force fields, respectively. Matt Parker will be visualized graphically as spacetime Feynman diagrams. Further, these interacting field systems can have ground states with the occasional joke; the so-called Higgs field being responsible for this symmetry breaking. In this all-new show, the ability for pseudo-scientists and charlatans to sound like real scientists will be imagined as fully interacting quantum-like fields.

Matt Parker is mathematician, stand-up comedian and skeptic. Well known for his cutting-edge research into the alignment of Woolworths stores, he is now on the road with a brand-new Skeptics talk. Matt will also be signing copies of his completely unrelated book: Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension.

twitter.com/standupmaths

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 the 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

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/

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.

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

Dr Chris Peters

When?
Tuesday, September 2 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Dr Chris Peters

What's the talk about?

This isn’t just a simple talk; it’s a call to arms.

Every day, we hear claims about what is good for our health, bad for the environment, how to improve education, cut crime, and treat disease. Some are based on reliable evidence and scientific rigour. Many are not. These claims can't be regulated; every time one is debunked another pops up – like a game of whack-a-mole. So how can we make companies, politicians, commentators and official bodies accountable for the claims they make? If they want us to vote for them, believe them, or buy their products, then we should ask them for evidence, as consumers, patients, voters and citizens.

The Ask for Evidence campaign has seen people ask a retail chain for the evidence behind its MRSA resistant pyjamas; ask a juice bar for the evidence behind wheatgrass detox claims; ask the health department about rules for Viagra prescriptions; ask for the studies behind treatments for Crohn's disease, and hundreds more. As a result, claims are being withdrawn and bodies held to account.

This is geeks, working with the public, to park their tanks on the lawn of those who seek to influence us. And it's starting to work. Come and hear what the campaign is going to do next and how you can get involved.

The Ask for Evidence campaign can be found here.

Simon Clare

When?
Wednesday, July 2 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Simon Clare

What's the talk about?

The Alpha Course runs in 162 countries and has been attended, according to their website, by 25 Million people. Over a 9 week period, students are guided through Christian theology ostensibly to “Explore the meaning of Life”.

Simon Clare, an unabashed atheist, signed up to his local course in Brighton, wondering if his faithlessness would be challenged. Spoiler: He wasn’t converted but he was surprised at what he learnt about faith.

The new Archbishop Of Canterbury, Justin Welby, found his faith at the home of the Alpha Course and his election suggests that the Alpha model of spreading the word is now at the heart of Christianity's struggle for survival. As well as giving an overview of the course from biblical history to singing in tongues, Simon will discuss what atheists can learn from the Alpha Course.

Simon Clare runs Horsham Skeptics in the Pub and is a founder member of the South East Skeptics Society.

Professor Jon Butterworth

When?
Tuesday, June 3 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Professor Jon Butterworth

What's the talk about?

Please note that we're on Tuesday 3rd June this month. 

The discovery of the Higgs boson made headlines around the world. Two scientists, Peter Higgs and François Englert, whose theories predicted its existence, shared a Nobel Prize. The discovery was the culmination of the largest experiment ever run, the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. But what really is a Higgs boson and what does it do? How was it found? And what will the LHC do next? Jon Butterworth, a leading member of the ATLAS experiment, will talk about all this and more.

Jon Butterworth is also Head of the Department of Physics & Astronomy at UCL, and writes for the Guardian at http://www.theguardian.com/science/life-and-physics

Michael Marshall

When?
Thursday, May 8 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

Please note date change: this event will now take place on Thursday 8th May.

It’s easy to think of pseudoscience existing in a glass case at a museum – something to be examined and critiqued from a safe distance, but not something to touch and to play with. Using examples taken from his own personal experiences in skepticism, Michael Marshall will show what happens when you begin to crack the surface of the pseudosciences that surround us – revealing the surprising, sometimes-shocking and often-comic adventures that lie beneath.

Michael Marshall is the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society and Project Director of the Good Thinking Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work with the MSS has seen him organising international homeopathy protests and co-founding the popular QED conference. He has written for the Guardian, The Times and New Scientist.

Lloyd Chapman

When?
Wednesday, April 2 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Lloyd Chapman

What's the talk about?

Most debate about whether aid works is focused on typical cases of aid, such as improving sanitation or access to clean water. The effectiveness of these cases is very hard to measure accurately. Even the best cases are hard to evaluate. However, there are extreme cases, such as the eradication of an infectious disease like smallpox, which are both more important and far easier to measure. In this talk, Lloyd Chapman will examine those spectacular successes, and the dramatic impact they have for the overall success of foreign aid. Because the long tail of the very most effective projects have such impact, just evaluating those can give us a (substantial) lower bound on the effectiveness of aid.

Lloyd is a maths PhD student, interested in using his quantitative skills to research the most cost-effective ways to reduce poverty and suffering and communicating the information to other people to encourage them to think about what they can do to help.

Lee Traynor

When?
Wednesday, March 19 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Lee Traynor

What's the talk about?

Science aids our understanding of the world by discovering concepts which can be used productively in human thought, and education is the means of transmitting these concepts to the next generation. But exactly what should be taught and why is subject to disagreement based on students' learning habits, teachers' preferences, parents' desires, and society's needs. The teaching of biology in general and of evolution in particular is no exception.

Therefore, Lee Traynor has looked into whether Creationism/Intelligent Design might contribute to the teaching of biology at year 7-12 level, and how scientific concepts can be harnessed to encourage students to think in the way that biologists do about how evolution happens and how new species arise.

This also casts light on the skeptic's dilemma: Are we just trying to debunk the woo, convince the misguided and win them over? Or educate a new generation from the get-go? If we choose the latter, how are we going to go about it?

Lee Traynor was born in Melbourne, Australia and studied biochemistry at University College, Oxford as an undergraduate. He is currently a senior lecturer in Technical English at the Leibniz University of Hannover in Germany and is completing a Ph.D. in biology education.

He has occasionally written for The Skeptic (UK) and Skeptic Magazine, and his latest article - an interview with James R. Flynn on IQ - is in press (Skeptic 19.1, 36-45).