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Understanding How Our Genes Work

Dr Kat Arney

When?
Tuesday, April 5 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Dr Kat Arney

What's the talk about?

The language of genes has become common in the media. We know they make your eyes blue, your hair curly or your nose straight. We're told that genes control the risk of cancer, heart disease, alcoholism or Alzheimer's. The cost of DNA sequencing has plummeted from billions of pounds to a few hundred, and gene-based advances in medicine hold huge promise.

There are 2.2 metres of DNA inside every one of your cells, encoding roughly 20,000 genes. These are the 'recipes' that tell our cells how to make the building blocks of life, along with all the control switches ensuring they're turned on and off at the right time and in the right place. But rather than a static string of genetic code, this is a dynamic, writhing biological library. With the help of cats with thumbs, fish with hips and wobbly worms, Kat will unpack some of the mysteries in our DNA and explain the latest thinking about how our genes work.

Dr Kat Arney is a science communicator and award-winning blogger for Cancer Research UK, as well as a freelance science writer and broadcaster whose work has featured on BBC Radio 4, the Naked Scientists and more.

On Facebook? Join the Nottingham Skeptics Facebook group for interesting discussions and event invites.

Dean Burnett

When?
Tuesday, March 1 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Dean Burnett

What's the talk about?

The hugely popular Guardian Brain Flapping science blogger, Dean Burnett, comes to Nottingham to talk about his new book: The Idiot Brain.

It is a surprising, funny and mind-bending examination of how and why the brain sabotages our behaviour.

Dr Dean Burnett has spent nearly two decades studying the human brain, the most complex, mysterious object in the known universe.
In the same way that flaws begin to show when you spend too much time with one person, over time Burnett has come to learn that the human brain can be quite unreliable.
The Idiot Brain explores the many ways in which the brain does things inefficiently, illogically or just plain stupidly, and how these regularly end up influencing our everyday lives and the world around us.

From attention mechanisms to memory processing, the neuroscience of sleep and the psychology of superstition, The Idiot Brain highlights all manner of ways in which the brain is flawed or shoddy, how these impact on our lives in countless ways, and how it’s OK to laugh at all this regardless.

Note: Dean will be selling (and signing) copies of his book at this event.

On Facebook? Join the Nottingham Skeptics Facebook group for interesting discussions and event invites.

Michael Lachmann

When?
Tuesday, February 2 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Michael Lachmann

What's the talk about?

When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon in 1969 - the Americans entered history as the winners of the Space Race. This isn't their story.


Micky Lachmann is going to talk about their competitors the Soviets, and how they managed to beat the Americans to almost every milestone in Space.


It's a story we don't know very well - the Soviets operated under a shroud of almost total secrecy. But some of the early cosmonauts are still alive and have incredible and often terrifying stories to tell. So this is also an account of going to Russia and trying to find these amazing - and mostly bad tempered - men and women.


Micky studied Natural Sciences and then dropped out of a PhD in tropical fish behaviour to work in science journalism. Over 15 years at the BBC he has worked on - among other things - Walking with Beasts, many Horizon's and is partly responsible for bringing Brian Cox to our screens - for which he is very sorry.

Katie Atkinson

When?
Tuesday, January 5 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Katie Atkinson

What's the talk about?

In this talk Katie will provide an insight into the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to show how current research on the topic breaks many of the moulds found in numerous depictions of AI in sci-fi literature and films. She will provide an overview of the main techniques used to represent aspects of intelligent thought and behaviour, and discuss some of the landmark success stories and current state-of-the-art. Katie will further pinpoint some of the challenges that AI researchers face, covering technological, legal and ethical aspects.

Katie Atkinson is Professor of Computer Science and Head of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Liverpool. Academic staff in the Department carry out both pure and applied research in their two main areas of expertise: AI and Algorithms.  In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, the Computer Science department was ranked 1st in the UK for 4* and 3* research, with 97% of its research being rated as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Katie's research concerns computational models of argument, with a particular focus on persuasive argumentation in practical reasoning and how this can be applied in domains such as e-Democracy, law and agent systems. She has published over one hundred articles on these, and closely related, subjects. She received her PhD from the University of Liverpool in 2005.

Emma McClure

When?
Tuesday, December 1 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Emma McClure

What's the talk about?

A grisly murder scene, a renegade detective pours over the scene. They find an overlooked clue; a hair, a footprint, a shell casing. Detailed analysis matches it to the bad guy. The bad guy goes to jail - this is often how modern day forensics are thought of and how it is often portrayed in shows such as 'CSI' and 'Silent Witness'.

Forensic evidence is seen as conclusive when it comes to catching suspects and deciding if someone is guilty in a criminal trial. How could the traces left behind at a crime scene lie?

The science in areas such as DNA collection has progressed enormously in recent decades allowing for break-throughs in many old and cold cases.

However, we have also seen many high profile exonerations of those previously convicted of the most serious of crimes on seemingly 'conclusive' forensic evidence. This has lead to increasing scrutiny of the way it is analysed, interpreted and presented in the courtroom.

In this talk, prison lawyer Emma McClure explores this issue alongside the amusing, confusing and sometimes tragic consequences of failing to take a skeptical approach to scientific evidence.

David Alnwick

When?
Monday, November 23 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
David Alnwick

What's the talk about?

Mind Reader.  Cult Leader.  Dave.
 
David Alnwick takes his critically acclaimed magic show on tour, gathering new followers in order to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming the leader of his own cult.  Employing practical, real world examples of 'social manipulation', Dave will entertain, excite and inspire.  Come and worship at the feet of your new lord and commander. 
 
After the performance there will be a 30 minute talk on the ideas and techniques employed within the show including some mention on the wider psychology in play.  This will be followed with a 30 minute question and answer session.

Why children are great pretenders, poor problem solvers, and sometimes less clever than crows

Sarah Beck

When?
Tuesday, November 3 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Sarah Beck

What's the talk about?

Young children are excellent imaginers, coming up with all kinds of creative and weird worlds. But what is the imagination really for? Adults use their imaginations to solve problems, but children sometimes struggle with this. In this talk, Sarah Beck will explore how children start to use their imaginations for creative problem solving, using examples of children’s thinking about ‘how things might have been different’ and comparing children’s tool-making to that of clever non-human animals.

 

Sarah Beck is Reader in Cognitive Development at the University of Birmingham. She researches children's thinking about possibility and time, and questions whether adults' thinking in these areas is as sophisticated as we might like to think. She teaches an undergraduate course that compares the cognitive abilities of human children with non-human animals.

 

Ash Pryce

When?
Tuesday, October 6 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Ash Pryce

What's the talk about?

Hydesville. New York. 1848. The young Fox sisters begin communicating with the spirit of a murdered beggar and spiritualism is born.

This interactive look at a history of talking to the dead will feature an array of magical treats including levitating tables, ectoplasm manifestation and spirit communication.

Part magic show, part comedy, part rational inquiry this fun show has regularly packed venues at the Edinburgh fringe.

Ouija Boards

Spirit Slates
Spirit Communication
Stopped Pulses
Spewing ectoplasm
And more...

"Ash Pryce is a naturally funny guy and won't allow his audience to be bored" "Very entertaining" - edfringereview

"Go see" - Edinburgh Skeptics

About Ash

Ash Pryce is a performer and director based in Scotland.  He has written and staged several skeptically themed shows looking at myths & legends, ghosts, psychics and mediumship as well as producing full plays ranging from Faustus to more contemporary original shows in Edinburgh.  He is the founder of Edinburgh Skeptics, the newly started History in the Pub Edinburgh, and runs what is believed to be the worlds first skeptical ghost tour every Fringe.  He lives just outside of Edinburgh with his three Degus, one of which holds a grudge against him.

 

Philip Moriarty

When?
Tuesday, September 8 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Philip Moriarty

What's the talk about?

There is no doubt that quantum physics embodies mind-blowing concepts that force us to question the very nature of reality.  And if there’s a contender for our current best “theory of everything” then quantum mechanics wins hands down.

But, far too often, the word “quantum” signals the worst type of vacuous pseudoscientific gobbledegook. It’s exploited by those who are entirely clueless about the underlying physics -- or, worse, should know better -- to evoke a misplaced mysticism about the ‘holistic’ nature of the universe. Moreover, when consciousness and quantum collide, the nonsense factor goes through the roof…

Philip Moriarty will aim to tease out the science from the mysticism and show that while quantum physics certainly has its weird and wacky aspects, it’s at heart a theory of waves. That means we can very often easily interpret what’s happening at the quantum level in terms of the everyday world around us – he’ll take a look at what coffee cups, drums, and a SlinkyTM can tell us about the broader nature of the universe (and Deepak Chopra’s place in it).

Philip Moriarty is a professor of physics at the University of Nottingham. He tweets at @Moriarty2112 and blogs at www.muircheart.wordpress.com.

Daisy Christodoulou

When?
Tuesday, August 4 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Daisy Christodoulou

What's the talk about?

How do we best teach children to have a sceptical and questioning attitude? Can pupils learn everything they need to know from first principles? Are there some things they just need to take on trust? If pupils do need to depend on authority, how can we also teach them to be sceptical of authority? And what does scientific evidence have to tell us about this – how do we think and learn, and is it even possible to teach critical thinking and scepticism?
 

Bonus Talk from PubhD at 21:00

Lexi Earl (Education) is a final year PhD in the School of Education. Her research explores food experiences in primary schools and focuses in particular on how policies are taken up in schools. She examines how food-related topics like obesity and ‘foodieness’ are adopted within the school setting, and how this affects the kinds of human beings we can become. She blogs about cake and the PhD experience at Philosophy and Madeleines.

The NHS & Beyond

Michael Marshall

When?
Tuesday, July 7 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

Homeopathy is one of the most widely debunked form of alternative medicine – yet homeopathic remedies adorn the shelves of respected pharmacies and are funded by taxpayers on the NHS. How big of a problem is this?

Using information and personal experiences gathered during his last 6 years of campaigning against homeopathy, Michael Marshall will highlight how much money is spent on homeopathic remedies, how this gives undeserved credibility to homeopathy, how such remedies can lead to genuine harm and what you can do to help.

--

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

Sophie Scott

When?
Tuesday, June 9 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Sophie Scott

What's the talk about?

NOTE: This talk will start at 7 pm (prompt!). 

Professor Sophie Scott is the Welcome Trust Senior Fellow at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London researching the neuroscience of voices, speech and laughter.  Oh, and she's an occasional standup too!

In this talk Sophie will look at some of the problems with the Brain Sex theory of brain organisation, and also address some of the conceptual issues people run into when they try to develop brain based theories of sexuality.

You can listen Sophie talking to Jim Al-Khalili on R4's The Life Scientific about her research here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03bdpl5

Bonus Extra talk from 9 pm to 9.30 pm: "PubhD Sampler".

A previous PubhD speaker will tell us about their research for 10 minutes followed by a 20 minute Q&A. The speaker is Mark Iliffe who is researching mapping in developing countries and how to create better services using that data.