If you’re in London, I highly recommend you set aside a little time this weekend and come check this out.
Or, if you’re free on Wednesday night, the potential for shenanigans is even higher, because it will be night time and there will be alcohol.
My preference would be for the weekend, because there will be more fantastic brain food than at Lates, in the form of an expanded talks series, an immersive virtual reality demo, hooking up a zombie to a real EEG, and probably less drunk people shouting.
While I probably won’t get to enjoy much of the next week, I have enjoyed elements of the development of this festival immensely. The brain is one of the most complicated things we have studied, and the people who dedicate their lives to understanding and explaining it have brilliant and hard-hitting stories to tell.
(h/t to Mark Whatmore for putting me on to this)
Props to the University of Bristol – I like seeing real scientists posed big questions. Knowledge in general, and science specifically, is inextricably linked to the power which is wielded in society. It can be more or less explicit in its link – the atomic bomb is an obvious example of scientific power in many ways. A different example is the ‘modern’ approach to agriculture. Knowledge and power play out in an enormously complicated global food web. It ranges from the most local level – the battle of managing a crop to maturation in an unstable environment with pests and other challenges – to the global market in food that most of us have only the faintest awareness of.
I’m about to run off to see the Mad Caddies, so I can’t elaborate further, but it’s a thought provoking question: scientific knowledge has been immensely positive AND negative so far; how can we push the balance towards the positive in the future? Can science actually save us?
Have you ever looked at a picture of the night sky and realised just how utterly ill-equipped we are to comprehend the enormity of the Universe?
Prepare to enjoy that sense of inadequate wonder again.
(Full screen, with a low volume, helps with this one I find). Rohan, who assembled the clip, says:
What you are seeing is the entire Milky Way (our home galaxy) from end to end as we see it from Earth. The image was captured in multiple wavelengths hence the interesting range of colours.
Whoa. While the video moves slowly, the subject is enormous, and I think it deserves a bit of our time to comprehend where we sit in space.
I think the closest I’ve ever felt to astronomy and the night sky was when I was on my 2010 road trip; here’s a few dug-out photos from that:
A fiery moonset over Yorke Peninsula.
A moonlight night scene in my favourite meteor-spotting location…
A little bit of light painting while I waited for the half hour exposure.
A shadow of contemplation. And a sneaky satellite.
Everything that’s good about ridiculous cover songs, wrapped up in a blind furry animal.
I’m absolutely delighted with this video. It’s brilliant. The words fit the tune perfectly, AND it is spot-on correct. I hope this can be played in high school chemistry classes everywhere in the English speaking world. I’d use it in the basic chem course I taught back at Griffith; the mole concept is a struggle for many students. No more!
Next up: O2 Joy: The story of photosynthesis?
Categories: Science, Videos
My job is pretty cool. After a month and a half of guessing what two of my workmates had been slaving away on – they weren’t allowed to talk about it – I was invited to a press launch.
It had a live dance routine.
That’s pretty cool.
The project was the launch of ENCODE, which happened at the Science Museum a few weeks ago. It is a major effort to investigate and explore the human genome, trying to go beyond reams and reams of base pairs to find actual function. You might have heard about it; this is an excellent overview.
Anyway, I got to sneak around taking a few pictures from the launch. It was impressive.
I genuinely didn’t expect to see something like this at a science press release.
The dance represented the physical bending and shaping of the genome by proteins and RNA.
At times, there was effortless grace and fluid motion; at others, awkward contortion and physical effort. A bit like any difficult endeavour!
I’m going to try to upload my last month or so of pictures soon… promise!