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From Darwin to Evo-Devo

Dr Neil Gostling

When?
Thursday, November 9 2017 at 7:00PM

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Where?

Goldsmith Avenue
Southsea
Portsmouth
PO4 0AW

Who?
Dr Neil Gostling

What's the talk about?

"I will talk about the book chapter by chapter, bring some fossils, and talk about some of the controversy (that doesn’t exist in the scientific community, and indeed Darwin addressed himself) surrounding evolution and natural selection.

I encourage discussion and questions throughout when I talk, and hopefully this will make for an interesting evening."

Neil is an evolutionary-developmental biologist (Evo-Devo) by training and a palaeontologist by research. He uses innovative methods to answer questions from the evolution of animals to the development of root systems.

*NEW VENUE* The Rifle

Norman Fenton

When?
Thursday, October 12 2017 at 6:45PM

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Where?

Goldsmith Avenue
Southsea
Portsmouth
PO4 0AW

Who?
Norman Fenton

What's the talk about?

Every day in the news we are bombarded with statistics about risk:
whether it is the health risks or benefits of consuming certain types of food and drink, the risk of climate ‘events’ from different types of human activity or the risks associated with different modes of transport, the narratives are often contradictory and difficult to understand. In fact, I will argue that most of the statistics about risk that you read about are either misleading or completely flawed. This is due to basic misunderstandings of probability. This talk will highlight how such misunderstandings often lead to flawed decision-making in many critical areas such as medicine, the law and transport safety planning.
I will highlight how a simple mathematical formula (Bayes’ Theorem) can help avoid most of these errors when coupled with causal models of risk.

Bayesian reasoning and analysis offers us a remarkable insight into why the world behaves the way it does and how we can prepare ourselves for future events. My presentation is informed by many years of work in risk assessment which ranges from helping the aviation authorities to avoid mid-air collisions through to interpreting forensic evidence in murder trials, and even beating the bookies at football betting.

 £3 on the door

 General arrival - 18:45 -19:00

 Presentation - 19:00

 Drinks break - 19:45

 Q&A session 20:00 until around 20:30



Norman Fenton is Professor of Risk Information Management at Queen Mary London University and is also a Director of Agena, a company that specialises in risk management for critical systems. Norman, who is a mathematician by training, works on quantitative risk assessment. This typically involves analysing and predicting the probabilities of unknown events using Bayesian statistical methods including especially causal, probabilistic models (Bayesian networks). This type of reasoning enables improved assessment by taking account of both statistical data and also expert judgment. In April 2014 Norman was awarded one of the prestigious European Research Council Advanced Grants (BAYES-KNOWLEDGE) to focus on these issues. Norman's experience in risk assessment covers a wide range of application domains such as legal reasoning (he has been an expert witness in major criminal and civil cases), medical analytics, vehicle reliability, embedded software, transport systems, financial services, and football prediction. Norman has a special interest in raising public awareness of the importance of probability theory and Bayesian reasoning in everyday life (including how to present such reasoning in simple lay terms) and he maintains a website dedicated to this and also a blog focusing on probability and the law. In March 2015 Norman presented the award-winning BBC documentary Climate Change by Numbers 

*NEW VENUE* The Rifle

Maia Elliot

When?
Thursday, September 14 2017 at 7:15PM

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Where?

Goldsmith Avenue
Southsea
Portsmouth
PO4 0AW

Who?
Maia Elliot

What's the talk about?

NEW VENUE - THE RIFLE
The Rifle Club
 Goldsmith Avenue
 Southsea
 Portsmouth
 PO4 0AW

Next to Fratton Station

What's the talk about?

We have tens-of-thousands of genes in our DNA, but not all of them are activated at the same time. Our genes can be switched "on" and "off" in response to our environment via an evolutionary mechanism called epigenetics. In the absence of life-threatening environmental pressures, lifestyle and environment are major drivers of epigenetic changes that can impact our health.

This talk will reveal how our daily choices can induce short-term and long-term (epi)genetic changes, discuss some of the epigenetic changes that have been linked to common diseases, and highlight the current scientific evidence of transgenerational epigenetics; how our environment not only affects our own gene activity, but those of future generations too!

--

Maia Elliott is a science communicator and is currently working on her PhD in Nutrigenomics at the University of Surrey.

£3 on the door

General arrival - 19:00-19:20

Presentation - 19:30

Drinks break - 20:30

Q&A session 20:45 until around 21:30

(Approximate timings only)

Drinking Skeptically

When?
Saturday, July 15 2017 at 7:00PM

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Where?

35 Francis Ave
Portsmouth
Southsea
PO4 0HL

Who?

What's the talk about?

No speaker this month but a pub get together to discuss talks so far this year and any other skeptical topics.

Jess Spurrell

When?
Thursday, June 8 2017 at 7:15PM

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Where?

1 Lord Montgomery Way
Portsmouth
PO1 2AH

Who?
Jess Spurrell

What's the talk about?

Cryogenics is cool – seriously cool – typically working with liquid nitrogen (-196 degrees C or 77 K) and liquid helium (-268.8 degrees C or 4.2 K). Down at these temperatures, all sorts of unusual things can happen – electrical resistance can disappear, almost anything, from frogs to surfers, can levitate, liquid can climb out of its container, biological processes can be slowed almost to a halt. With some deft application of science, some clever calculations and some ingenious engineering, all of this is possible and more – yet for some reason, whenever you say you work in cryogenics, the first thing people ask is, “Do you freeze dead people? Or aliens?”

Join us for an evening of ‘Frozen Aliens and Superpowe...rs’ as we uncover some of the incredible things that Cryogenics can do – and already has done – for you. We won’t be freezing any dead people but we will explain why it’s currently not a particularly sensible idea – and we may freeze an alien or two…

Jess is about to submit her thesis on Cryogenic Engineering & Superconductivity at the University of Southampton. This is almost entirely unrelated to her MEng degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering with European Studies, which she studied also at the University of Southampton and at the SupAéro institute in Toulouse, France (because if there’s one way to make ‘Rocket Science’ harder it’s to do it in French – she can confirm, it was much harder!). This was also only loosely related to her third year research project about a Wave Energy Converter so she is an expert in not taking the direct path. It was through an accidental summer work placement at Air Products that she discovered that cryogenics is cool – seriously cool…

After discovering that other people are also excited by freezing things in liquid nitrogen and the science behind it, she has given over 30 talks, workshops and demonstrations around the UK including at Winchester and Brighton Science festivals, Science Show-off, Researchers’ Café, The Science Room @ the Art House and more. In the true spirit of procrastination, in 2015 she co-founded Bright Club Southampton and was an accidental performer at the first show. Since April 2016 she was also managing the RCUK-funded Talk to US! school-university partnership initiative and since January 2017 this role has morphed into the university’s first School-University Partnership Officer.

£3 on the door

General arrival - 19:00-19:20

Presentation - 19:30

Drinks break - 20:30

Q&A session 20:45 until around 21:30

(Approximate timings only)

How to be Skeptical about Logic and Evidence

Bob Churchill

When?
Thursday, May 11 2017 at 7:15PM

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Where?

1 Lord Montgomery Way
Portsmouth
PO1 2AH

Who?
Bob Churchill

What's the talk about?

Think you are rational?

In this SitP Bob Churchill will tell us all: You Suck at Rationalism - How to be Skeptical about Logic and Evidence

Bob Churchill will tackle some lesser known problems faced by those committed to the use of reason. Not boring problems like relativists and post-modernists think there are, but proper philosophical problems, explained so almost anyone can understand them. Bob will air challenges to rationalists and skeptics that you may never have heard before and which are often downplayed or overlooked by philosophers themselves. He will show that a smarter, leaner rationalism can survive this attack and why it should be the true philosophy of skepticism.

Bob Churchill works in policy ...and communications at the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), having previously worked at both the British Humanist Association and the Uganda Humanist Association. He studied philosophy at the University of Warwick and Queen's University, Canada, and has long-standing interests in secularism, Humanism, and epistemology. And skepticism and pubs. He has appeared as a spokesperson on the likes of BBC News and Al Jazeera and as a speaker at Skepticon, the Institute of Fundraising Technology, the Conway Hall Ethical Society, and the European Humanist Youth Days.

 £3 on the door

 General arrival - 19:00-19:20

 Presentation - 19:30

 Drinks break - 20:30

 Q&A session 20:45 until around 21:30

 (Approximate timings only)

 

Kevin Precious

When?
Thursday, April 13 2017 at 7:15PM

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Where?

1 Lord Montgomery Way
Portsmouth
PO1 2AH

Who?
Kevin Precious

What's the talk about?

Who?
Kevin Precious

What's the talk about?

In between the various comedic activites, Kevin Precious attends his local humanist group - he's an agnostic, folks - where he loves a good old debate about the big questions in life.

Expect jokes and stories then, about his time as an RE teacher, being a humanist, the God-Shaped Hole, and the philosophy of religion... and you can ask him a few questions of your own afterwards, if you wish.

Kevin Precious is a former RE teacher turned stand-up comedian and promoter. Besides having played many of the top clubs in the land, he also promotes shows in arts centres and theatres under the Barnstormers Comedy banner. He has previously toured the country with a stand-up s...how entitled 'Not Appropriate', dedicated to the business of teaching.

£3 on the door

General arrival - 19:00-19:20

Presentation - 19:30

Drinks break - 20:30

Q&A session 20:45 until around 21:30

(Approximate timings only)

 

 

Dr Karen Masters

When?
Thursday, March 9 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

1 Lord Montgomery Way
Portsmouth
PO1 2AH

Who?
Dr Karen Masters

What's the talk about?

In this talk I will cover the real science behind HG Well’s ideas about time travel through the space-time continuum. I will go on describe how we look back in time across the history of the Universe when we observe distant galaxies, and talk about how realistic HG Wells view of the far future of the Earth-Sun system was based on our current understanding of the future evolution of the Sun. I will finish by talking about the force of gravity and the anti-gravity effects revealed by observations of distance supernova which show that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating.

Dr. Karen Masters is a Reader in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth. Her research interests are in the area of extragalactic astronomy typically using data from astronomically large surveys. She is the Project Scientist for the online citizen science project www.galaxyzoo.org and the Spokesperson for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey collaboration (www.sdss.org). She teaches physics to undergraduates in Portsmouth.

£3 on the door

General arrival - 19:00-19:20

Presentation - 19:30

Drinks break - 20:30

Q&A session 20:45 until around 21:30

(Approximate timings only)

Let us know you are coming, RSVP to Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/252219311860164/

Rescheduled

Dr Mike Wood

When?
Thursday, February 9 2017 at 7:15PM

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Where?

1 Lord Montgomery Way
Portsmouth
PO1 2AH

Who?
Dr Mike Wood

What's the talk about?

Conspiracy theories are everywhere – and, arguably, always have been. What influences us to believe or reject them? Why do some events give rise to more conspiracy theories than others? What does the prevalence of conspiracy theories say about us as a society? And how is The Simpsons like an ancient Babylonian sheep’s liver? This whirlwind tour through conspiracy theory psychology will focus particularly on how suspicion, paranoia, and ambiguity help us to make sense of an uncertain world.


Dr Mike Wood is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Winchester, where he teaches social psychology, political psychology, and research methods, and conducts research on conspiracy theories and the future of methodology and statistical practice in empirical psychology. He has been interviewed on NPR, Newsweek, Der Spiegel, and Slate, and blogs irregularly at Conspiracy Psychology.

Ticketed event

Johno Pearce & Friends

When?
Thursday, December 1 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

1 Lord Montgomery Way
Portsmouth
PO1 2AH

Who?
Johno Pearce & Friends

What's the talk about?

A skeptical start to the season with an evening of songs, poetry, comedy and science with a splash of philosophy and a visit from Santa (and possibly some zombies)

 The evening will be hosted by Johno Pearce.

 Tickets will be on sale at October & November sessions - £4 each

 Available online here: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/375110

 Ticket price includes simple buffet (with vegetarian and vegan options)

 

Clio Bellenis

When?
Thursday, November 10 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

1 Lord Montgomery Way
Portsmouth
PO1 2AH

Who?
Clio Bellenis

What's the talk about?

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek - Clio Bellenis will boldly take us on a mission of philosophical discovery.


Like science fiction in general, Star Trek is a show of ideas, with a number of episodes exploring such philosophical questions as: What is it to a person? What is it to be the same person over time and change? We will explore some of these, and also wonder if some of the characterisation might be loosely drawn from Ancient Greek Philosophical ideas. Vulcans, for example might seem particularly Stoical!


In 2006 She completed an MA in Philosophy with the OU, and learned that it is a way of thinking that doesn't come easy to someone with a scientific background! Her thesis was on the Theory of Mind and Autism Dr Clio Bellenis has worked in the NHS all her life, as a child and adolescent psychiatrist for the last 25 years. She officially retired in October but hasn't managed to get away yet.

Dr. Kat Arney

When?
Thursday, October 13 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

1 Lord Montgomery Way
Portsmouth
PO1 2AH

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. She is about to publish her first book, Herding Hemingway's Cats, about how our genes work. You can order it here: http://bit.ly/HerdingHemingwaysCats