Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
This month we have a British Science Week special, with topics varying from yeast sex to citizen science through wildlife cameras, and neuroscientific investigation of free will! We’re excited to be at the Rialto Theatre for this special. They have a full bar and a great technical setup, so there’ll be no pub noise to distract from these three great speakers. Of course, there’ll be the usual cakes and quiz to add to the fun.
Tickets available from Rialto website (http://www.rialtotheatre.co.uk/)
£4 Regular Nerds, £3 NUS/65+ Nerds.
Dr Kayleigh Wardell – What can we learn from yeast sex (cells)?
Kayleigh earned her PhD at the University of Nottingham by studying how broken DNA gets repaired in a strange, single-celled organism that lives in the Dead Sea (Haloferax volcanii, if you’re interested). She moved to Brighton in 2013 to take up a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Sussex, studying sex cell formation in yeast. More specifically, she is looking at what happens to DNA when sex cells are made (spoiler: it gets broken!). She will be telling us how this leads to genetic variation, and how we can learn about human reproduction by watching how yeast do it.
When not in the lab, Kayleigh can usually be found telling anyone who will listen about how cool DNA and sex cells are. She has taken part in Soapbox Science, where she stood on the Southbank of London waving around a fluffy egg and sperm. She has also attempted science-themed stand up comedy although she isn’t sure whether the audience were laughing with her or at her. Kayleigh is also the co-founder and co-chair of the Brighton and Hove British Science Association Branch, as part of her mission to get even more people excited about science.
Jon Fidler – The world of Naturebytes
This talk will explore how Naturebytes develops new digital making activities that enable people to experience the natural world around them. We will discuss the example of our DIY Wildlife Cam Kit, a motion-sensitive camera powered by the Raspberry Pi computer, and how it can help deliver skills in coding, electronics, 3D design and printing, and educate people about conservation. Using the Wildlife Cam Kits we are building a community of wildlife digital makers and an expanding network of cameras to generate and share information about wildlife.
One of the co-founders of Naturebytes, Jon has been heavily involved in 3D printing and design for 10 years and is the founder of Modla, a creative design consultancy based in London. At Modla, he has lead projects with The Science Museum, Nike and Saint-Gobain. He is now on a mission to educate young people and inspire the next generation to do amazing things with 3D design and printing technologies. Jon grew up on a farm which has given him a strong interest in nature and, through Naturebytes, combines this enthusiasm for the natural world with the world of design.
Dr Jim Parkinson – Free Will: What is it? Does it truly exist?
Jim gained his PhD in Experimental Psychology in 2007 at the University of Sussex, investigating links between action and perception: Does how you perform an action affect how you perceive the action? He then went on to work with Dr Anne Springer and Professor Wolfgang Prinz at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. Whilst there he investigated how individuals can predict and internally simulate the visual perception of human motion.
Following this, he worked with Professor Patrick Haggard at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL, where he conducted research into the volitional self-control of actions. In 2013 he returned to the University of Sussex, joining the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science as a postdoctoral research fellow.
One of Jim’s main research interests is Free Will: What is it? Does it truly exist? Why do we at least have the feeling we are “free”? This also encompasses self-control and motor inhibition, the sense of agency and intention, and subliminal priming of volitional behaviour. This research utilises the state-of-the-art neuroscientific equipment that the Sackler Centre offers, such as electroencephalogram (EEG) recording and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) techniques. Jim is also the (other) co-chair of the Brighton and Hove British Science Association Branch.
We’re back in the North Laine for Nerd Nite Brighton 38! As always we have three entertaining yet educational talks for you, and the usual cakes and quiz.
Emma Kilbey – The Ayn Lady
Emma Kilbey is an actor, singer, writer, dramaturg, director and trainer, specialising in character comedy, devised theatre and script-writing. She is a founder member, performer and writer for Brighton-based Radio City Theatre (Theatre Royal/Komedia Brighton). She also sings sporadically with psychedelic folk band, Foundry Folk Union and early music trio, The Silver Swans. Emma is giving a talk based on the life and times of the Atlas Shrugged writer, Ayn Rand.
Laurie Jackson – How can we keep rhinos horny?
Laurie has lived in Sussex since 2008, when she moved to the area to work for Sussex Wildlife Trust. Now employed by Buglife, she provides advice to land owners about safeguarding pollinating insects. Laurie is passionate about environmental conservation and loves exploring new corners of Sussex as well as leading wildlife holidays in Europe. She’s mad about butterflies, moths and birds but she also sits on the committee of Sussex Mammal Group and teaches mammal courses locally. Laurie will be giving a talk based on a recent trip to South Africa studying bird-mammal associations. The trip took place as part of research by the University of Brighton into the role of rhinos as ecosystem engineers and what the impact could be if they disappeared – a very real threat due to poaching.
Guy Pattinson – Storymaking, storytelling and storydoing
Despite having worked in communications for 20 years, Guy is a late-to-the-party nerd about stories. As the founding driving force behind Long Run Works, he is always on the hunt for new ways to create stronger stories for good ideas so that they can grow faster. Straight out of Uni he landed on his feet with a job he loved, creating campaigns for the Premier League, England rugby team and London Olympics, and within five years becoming a director of one of the UK’s top five PR agencies. Then it hit him; there are more important things in life than what happens at 3pm on Saturday afternoon, just. And there are definitely better things to do than sell the brown fizzy drinks and credit cards of sponsors. So he ditched the dark arts and relearned his craft while working to support the technologists, scientists and engineers who are tackling societies biggest challenges. He sleeps better but remains restless in pursuit of the perfect story.
Tickets £4 (£3 Student/65+ nerds)
Join us in the North Laine for the first Nerd Nite Brighton of 2017. As always we have three fun-yet-informative talks for you, and the usual cakes and quiz.
1. Ben Dyson – The Science of Rock, Paper, Scissors
Ben Dyson is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Sussex. He graduated from York University, UK, in 2002 after completing his thesis on auditory cognition and went on to a postdoctoral fellowship position at the Rotman Research Institute, Canada (2002-2004) to learn about event-related potentials. His first academic position was at the (then) Department of Psychology at the University of Sussex, UK (2005-2008). He returned to Canada to work at Ryerson University, Toronto for six and a half years where he remains an Adjunct Professor. Ben returned to Brighton in January 2015. Find out more about his research at: http://users.sussex.ac.uk/~bjd21/ReCognition/
2. Steve Cross – Your Favourite Dead Scientist was an Arsehole
Steve is a comedian and nerd celebrity who specialises in turning science upside-down and shaking it till its lunch money falls out. He’s the founder of Bright Club, an international network of academic comedy nights, and the force behind the chaotic cabarets Science Showoff and Books Showoff. His dream in life is to make every nerd funny, and his website is http://www.clevermakefunny.com/
3. Pollie Barden – Older People & Technology: Digital Learners to Digital Leaders
Pollie is a Lecturer in Product Design at the University of Sussex. Her research focuses on creating delightful user experiences with technology. She has over ten years of experience in designing, developing and project managing digital experiences that range from web/mobile platforms, physical computing to pervasive games. She has presented her work at conferences and exhibitions across the globe. As an educator, Pollie has taught physical computing, coding, game and graphic design in workshops and at universities in both the U.S. and U.K. Her varied experience informs her success at managing and mediating professional relationships and fostering team building. Find out more and see her work at http://www.pabadesigns.com/
Tickets £4 (£3 Student/65+ nerds)
It’s the Annual Nerd Nite Brighton Christmas, complete with our traditional Physics carols around the accordion, and three great speakers.
1. Julian Mayers – A Cosmologist’s Guide to Life, Loss and Love
Julian Mayers is a part time cosmologist, currently researching into astrophysical X-ray phenomena associated with black holes – and will be able to complete his Phd when he has enough time to give it the attention it deserves. He runs an on-line video and audio production company with many clients in science and academia and also makes radio 4 documentaries for the BBC, sometimes with a science-y bent.
2. Ian Watts – Fun with Robots in TV
Ian Watts is a Senior Lecturer in Engineering at the University of Brighton. He worked for 17 years as an engineer and lecturer in television and radio with the BBC, contributing to shows including Panorama, Horizon and Bergerac. He built robots for Top Gear, Scrapheap Challenge, Holby City, Battlebots and more. Ian was Roboteer in Residence at the Institute of Applied Technology, a triple Gold Medallist at the BBC Techno games, winner of Battlebots Royal Rumble in San Francisco, and was International Champion at the Dutch Robot Wars Games.
3. Kath Church – The 12 Days Of Xmas – Semiotic Deconstruction and re-definition in a post-Brexit Paradigm
Katherine has dedicated her life to a semiotic study of Xmas tropes and has been longing for a paradigm shift to enable her to re- interpret them. 2016, although not a great year for many has been a great source of inspiration. A chilling tale made cheerful with the help of The Muppets.
There’s be the usual cakes, and a festive modelling competition!
Tickets £4 (£3 Student/65+ nerds)
We’re back with three more fascinating speakers, eager to tell you what they’re nerdishly passionate about.
As always we’ll have the usual quizzing, cakes, music and drinks. Tickets £4 (£3 Student/65+ nerds) from Eventbrite.
Join us in our new venue for another fun night of evidence-based entertainment. This month we have three great talks on wonderfully varied topics. Learn about why pan-species listing is important for naturalists, hear an argument for intelligent musical thievery, and take a look inside AA.
1. Graeme Lyons – Going down the pan-species listing route to becoming a better naturalist
Graeme Lyons is senior ecologist for Sussex Wildlife Trust, a freelance consultant, life-long naturalist and founding member of the Pan-species Listing Movement. 38 years old, he has already seen and identified 6,345 species in the UK. Graeme is also the county recorder for bugs (heteroptera). Graeme’s main passion is invertebrates, particularly beetles, bugs and spiders, but his interest in wildlife is far-ranging with birds, bryophytes, molluscs, cetaceans, fish and fungi high on his identification ability.
In his talk, Graeme will tell us about becoming a better naturalist through pan-species listing. His skills revolve around setting up efficient and focused monitoring strategies across a broad range of taxa to answer questions about habitat management. He also uses this data to inform the management planning process in a feedback loop which constantly informs and fine tunes the habitat management cycle! For more info, see http://www.brc.ac.uk/psl/home
2. Dave Waller – Stealing is wrong (but sampling is ace): an argument for intelligent musical thievery
In his talk, Dave will lead us on an audio trip through the magic and history of sampling. His tools: his own blessing/curse of a record collection and a wonky portable turntable. Sampling has had a bad rap since it exploded, almost accidentally, in the mid-80s, with arguments that it’s uncreative and steals work from actual musicians. And thanks to the threat of costly court cases, it’s pretty much off the map now for any hip-hop producer who isn’t Kanye West or working for Jay Z. Which is a shame, as there’s so much beauty in sampling too: not only can a four-bar snippet propel you down a rabbit hole into a lifetime’s exploration of forgotten musical treasures, but there’s a real alchemic quality that comes with stumbling on the old, dusty and/or weird and creating something new.
Dave is a writer who was dubbed ‘the hip-hop encyclopaedia’ upon arrival at university. Disclaimer: that was 20 years ago. But it’s thanks to hip-hop and sampling that he’s still spinning such gems as ‘Actual Business Letters’, Cliff Richard’s ‘Two a Penny’ and ‘Fight the Flab with Terry Wogan’.
3. Jon Stewart – Inside AA: Can God Cure Alcoholism?
Alcoholics Anonymous offers a commonly accepted and media endorsed “spiritual” programme of recovery — but can God really offer meaningful solutions to this debilitating, potentially fatal condition? If so, how do we help all the secular alcoholics?
AA’s famous 12 Step programme evolved from the tenets of a now forgotten evangelical Christian mass movement. First published in 1939, it remains entirely unchanged since then.
How did a Higher Power become the go-to treatment modality for one of the great social health scourges of our time? Is spiritually-based health care even ethical? It’s the twenty first century, is this really the best we can do?
This wide ranging talk draws on the work evolutionary psychologist Andy Thomson (Trustee of the Richard Dawkins Foundation) and philosopher Dan Dennett to show how sacred texts and faith-based belief systems are being challenged in a new age of internet transparency. Jon Stewart was co-founder, guitarist and co-songwriter for platinum-selling Britpop band Sleeper. He currently lectures in popular culture at a local HE Institution, and is a PhD researcher at University of Southampton. A grateful sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 14 years, Jon also campaigns for more up-to-date evidence-based secular treatment options via his blog at http://jonsleeper.wordpress.com/
As always we’ll have the usual quizzing, cakes, music and drinks!
Tickets £4 (£3 Student/65+ nerds) from here – book early to avoid disappointment
We hope you all enjoyed double Nerd Nite July last month. It’s August and we are back to enlighten you once more. Hosting his last Nerd Nite Brighton this month is founder Partha Das so please come and join us for the usual cake, drinks, quizzing and merriment.
1. The algorithm will see you now: big data and the future of healthcare – Ben Bray
Our health records contains some of the most personal and intimate information about ourselves, but as healthcare (finally) moves into the digital age, what are the technological, social and ethical implications of a world rich in electronic health data? From medical artificial intelligence and an internet of healthy things, to new challenges to privacy and data ownership, we will explore the ways that big data is transforming health and healthcare.
Dr Ben Bray is a public health doctor and research director for the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme. Based at the Farr Institute of Health Informatics at University College London, he works on new uses of data analytics and visualisation in healthcare
2. Scanning for gold: what makes an Olympic athlete? – Malcolm Johnston
In his talk, Malcolm will explore the anatomy and physiology that makes an Olympic athlete ‘superhuman,’ and how modern imaging techniques can show why an athlete’s body is adapted to perform at the highest level. Using MRI scanning to demonstrate how the body changes with training across both power and endurance events, Malcolm will discuss how measurements of different parameters are used to optimise performance. Are we all potential Olympic athletes or are some people just destined for greatness?
Dr Malcolm Johnston is a consultant radiologist in Brighton specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of disease using modern imaging techniques. He is a qualified skiing instructor and competes at downhill mountain biking but has never come close to Olympic level sport. In fact he often struggles in the parents race on sports day.
3. Believing in life after death – why everyone should be an organ donor – Hannah Maple
Despite living in Crawley, Hannah managed to get into King’s College London Medical School and is now a transplant surgeon. Having graduated in 2007 she pursued a surgical career before taking a break from clinical work in 2011 to undertake a PhD. Based at Guy’s Hospital, London her research examined the psychological aspects of donating kidneys from the perspective of the donor and sought to understand more about what donors get out of the process. Why would someone want to give up an organ? She has recently conducted the world’s largest study of non-directed altruistic organ donors (people who donate their organs to strangers) and will tonight discuss her work alongside other ethical and legal controversies in the transplantation of organs.
Doors at 7.30pm for an 8pm start downstairs at Patterns
Tickets £4 (£3 Student/65+ nerds) from here – book early to avoid disappointment
This month our speakers are:
1. The rise of the ‘heritage’ vegetable – Abigail Wincott
What do Reclaim the Fields, Raymond Blanc and the UN have in common? They’ve all championed ‘heritage’ vegetables, fruit and seeds. From seed swaps to restaurant menus to the gardens of stately homes, the idea of ‘heritage’ vegetables has become almost inescapable for UK consumers in the last few years. The politics and economics of heritage vegetables is confusing. Their advocates include anti-capitalist activists but also the National Trust and Michelin starred restaurants. Sometimes they’re given away free, yet where they’re for sale, they’re always expensive. Globally there’s a huge and growing network of publicly funded seed vaults and research programmes. So what is so special about ‘heritage’ vegetables and seeds for all these groups? And what on earth does it all mean for the rest of us?
Abigail Wincott is an academic and programme maker who is interested in how we make use of the past in thinking about the current and future of food, including understanding food poverty and the politics of food heritage.
2. Complexity theory and food – Rachael Taylor
Food systems are complex and complexity theory presents a useful way of understanding interactions between different parts of food systems. Starting with an example of the humble apple, this talk will take a look at the complexities of food and how an apple in Brighton interacts with food in vastly different contexts. Using the concept of complexity theory, the non-linear, unpredictable, dynamic, and emergent behaviour of food systems will be explained in relation to the apple.
Rachael Taylor is a PhD candidate at the Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex. Her PhD research is on adaptive capacity in agricultural livelihoods in Northern Ghana. She also works as a researcher for a range of institutes and organisations, doing research on food-related topics in the UK and West Africa.
3. Making sense of the sugary stuff – Carol Williams
Brighton is the first ‘Sugar Smart’ city and sugarphobia is rampant. For example ‘Sugar Puffs’ are now ‘Honey Monster Puffs’ . Carol will be scrutinising sugar, fruit and food and trying to find the proverbial balanced approach.
Carol Williams is a public health nutritionist and academic who worked with the nongovernmental organisations that brought the 5 a day fruit and veg message to the UK in 1992, and wrote the first published guidance on what counts as a portion.. She is interested in how public health recommendations are interpreted by manufactures and consumers.
There will be the usual cake, quizzing, music and merriment. See you there!
Tickets from here (£4 regular nerds, £3 NUS/65+ nerds, doors 7.30pm for 8pm start)
So we said we’d give May a break because of the Fringe but then an opportunity came up that we couldn’t turn down. We are delighted to be hosted in the Main House at the amazing Warren site courtesy of our friends at Otherplace who have looked after us so well at The Basement.
We’re starting a little bit earlier with doors at 7pm for a 7.30pm start and finishing a bit earlier too as have 2 rather than the usual 3 talks. But, that’s good news for you nerds as it means cheaper tickets – woop woop.
Our talks this month:
1. The Best Animal Ever – Mr Russell Arnott
What do you think the best animal is? Is it the cutest? Or the biggest? Or the fastest? No! Whatever your current favourite is, Russell will convert you (HINT: it’s not a whale).
Russell Arnott is an oceanographer, physics teacher, and outreach officer for WhaleFest’s Incredible Oceans. He visits schools around the country with an inflatable whale and teaches children how important the oceans are. He also enjoys homebrewing and shouting in punk bands.
2. Masturbation and Mutilation in Victorian England – Dr Catherine Pope
Catherine Pope has a PhD on the Victorian novelist and saucepot Florence Marryat. Catherine is based in the Doctoral School at the University of Sussex, and also runs Victorian Secrets, an independent press dedicated to publishing books from and about the nineteenth century. She will be discussing women’s sexuality and the extreme measures that were devised to control it.
Beers, cake, music, quizzing and the usual in a huge inflatable dome thing! And there’s tonnes going on in the Warren before and after!
£3 regular nerds, £2 NUS/65+ nerds – tickets direct from Otherplace
See you there!
Sorry about our tardiness getting the word out on the street about this month’s Nerd Nite which is everything to do with numbers and maths. Our talks and speakers:
1. Probability: making sense of an uncertain world – Prof Enrico Scalas
Most popular science books totally ignore probability so it can be a bit of a mystery to the general public. This is a shame becaise it is essential for our understanding of the world and is at the foundation of all applied sciences. It is also an active field of research with many open problems. Enrico will unravel probability using a coin and a pair of dice following the historical path paved by Pascal and Fermat. He’ll also try to reply to a gambling question posed by Pascal’s friend Antoine Gombaud, a.k.a. Chevalier de Méré.
Enrico Scalas is currently Professor of Statistics and Probability and Head of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Sussex. He works on the applications of probability to physics, economics and finance. He is author of more than 100 papers and 2 books.
2. Chaos and synchrony: the maths of life – Dr Yuliya Kyrychko
Complex systems are everywhere. They arise in a variety of natural and artificial settings such as electrical power grids, computer communication networks, transportation systems, global financial institutions, neurons in the brain and the social media used by millions every day.
Yuliya will use real world examples to discuss how we can use mathematical modelling to understand the dynamics of such systems, and what we can learn from their emergent behaviour. We will see how these systems can be completely disordered and unpredictable, or fully synchronised.
Dr Yuliya Kyrychko is a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Sussex. Originally from the Ukraine she completed her PhD in Mathematics from the University of Surrey before moving to the Department of Engineering Mathematics in Bristol. In 2007 she was awarded the EPSRC Postdoctoral Fellowship to work on modelling of structure responses in earthquake situations, the only such award in the history of the Faculty of Engineering in Bristol to date. In 2010, she moved to Sussex as a Lecturer in Mathematics, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2014. Her interests lie in the area of mathematical modelling of real-world phenomena, nonlinear analysis and delay equations.
3. The mathematics of infectious diseases – Dr Konstantin Blyuss
Mathematics can help us understand how infectious diseases spread and damage organisms. Konstantin will take you on a journey exploring how maths can model infectious disease behaviour both at the level of the population and from the perspective of how microorganisms evade the human immune system.
Having obtained his MSc in theoretical physics in Ukraine and a Diploma in Germany, Dr Konstantin Blyuss came to do his PhD at the University of Surrey in 2000. This was followed by positions in Exeter and Oxford and lectureships in mathematics in Keele University and the Bristol Centre for Complexity Sciences before coming to the University of Sussex in 2010. Konstantin works in the area of applied mathematics with a particular interest in nonlinear dynamics and its applications to epidemiology and immunology.
And the usual cake, beers, quizzing, drinking, laughing, silliness, etc
With live dynamic real-time hosting by Dr Mick Taylor
Doors 7.30pm for an 8pm start
£4 regular nerds, £3 NUS/65+ nerds
Tickets from our lovely hosts at Otherplace at the Basement on Kensington Street.