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How Do Our Genes Work?

Dr Kat Arney

When?
Wednesday, April 20 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

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 has just published her first book, Herding Hemingway's Cats, about how our genes work.

Rob Bailey

When?
Wednesday, March 16 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Rob Bailey

What's the talk about?

Rob Bailey is a Chartered Psychologist, a member of the Magic Circle and a veteran of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where, for 4 years he performed a one-man show as a ‘mind reader’. During that time, he felt increasing unease that although the show was meant to parody psychic powers and encourage critical thinking, he has risked replacing the audience’s beliefs in the paranormal with unwarranted beliefs in impossible psychological powers.

His new show is a response to that: Rob has stripped his routines back to include only genuine psychological principles. He will perform a few routines, followed by explanations (e.g. quirks of bias, memory and perception).

Exclusively for the Skeptics in the Pub audience, he will also discuss his thoughts about the pitfalls of attempting to promote critical thinking by using illusions.
 

Useful Tool or Robot Overlords?

Dr Allan Tucker

When?
Wednesday, February 17 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Dr Allan Tucker

What's the talk about?

Artificial Intelligence has been a staple of popular culture for generations from promises of a Leisure Age when robots would do all of our work while we lived in luxury to scare stories where robots turn against their masters.

Dr Tucker looks at some of the key figures in AI in the last century through to the state-of-the-art learning machines that are all around us today and asks whether we will ever really have intelligent machines that are comparable to humans.

Dr Allan Tucker is senior lecturer in computer science at Brunel University. His research focuses on designing algorithms that can learn models from data to predict the future and assist experts in making decisions. His biomedical work includes long term projects with Moorfields Eye Hospital exploring models of eye disease and he collaborates with Leiden University Medical Centre on models of gene regulation.

Using critical thinking to question yourself and others

Tannice Hemming

When?
Wednesday, January 20 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Tannice Hemming

What's the talk about?

Today's world is full of misinformation, myths and mystery - so how do you make sure you're not taken for a ride or (even worse) end up propagating false 'facts' yourself?

Tannice's talk will briefly cover why we buy into false beliefs, the context behind faith in the seemingly spurious claims of quack 'therapists', cures and snake oil salespeople and how we're all guilty of believing what we want to sometimes. Open your mind to the possibility your brain might fall out and then stitch it all back together with Tannice's quick guide to silliness, stupidity and scepticism.

Tannice was a Founding Member of the South East Skeptics Society as well as Host of Guildford Skeptics in the Pub for three and a half years. She takes over Tunbridge Wells Skeptics in the Pub, with her husband, Jacques Hemming.... this month!

Tannice has also spoken across the country on the subject of Autism including the 2012 Edinburgh Skeptics on the Fringe (and Tunbridge Wells in August 2012, where she met Jacques for the first time!) and featured on a panel at the popular science and skepticism event, QED.

She is currently an Assistant Editor for the Skeptic Magazine and her specialist interests involve vaccinations, psychology and learning disabilities.
 

When?
Wednesday, December 16 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?

What's the talk about?

Please note that this event has been cancelled as the speaker is unwell.

How Armstrong produced the greatest sporting fraud... until the next one?

Dr Mark Burnley

When?
Wednesday, November 18 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Dr Mark Burnley

What's the talk about?

Three great sporting events took place in 2012: Sir Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France, Team GB won almost everything at the London Olympics, and Lance Armstrong lost almost everything in the wake of a complicated series of investigations into his performance-enhancing drug use. It was called “the greatest heist in the history of sport”.

This heist was made possible by a number of factors associated with drug efficacy, doping controls and sports politics. To explain these factors, Mark Burnley will describe the physiology, psychology, and sociology of drug use in sport as revealed by Armstrong's case, and suggest what the future may hold for sport in general.

Dr Mark Burnley is a Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at University of Kent. A member of the Endurance Research Group at Kent, he has a keen interest in endurance performance and exercise testing and has published more than 30 research papers on these topics. He is a Physiology Section Editor for the European Journal of Sport Science and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied Physiology and Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Like all exercise physiologists, he is a keen sportsman with no significant talent.

Film Trailers and the fine art of persuading people to see a film and not make them hate you!

Fraser Bensted

When?
Wednesday, October 21 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Fraser Bensted

What's the talk about?

Are film trailers an essential part of your decision making process when deciding what to watch at the cinema or to do you actively avoid them for fear that they will spoil the experience? Fraser Bensted has been involved in the production of film trailers for over 20 years and in this talk he will look at the process of film marketing and the careful balancing act that must be performed in order to produce a successful trailer. Using a variety of examples of trailers, past and present, he will take you on a journey beyond the screen to reveal exactly how trailers are made, why they are a necessary evil, and what he says when people accuse him of being the person responsible for giving away 'all the best bits'.

Dr Emma Chapman

When?
Wednesday, September 16 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Dr Emma Chapman

What's the talk about?

With ever more ambitious telescopes and probes giving us pictures of far-off comets, planets and even other galaxies, it is easy to think that the mysteries of our Universe are solved. But look closer and we find that those galaxies are spinning much faster than they should be and our brightest stars are flying away from us at ever faster speeds. To present day we understand a mere 4% of what makes up our Universe - the photons, protons, electrons, Higgs bosons etc... I will be talking about the other 96% - the stuff that makes our Universe do very strange things but that we know almost nothing about.

Dr Faraz Alam

When?
Wednesday, August 19 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Dr Faraz Alam

What's the talk about?

Research papers are the medium used to reveal new scientific discoveries. But there is a growing body of evidence that many published research papers are false. How can science work if most scientists are getting things wrong ?

The answer to this question will take us through the history of how science is made. We'll look at how mistakes and outright falsehoods can get published. Then we'll explore how scientists are working to change the system, to fix these problems and make more published research true.

Michael Marshall

When?
Wednesday, July 15 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

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 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.

A Skeptic's View of Mediumship and Psychic Abilities

Ash Pryce

When?
Wednesday, June 17 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

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 Edinburgh Fringes. Ash Pryce promises Ouija Boards, Spirit Slates, Spirit Communication, Stopped Pulses, Spewing ectoplasm ... and more.

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.

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

Please note. This is a skeptically themed show and not intended as an actual demonstration of mediumship or psychic abilities.

News from the Energy Frontier

Professor Jon Butterworth

When?
Wednesday, May 20 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Professor Jon Butterworth

What's the talk about?

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. He regularly appears on radio and television to explain what is happening at the LHC.