Next Meetings (Thursdays)

30th August – Joanna Bagniewska: Aliens among us

27th September – Charlotte Riley: Gin, bunting and bloody railways

Next Social Event

Wednesday August 8th

Skeptics of the Round Table at the Bishop on the Bridge in Winchester from 7pm, for some informal Skeptical chat, food, drinks
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Thursday 30th August – Joanna Bagniewska: Aliens among us

Aliens among us

Aliens: supremely adaptable, successful and dangerous. A tagline for a sci-fi horror? No, it’s the reality around us. Invasive alien species – species that have come, or been brought, from one part of the world to another – can pose a huge threat to our health, finances and biodiversity. However, we can also learn a lot from them. How do we study them? What do we know about them? Can we stop the invasions? Come to the talk to find out!

Bio

Dr Joanna Bagniewska is a zoologist, specialising in behavioural ecology and marking undergraduate essays. In her spare time, she does science stand-up comedy, which really isn’t that different from her academic teaching at the University of Reading. She comes from Poland, is part of the Oxfordshire Mammal Group and has a soft spot for hedgehogs.

(Joanna has asked us if we would prefer something a bit more serious. We thinks this is fine!)

Thursday 26th July – Sarah Corbett – The Art of Gentle Protest

Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry St. 7.00 for 7.30pm

Activism often conjures up quick transactional signing of petitions, clicktivism, loud and aggressive ways to demand justice. But if we want a world that is beautiful, kind and fair, shouldn’t our activism be beautiful, kind and fair? Award-winning campaigner and Founder of the global Craftivist Collective Sarah Corbett shows how to respond to injustice not with apathy or aggression, but with gentle, effective protest.  Sarah Corbett set up the Craftivist Collective to facilitate and encourage this form of activism across the UK and around the world. She will be talking about her book ‘How To Be A Craftivist: the art of gentle protest’ a manifesto for a more respectful and contemplative activism; for conversation and collaboration where too often there is division and conflict; for using craft to engage, empower and encourage us all to be the change we wish to see in the world. She will explain her gentle protest principles with practical examples of her campaigns (including campaigns she’s won!) and stories as a burnout, introverted activist.

Sarah’s Bio

Sarah Corbett is an award-winning campaigner. She grew up in a low-income area of the UK into an activist family and has worked as a professional campaigner for a decade most recently with Oxfam GB. She set up the global and award-winning Craftivist Collective in 2009 providing products and services to do craftivism using her ‘gentle protest’ approach. She works with arts institutions, the charity sector, academic as well as unexpected collaborations such as with organisations Tatty Devine & Secret Cinema and regularly gives talks around the world. Her book “A Little Book of Craftivism’” was released October 2013 and is on it’s second print run. Her book “How To Be A Craftivist: the art of gentle protest” was out October 2017. 

 

Thursday 28th June – Rebecca Fox: How to be Reasonable by Someone Who Tried Everything Else

Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry St. 7.00 for 7.30pm

Most of us weren’t born reasonable. We were born into a superstitious culture with only our ramshackle primate brains to try and figure out what’s going on. Reason, an appreciation for evidence and critical thinking skills are virtues that most of us had to fight for and that we have to work hard to keep up in difficult situations.

Rebecca Fox is no exception. She grew up believing many strange things and has had to train herself to think critically. Instead of being embarrassed by our former beliefs Rebecca thinks it is important to have compassion for and interest in what we used to believe and why we believed it. Instead of feeling shame for having been wrong, we should be proud that we had the courage to overturn beliefs that proved to be wrong.

In this talk Rebecca will discuss who she was before, and after she ‘became reasonable’ and overturn the myth that there is such a thing as ‘perfectly reasonable’ we are all, after all, a work in progress.

Rebecca is passionate about skeptical education because she has found the tools of skepticism to be profoundly empowering. Learning to think clearly has made her safer, more confident and happier. Drawing on her experience as a skeptical educator and comic book artist she will present some ideas that will help you improve your critical thinking skills and the way you think about how you think.

Thursday 31st May – Dr Jess Spurrell: Frozen Aliens and Superpowers

Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry St. 7.00 for 7.30pm

Cryogenics typically works 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 to 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…

About Jess

Jess Spurrell has a PhD in Cryogenic Engineering & Superconductivity which is almost entirely unrelated to her MEng degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering with European Studies (when studying rocket science, why not do it in French for a year!).

She has given over 40 talks, workshops and demonstrations around the UK in schools and colleges plus at Winchester and Brighton Science festivals, Science Show-off, Bright Club Southampton, Researchers’ Café, The Science Room @ the Art House, Pint of Science, U3A, Café Scis, Skeptics and more.

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.

Thursday 26th April – Dr Kat Arney: “Everything you know about genetics is wrong”

Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry St. 7.00 for 7.30pm

Many of us learn about genetics in school starting with Mendel and his pea plants. We learn that one gene is linked to one trait, and one gene fault causes one disease. But the recent revolution in DNA sequencing is revealing that it’s much more complicated. People are not peas – and even peas are not peas!
From strange patterns of inheritance to real life genetic superheroes living amongst us, whose DNA provides them with resilience against serious illnesses, science writer and broadcaster Dr Kat Arney explains what we do and don’t know about how our genes work.

About Kat

Dr Kat Arney holds a degree in natural sciences and a PhD in developmental biology from Cambridge University, followed by a post-doc at Imperial College, London.

For her day-job Kat is a professional science communicator, media spokesperson, award-winning blogger, podcaster and general comms dogsbody for Cancer Research UK. She counts among her achievements saying the word “boobs” and discussing oral sex on the Today programme, the infamous “drink it down your face” interview, and likening part of the cell division machinery to something out of Star Wars.

Thursday 29th March – Dr Michael Brooks “The Quantum Astrologer’s Handbook”

Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry St. 7.00 for 7.30pm

Michael Brooks resurrects the extraordinary story of Jerome Cardano. This 16th century Renaissance Italian was a gambler who invented the theory of probability, an astrologer to popes and emperors who taught the public how to map the heavens, a doctor consulted by kings, archbishops and senators, a mathematician who discovered the secrets of imaginary numbers – and a victim of the Inquisition whose punishment was to disappear from history.

In this talk, Brooks will tell the forgotten story of Cardano’s life, and trace the astrologer’s legacy all the way to the frontiers of modern physics, uncovering some extraordinary insights along the way.

Michael Brooks, who holds a PhD in quantum physics, is an author, journalist and broadcaster. He is a consultant at New Scientist, a magazine with over three quarters of a million readers worldwide,and writes a weekly column for the New Statesman. He is the author of At The Edge of Uncertainty, The Secret Anarchy of Science and the bestselling non-fiction title 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense. His writing has also appeared in the Guardian, the Independent, the Observer, the Times Higher Education, the Philadelphia Inquirer and many other newspapers and magazines. He has lectured at various places, including New York University, The American Museum of Natural History and Cambridge University.

His website is here.

Thursday 22nd February – Dr Richard M Crowder: Robotics and Ethics: Robots + AI = Disruption

Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry St. 7.00 for 7.30pm

Hardly a day goes by without the publication of a story in the press informing us that by 2030 over 30% of UK jobs could be replaced by robotic systems. Historically the introduction of technology has enhanced the experience of the workforce. The introduction of advanced robotics however is associated with the workforce polarization into either high-skilled, highly-paid or low-skilled, poorly-paid employment with the loss of mid-skilled jobs. The presentation will go behind the hype and look at the current state of robotic systems, and how its integration with artificial intelligence has led to this situation.

In the presentation Dr Crowder will discuss the social, ethical and technical challenges of current work in robotics, illustrated by systems that he has developed.

Richard’s Bio

Richard Crowder was born in Macclesfield Cheshire and received his BSc and PhD in Engineering from the University of Leicester. He joined the academic staff of the University of Southampton in 1982, and following retirement in 2017, he is currently a visiting fellow. During his time at Southampton he was in the Department of Electronics and Computer Science, undertaking research into robotics and the sociotechnical aspects of engineering design. He is the author of over 140 academic papers and two books in these field.

Thursday 25th January – Andrew Copson: Secularism:politics, religion, and freedom

Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry St. 7.00 for 7.30pm

Secularism is an increasingly hot topic in public, political, and religious debate across the globe. It is embodied in the conflict between secular republics – from the US to India – and the challenges they face from resurgent religious identity politics; in the challenges faced by religious states like those of the Arab world from insurgent secularists; and in states like China where calls for freedom of belief are challenging a state-imposed non-religious worldview.

In his new book, Andrew tells the story of secularism, taking in momentous episodes in world history, such as the great transition of Europe from religious orthodoxy to pluralism, the global struggle for human rights and democracy, and the origins of modernity.

Andrew’s bio

Andrew is Chief Executive of Humanists UK (formerly the British Humanist Association). He became Chief Executive in 2010 after five years coordinating Humanists UK’s education and public affairs work. Andrew is also President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU).

Together with A C Grayling, Andrew edited the Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Humanism (2015). His new book, Secularism: Politics, Religion, and Freedom, was published in September 2017 by Oxford University Press. His writing on humanist and secularist issues has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, and New Statesman as well as in various journals.

Andrew has represented Humanists UK and the humanist movement extensively in national news including on BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Sky, as well as on programmes such as Newsnight, The Daily Politics, the Today programme, Sunday Morning Live, and The Big Questions.

Andrew’s website can be found here.

Thursday, 14th December – Dead Talks – celebrating ludicrous ideas of the past

Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry St. 7.00 for 7.30pm

An evening celebrating the laughable and ludicrous ideas of the past.

Join us as we explore the notions that have fallen by the wayside of science, history and fringe thought. Because one day, your ideas may be there too.

Expanding Earth
Theory Logicism
The Planet Vulcan
The Four Humours
Is More Better?

And more …

Speakers from Southampton Bright Club and Winchester Skeptics, led by comedian and producer Rachel Wheeley.

https://showofftalentfactory.wordpress.com/portfolio/rachel-wheeley/

from Science Showoff Talent Factory

Thursday, 30 November – Jonathan M.S. Pearce – Do we have free will?

Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry St. 7.00 for 7.30pm

This talk is a fine introduction into the age-old philosophical debate as to whether we have free will, or whether we live determined lives.

Pearce approaches the subject in a lively manner, explaining terms clearly and using anecdotes to break down some of the heavier philosophy so that it is available to the popular audience. Now that we are understanding our genetic heritage and our neurology better, can we account for all our characteristics and decisions? The author also looks at how theories of free will and determinism integrate with religion, particularly Christianity. If we live under the illusion of free will, do religions need reassessing? How does free will work when God knows what we are doing in advance? Does God have free will? How does prophecy interfere with free will? How is our justice system affected if we know exactly why people commit crimes?

These and other crucial questions are investigated with a deft touch and uses recent and important scientific findings to support the thesis supplying a valuable overview to the subject.

Jonathan M.S. Pearce is a teacher from south Hampshire, UK, who has dedicated many years to studying all manner of things philosophical and theological. Having studied for a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Wales, TSD, he also holds a degree from the University of Leeds, and a PGCE from the University of St Mary’s, Twickenham. As a founder member of the Tippling Philosophers, a friendly group of disparate believers and non-believers (and sort-of believers) based in Hampshire, he is a big advocate of casual philosophy groups meeting over pints of good ale. He lives with his partner (and twin boys) and wonders how she puts up with him.