davegodfrey: Coelacanth (Science)
Readers may have noticed that I have a bit of a thing for science communication. When its done well its beautiful to watch. Some scientists have a real flair for presentation (admittedly some don't- being an educator is hard.) But I haven't met a scientist yet who hasn't enjoyed talking to people about the research they do and why they do it.

Its one of the reasons I love UCL's "Lunch Hour Lectures" series (available on YouTube), the NHM's "Nature Live" programme of short talks,(which sadly aren't made available on the web these days), and the RI Christmas Lectures for the younger viewers.

The Vega Science Trust has put a whole load of science videos up on the web. There's lectures from the RI by Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, about how weird pulsars are (complete with the sort of demonstrations I recall from the RI Christmas Lectures of my youth), Richard Feynmann giving the Douglas Robb Lectures at the University of Auckland, and interviews with all sorts of Nobel Laureates and other scientists.

TV? Who needs one.
davegodfrey: Coelacanth (Science)
Steampunk hits Auntie!

Anyone fancy a trip to Oxford?

Although the fact they warned us that "The gun in the video is fictional and should not be copied"is a little excessive, Its a steam-powered pistol that shoots cubes at aliens. Everyone knows the best bullets for aliens are hexagonal!
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
So I might as well mention that I was nominated for an award, didn't win, but was a runner up.

In case you didn't know it was National Volunteers Week this week. I was a runner-up in the "Long Service" award (and by extension the "Best Team Contribution" category as I've just started as a Learning Volunteer), and got to go to HMS Belfast, receive a rather nice certificate, and was generally made to feel like volunteering is a good thing, and I'm not barking mad for sticking at it for this long.

The winner of the Long Service award was Jean Holder, who has been working for The Women's Library for 17 years, and is quite clearly a worthy winner. Highly commended entries were Peter Homon, with 15 years service at the Museum of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, and Mary Speers who has been working at the Estorick Collection for nearly 10 years, and is still going strong at the age of 90. As I commented to the other NHM people I was probably the youngest candidate for that award!

The team award was won by the Markfield Beam Engine and Museum, who have been restoring the engine into near working order over the past few years and have seen it become the focus of part of the Borough of Haringey's plans to regenerate Markfield Park. According to their website they hope to re-open in Summer 2009 with a programme of open days and steam days. Until now I didn't know this place existed on my doorstep, and I'm looking forward to it reopening. I reckon we could get a little steampunk pilgrimage down there without too much difficulty. Anyone interested?

davegodfrey: Hello Cthulhu! (Cthulhu!)
...be sure to bring your humongous mecha. Because the squid are invading.

Did we mention the sky-fortress?

Or the space cannon that makes Torchwood look like a peashooter?

H/T to Pharyngula and Pink Tentacle
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
Was really very good, but it did confirm my personal dislike for Ricky Gervais. However the host, Robin Ince was very, very good, with his Hannah-Barbera Feynman impressions, and humorous rants about Anne Coulter, Stephen Green and all the other people who provide a reason for the "New Atheists" to be so vocal. Plus he gave a shout-out to Tycho Brahe. Who doesn't get talked about nearly often enough at comedy gigs.

There were a couple of acts that didn't quite work for me. Mostly it was the musical numbers. Which I'm sure were a matter of personal taste. I'm not really sure that the one-man Beach Boys parody quite fitted.

The Carl Sagan snippets were very well chosen. I never watched Cosmos when I was a child. I don't think they repeated it much in the 1980s, unlike the ubiquitous deity that is Sir David A. But on the basis of those few minutes I can understand why he was so popular with so many people. (And then the Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra played a very silly version of Thus Sprach Zarathustra).

Simon Singh was good, and it was nice to hear his Katie Melua rewrite- as sung by the lass herself. I remember hearing it on the Today programme a few years back.

I can understand why Dawkins chose the pieces he did, and it reminded me that I still haven't got a copy of Unweaving the Rainbow. Though if he'd spent the entire time talking about Fig Wasps that would have been equally enjoyable.

Stewart Lee was very good too. I will never hear the "dance as ancient as time" cliche in quite the same way.

Natalie Haynes was rather funny, and I shall have to look out for her work in future.

Ben Goldacre's polemic was fantastic. His columns are always worth reading, and he brings the same mix of wry humour and outrage at the actions of people like Matthias Rath to his spoken word stuff too, and provided a reminder that pseudoscience is not harmless.

Tim Minchin rounded off the evening with a brilliant beat poem. Someone else I shall have to look out for in future.

Sadly I couldn't find someone to take up the spare ticket I ended up having. But at least this time I remembered I was supposed to be at a gig. ;)

New Island

Nov. 12th, 2006 10:48 am
davegodfrey: Cyberman: The Future is Shiny (Shiny)
Just off the coast of Tonga, a new volcanic island has appeared. Discovered by the crew of the Maiken, which has its own blog.

Yesterday we saw the birth of an island, most likely we were the first humans to see the new creation. We have some pictures, but they will have to wait until we have a chance to upload them. So you might have heard about the sailor superstition that you should "never leave on a Friday". Well, we did and the sea turned to stone, it is hard to get a stronger sign than that. It sounds like a bad joke, but just wait until you see the pictures. Floating stones none the less. When you pick them up, it is easy to see that they are really just volcanic ash that compressed into pumice stone.

Check the blog link for photographs. How cool is that?


davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
The Evil Atheist Your Mother Warned You About

November 2013

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