The Science Café is a chance to informally explore the latest ideas in science and technology and debate the issues. All are welcome.

10th October: Are we living in a “post-truth” era?

Liam Shaw, Ask for Evidence

Every day we hear claims about health, politics, and society: how to fix education, cut crime, improve our health, or save the environment. Some of these claims are based on reliable evidence. Many are not.

Ask for Evidence is a public campaign set up by Sense About Science that helps people request for themselves the evidence behind news stories, marketing claims and political policies. The campaign isn’t about leading an ‘evidence-based life’; it is about holding powerful figures to account to avoid being misled on important issues. It is making sure that a discussion of the evidence is happening when it really matters.

This talk will be about the background to the campaign, successes we’ve had so far, and the (many!) challenges we still face.

Sense about Science is an independent campaigning charity that challenges the misrepresentation of science and evidence in public life. Founded in 2001, it is run by a small team working with thousands of supporters, from world-leading researchers to community groups.

Liam Shaw is a computational biology PhD student at UCL. He has been involved with Sense about Science since Autumn 2015, when he became an ambassador for the Ask for Evidence campaign.

Link: Ask for Evidence

September 12th: Worms in Space (doing a biology experiment in space)

Professor Nate Szewczyk, Nottingham University

The UK has recently had its first British sponsored Astronaut. A result of this is that British scientists can now also lead experiments on the International Space Station (ISS). I have done biology experiments in space for roughly 10 years and have recently been selected to run a British sponsored experiment onboard the ISS. I will briefly discuss why we do biology experiments on worms in space, explain the logistics of how an experiment is conducted, discuss what we’ve learned about muscle changes in space, and say a little bit about sending worms to other planets.

Link: Nate Szewczyk

July 11th. Understanding Epilepsy: from Moon Gods and evil spirits to brain tissue in a dish

Roland Jones, Pharmacy and Pharmacology, University of Bath

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders an has been know to afflict human beings throughout most of recorded history. It is only over the last 150 years that our understanding of its nature has shifted from the work of supernatural powers to an inorganic disturbance of brain function, and in I will briefly trace the history of the disorder and it’s treatment. I will also discuss how much of our recent knowledge of epilepsy has depended research on using animal models of the disorder, but how we are moving towards the use of living human brain tissue to gain a more detailed understanding of causes in man.

Link: Roland Jones