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Event Of The Week
Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum
Ice skating? Ice skating? By the beard of Copernicus what are we thinking, you might well enquire. Where’s the science in that? Well, we could talk about how the low sliding coefficient of friction facilitates experiments in Newtonian mechanics, or invoke the apparent centrifugal forces acting on the limbs of a pirouetting skater. But let’s just say it looks like fun, and it’s outside one of London’s great scientific institutions.
It’ll cost you, mind. A one-hour session is £11 for adults and £7 for kids (evening prices).
The rink opens today, in the gardens of the museum and runs through till 22 January (opening times). As well as the joy of skating to the backdrop of Alfred Waterhouse’s stunning brick and terracotta masterpiece you can also enjoy a Christmas fair and café bar. S'pity they couldn't move a couple of woolly mammoth skeletons outside for effect, but we suppose there'll be plenty of mega-sore-asses on the rink itself. (Geddit, geddit? Oh, nevermind.)
A couple of lectures this week update the public on two of the most pernicious and prevalent diseases afflicting the western world: stroke and diabetes. If you’ll allow us the macabre conceit of playing Top Trumps with illnesses, stroke afflicts over 20 million people worldwide each year, while diabetes sufferers number almost ten times that figure. And the situation is expected to get much worse over the next ten years. Join Profs Peter Rothwell and Charles Wolfe tonight for a discussion of stroke prevention and the eminent Pierre Potier tomorrow night for the latest on diabetes.
The Royal Institution is going crystal crazy next week. On Monday night, three scientists from the RI’s own laboratories introduce the public to the wonders of crystal structure. Why do certain natural materials, for example, snowflakes, diamonds and other gemstones, form their characteristic shapes, and can we manipulate the underlying mechanisms to make bespoke materials? The subject is further crystallised, if you’ll pardon the pun, on Tuesday, when UCL’s Paul McMillan blings to life the story of the diamond. Gem thieves may be interested to hear that ‘Samples of diamonds in their various stages/forms will be displayed in the Main Library for the audience to view both before and after the event’.
Who invented the Calculus? ponders Robin Wilson at Gresham College tonight. What is the Calculus? might be a better starting point for anyone who quit maths at GCSE level. Still, whatever your background, the old Leibniz Vs. Newton argument is a corker.
People always say Einstein was bad at maths (though he certainly knew his calculus). Pop along to the Dana Centre on Tuesday to debate which of his many great discoveries was the best. Why? We don’t know. Just do as your told.
Finally, Tuesday also presents the chance to quiz the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Sir David King FRS (check out those credentials!). In ‘Making Science Work’ Sir David will talk about what he knows best: how scientific advice is used in policy making.
Natural History Museum Ice Skating, from tonight, prices vary.
Who invented the calculus? Gresham College, tonight 6pm, FREE
Stroke – a demographic time-bomb, Royal Institution, tonight 7-8.30, £8
New Vistas on Diabetes, Royal Society, Thursday 6.30, FREE
Molecular sculpture: making crystals work for us, Royal Institution, Monday 6.30-8, £8
Making Science Work, CaSE, Monday 6.30, FREE (but book ahead)
Diamond Life, Royal Institution, Tuesday 7-8.30, £8
Einstein’s Greatest Theory, Dana Centre, Tuesday 7-8.30, FREE