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Ha! No listings for you this week. Surely you’ve got better things to do in the Christmas period than sit in dusty old lecture theatres?
But science never sleeps, and (it seems at the moment) neither do we. So, as a special Christmas treat, we decided to interview the inkycircus girls, custodians of London’s premier science blog, fresh from their star turn on Five Live.
Please introduce yourselves in one sentence each. No semi-colons!
I am Anna (middle), a former New Scientist writer and currently a chic geek lady of inkycircus
I am Katie (right), BBC researcher by day, blogger by night.
And I am Anne (left), freelance science journalist extraordinaire and creative guru behind inkycircus.
Tell us a bit about inkyCircus and why you're doing it.
We originally began inkycircus to document the Herculean effort of starting a real print science magazine. A real print science magazine targeted at women. But it morphed into a science news and opinions site and provides us with a much needed creative outlet while we work out the money side of publishing. We still include the occasional update about our own adventures, but these days inkycircus is more about the ideas, research, drugs, foods, fads, politics, gadgets and gizmos that change our lives, make us smile, make us angry or do all three. It is a blog where we can share our passion for science and also extend its definition beyond the lab coat and glasses we're all so used to. We talk straight, don't use jargon and never write about anything you'd need a degree to understand. Oh, and it's really fun.
We know you ‘don't have an explanation for the name’, but we're obliged to ask. Do you have an explanation for the name?
Well..everything obvious was gone. Or so saccharine it made us ill (nerdalicious, sciencegirl, etc.) so we went for a more abstract name. Anne came up with inkycircus. Anna thought it sounded nice. Katie thought it sounded funny. Anne gave Katie two weeks to think of something better. She couldn't. Done.
Is it because InkyCircus is an anagram of 'Cry sci in UK'? (Cos you're like the town cryers of science.)
No. And you've obviously been thinking about it too hard.
How are the plans for the ‘proper’ magazine going?
Slower than we thought. Traditional magazine launches take a lot of money. We are in the process of trying to acquire said lot of money, but we are also trying to figure out how to use the web to launch on a smaller, non-newsstand scale. We have to be business people and not journalists, so it's a steep learning curve. Inkycircus (no, it will not be the name of the magazine) is giving us some great feedback about the kinds of topics and ideas our readers find interesting, along with honing the overall tone of the magazine. But it is going well in the sense that people understand and like our concept – a smart, fun, populous science publication that slants ever-so towards topics that generally appeal to women, which include health, sex, pyschology, medical research, safety, food, natural history and environmental issues. Plus our basic gut feeling of what most women identify and connect to.
Interview continues after the jump...
Who inspires you as a science communicator?
Stepping aside the awkward title of ‘science communicator’ there are lots of people out there who work in the science and not-so-science media industry who we love: Alom Shah at Pioneer TV, Olivia Judson (aka Dr. Titania), Beaker and Dr. Bunsen, David Attenborough, Simon Singh, Richard Wiseman, Joss Whedon — creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Serenity and of our favourite dudes, the evil nerd trio. All the people in and behind CSI and the new ‘math is cool’ TV show Numbers. Film director Werner Herzog, especially for his recent movies ‘White Diamond’ and ‘Grizzly Man’, Mark Lewis, also a film director, for his hilarious and wonderful ‘Natural Life History of the Chicken’ and ‘Cane Toads: An Unnatural History’. David Doubilet, an amazing underwater photographer, ABC Australia and their fab fab Doctor Carl. Bonus points also go to whoever edits the science/health blips in Grazia magazine and any celebrity who drives a Prius, such as Cameron Diaz (because man, are they unattractive).
If you were mad Baron von Inkycircus and you could create one crazy invention, what would it be?
A mobile phone/blackberry type thing, that acts as a vending machine (ala Star Trek) and teleporter. But it looks like a lovely, if slightly hefty, Paloma Picasso bracelet.
What's the best London-based science event you've attended?
We went to an art and craft inspired ‘Get to know your own brain’ evening at the Dana Centre, sponsored by the Medical Research Council. There was wine, watercolours and many, many abstract interpretations of neurons. Need we say more? But Simon Singh’s Theatre of Science was just about as fantastic as the science entertainment industry has ever been.
And the general London stuff…
Favourite bar or restaurant?
Lemonia in Primrose Hill, Abeno Too near Leicester Square, Gallipoli on Upper Street (because you get to dance to Turkish disco music ON YOUR TABLE when it's your birthday), Al’s Bar in Exmouth Market and that really great tiny Chinese bakery off Gerrard Street.
Have you ever been sick on the Tube?
Yes (Katie - school trip to British Museum aged 10), and nearly (Anne - but she managed to get off at Victoria station and make it to the toilets).
What advice would you give Ken Livingstone?
Make some goddamn bike lanes that go for more than one block. Do away with zebra crossings and design better crosswalks linked to traffic lights. The North American in Anna wants to blow up a small percentage of London so that we can make some straight streets that go somewhere, and go somewhere fast. Katie wants Ken to stop farting around and spend $10 billion on the Tube, because it's embarrassing already. She would also like him to take out the speed bumps. EACH AND EVERY ONE. Or at least replace them with those ‘smart’ speed bumps that disappear if you are driving the speed limit.
What London place or thing would you declare a landmark?
Everywhere with free Wi-Fi, to be marked by a tasteful orange plaque.
The world is ending in 24 hours. How would you spend your last day in London?
We'd barricade ourselves in a river-view penthouse at the Savoy with all our friends and family, having travelled there on a private hire Routemaster bus, picking up supplies from every stall at Harrods’ Food Hall on the way. We’d also be swathed in delicious indie clothes from Spitalfields Market and would have purchased (or looted) copious amounts of gorgeous flower arrangements from Covent Garden. Once arrived we'd play cards and drink gin/vodka martinis until it was all over. The end.