Cogito Ergo Summary: Your Weekly Science Listings

By M@ Last edited 155 months ago
Cogito Ergo Summary: Your Weekly Science Listings
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These listings appear every Wednesday. If you want to let us know about any upcoming science or technology events, you can contact us on

Event of the Week

How To Grow Trees, at Gresham College

Wikipedia has an amusingly impenetrable outlook when it comes to technical matters. It’s as though the wikislaves who lace it together are trying to out-jargon each other. While no-doubt correct, their definitions are of use to nobody but those who already understand. A tree diagram, we’re told, is ‘an acyclic connected Feynman diagram’.

“[it] corresponds to the results obtained from classical physics in which the effects of quantum mechanics are ignored. One does not need to perform any integrals to calculate a tree diagram.”

It took at least seven scribes to write that peach of insight. Fortunately, it needs just one Gresham professor to do a much better job (we hope). Geometer Robin Wilson has a free lunchtime lecture lined up today, in which we’ll hopefully get closer to the root of the matter:

Tree diagrams arise in many contexts, from family trees to chemical molecules, electrical networks, the design of canals and the bracing of frameworks. We describe these examples and others from the allied subject of graph theory, and show you how you can cope with instant insanity.

If you still have trouble seeing the woods for the trees, there’s a repeat performance in the evening.


If you’ve never really understood modern art then, from today, you can not really understand it at a whole new level. Lauderdale House (Highgate Hill) plays host to ‘the world’s most beautiful equations’, as photographed by Justin Mullins. We’d love to go along and eavesdrop on the pretentious comments offered in that gallery.

Also today, a Dana Centre favourite. If we may be allowed to talk like Alan Partridge for a second, the hot air blowing over climate change is like a glacier of fiction melting into a river of fact. Whose barometer should we use? Leading experts discuss the problem. On a related theme, Dana present one of their popular ‘Pub Guides’ to energy tomorrow. This is very much a hands-on event, where you get to ‘build contraptions that may or may not be efficient’. Aimed at the ‘science-shy’, these events are described as ‘ideal for causing chaos in the kitchen at parties’.

A comment from Mags last week made us realise that we’ve been woefully neglecting the Natural History Museum in these listings. Each week, The NHM’s Darwin Centre puts on a series of free daytime talks accessible to all. Over the next few days, there are four to see. The first, tomorrow, takes a look something the Natural History Museum know quite a bit about: how to make fake fossil bones. Lorraine Cornish explains why the museum uses fake skeletons in most of their displays.

While the NHM’s bones may be less than you think, the Friday lecture will discuss how bananas are much more than you think. 'Discover the history and medicinal uses of this common fruit and learn how every part can be put to good use.'

Next week, the NHM ride the Chinese New Year wave with a brace of topical tales. On Monday, an unwelcome intruder. We’ve commented before on the threat to native wildlife posed by the Chinese Mitten Crab. Find out the latest data, and what’s being done to limit the spread of these menacing crustaceans. Finally, on Tuesday, more dinosaur fun, with a look at important palaeontological finds in Asia. The original Chinese dragons.

When and Where?

World’s most beautiful equations, from Today, Lauderdale House, FREE

How to grow trees, Today, 1pm and 6pm, Gresham College, FREE

Climate Change: Fact from fiction, Tonight, 7.00, Dana Centre, FREE

The Dana Pub Guide to: Energy, Thursday, 7.00, Dana Centre, FREE

Fossil Replicas, Thursday, 2.30, NHM, FREE

Bananas: More Than A Mouthful, Friday, 2.30, NHM, FREE

Alien Invaders: Chinese Mitten Crabs, Monday, 2.30, NHM, FREE

Chinese Dinosaurs, Tuesday, 2.30, NHM, FREE

Last Updated 01 February 2006