Cogito Ergo Summary: Your Weekly Science Listings

By M@ Last edited 154 months ago
Cogito Ergo Summary: Your Weekly Science Listings

These listings appear every Wednesday. If you want to let us know about any upcoming science or technology events, you can contact us on

No ‘Event of the Week’ in today’s listings. Sorry. Two reasons. (1) Nothing really catches the eye this week (the big event - Richard Dawkins talking about The Selfish Gene 30 Years On - is sold out). (2) This Londonista is getting married in a few days and, frankly, has other things on the mind.

With regards to the latter reason, we have some special guest bloggers lined up to write the Cogito over the next few weeks. Inkycircus, those self-styled girls of nerdom (or should that be nerds of girldom?) have offered their services while Londonist basks in Caribbean honeymoon bliss. So, please, make them feel welcome.

But first, let’s round up this week’s talks. The Dana Centre has just two events over the next week, starting with Deep Brain Stimulation tonight. This remarkable new branch of brain surgery involves imbedding a small electrode deep in the brain and feeding it short electrical pulses from a generator implanted in the chest (see pic). All sounds very Darth Vader, but the success stories are testament to its promise. One of the speakers is Mike Robins, an early recipient of the device, which has helped him control his Parkinson’s. The treatment may also be effective for an impressive variety of disorders, including depression and OCD. The second Dana event, tomorrow, also concerns health care. A group of clinicians, campaigners and scientists discuss the issue of patient choice in medicine.

Another evening talk takes place at the Royal Society tonight. Surfactants, emulsions and foams looks at, well, you can probably guess. Why is this important or interesting? Well, one of the applications mentioned is mopping up oil spills. Particularly useful this week.

While the major venues take a bit of a snooze, the Natural History Museum is pumping out talks like an overstimulated ion channel. We’re offered a headline debate on climate change tomorrow, followed by a look at the causes of ‘wild weather’ on Friday. The latter talk is presented by occasional TV weatherman Alex Hill (nuts, we were hoping for “Freakin” Alex Deakin). Saturday brings seaweed, and a look at its many uses (including fertilisers, trendy foods, and mildly amusing seaside japery). On Sunday, there’s a discussion about spiders (unfortunately, no webcast). Monday’s talk is rather imaginative. In a regular slot, one of the museum’s staff is asked to nominate his or her three favourite items from the vast collections. This week, the mammal curator is in the hot seat for ‘desert island specimens’. It really is as exciting as it sounds. Then, on Tuesday, Fossil Replicas takes a look at how to fake a femur and counterfeit a cranium - skills needed to construct many of the ‘skeletons’ on display at the museum.

A science talk in a pub? Why, that sounds like Londonist's perfect night out. Raise a toast, then, to Rob Lyons - of the dangerously competent Spiked website - in the Old King's Head, Borough High Street, tomorrow night. He doesn't like media scare stories about scientific issues:

[we must] re-establish faith in humanity, against doomsayers who say that humans are feeble to cope with change, and those who go further and believe that humans are actually the biggest problem the world faces.

If that sounds like your kind of thinking, we can highly recommend Dick Taverne's rather overlooked book, the March of Unreason, which deftly demolishes much of the guff surrounding GM and organic foods, globalisation, complementary medicine and other topics where sentiments often get in the way of rationality. Should be out in paperback soon.

Finally, a few techy events you might be intrerested in. Tomorrow, Igor Aleksander will be using the delightful word 'qualia' quite a bit, as he gives another talk on the nature of conciousness and how we can model it. Perhaps he should have trained his computer to give the presentation, to demonstrate the current state of the art. Then, for the really hardcore nerds, there's Dorkfest ("people doing strange things with electricity"), running over the weekend.

Previous events have seen cybernetic parrot sausages, megavolt destruct-o-trons, criminal robots and clocks that tell the time from prawn cocktail decay.

Who says British invention is dead?

When and Where?

Surfactants, emulsions and foams, 6.30, Wednesday, Royal Society, FREE

Deep Brain Stimulation, 7.00, Wednesday, Dana Centre, FREE

Conscious Machines?, 6.30, Thursday, Imperial College, cost unknown

Skeptics in the Pub: Rob Lyons, 7.00, Thursday, Old King's Head, FREE

Should We Have More Say in Our Treatment?, 7.00, Thursday, Dana Centre, FREE

Dorkfest, 6-12 and 1-6, Saturday and Sunday, Limehouse Town Hall, FREE

All Natural History Museum events take place at 2.30 on the days mentioned.

Last Updated 15 March 2006