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    Archive for the 'Maths and Physical Sciences' Category

    Launching a citizen science paper at the League of European Research Universities

    By Guest Blogger, on 7 December 2016

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    Written by Alice Sheppard – Community Manager, UCL ExCiteS

    A little over a year ago, many academics and I – not, then, an academic, but a long-time citizen science volunteer – gathered in Zurich for a day of presentations and panels to discuss the idea of creating a set of standards and recommendations for citizen science across and beyond Europe.

    Should citizen science have policies and guidelines, or would this be too prescriptive or restrictive? What would ensure that everyone, and science itself, benefitted?

    The conference organisers spent the next several months writing a paper of guidelines for researchers and policies for universities wishing to engage in citizen science, which they launched this year’s event in Brussels. I have since started working at UCL, and I was asked to introduce citizen science as a concept, from the perspective of both a volunteer and an academic.

    Katrien Maes and Daniel Wyler presented the paper, ‘Citizen science at universities’. Citizen science, an activity where a person not in an academic institution contributes their time to scientific activities, is not new.

    Renaissance science was mostly practised by wealthy “gentlemen scientists” (whose wives and other nearby women were often unacknowledged contributors!), and Charles Darwin corresponded with thousands of citizens who recorded aspects of nature around them.

    mulitple citizen science projects slide

    But in the digital age citizen science is undergoing a revival. There is huge new potential for communication between scientists and the public and for data collection and analysis.

    Therefore, the paper states, it is important to do three things: citizen science practitioners should collaborate and share best practices; we should create platforms that support a wide variety of citizen science projects, so as to create more public awareness and increase opportunities; and we should not treat citizen scientists simply as agents to get the simple but lengthy tasks done, but to involve them at all stages of the research process, from beginnings to publication.

    I was pleased to see advice to use open science and to plan properly for substantial community management. This means not treating citizen scientists as colleagues, taking into account adequate communication with them, tracking not only what they are doing but also their diversity and numbers, and of course properly acknowledging their work.

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    UCL in the Middle East: crossing cultures

    By Guest Blogger, on 21 September 2016

    pencil-iconWritten by Sophie Vinter, Global Engagement Communications Officer

    “When we talk about the Middle East we’re talking about many places and very different contexts – what goes for Qatar is not the same as for a refugee camp in Syria.”

    The panel of the inaugural ‘UCL in the Middle East’ event nodded in agreement at the words of Dr Seth Anziska (UCL Hebrew and Jewish Studies), who was joining in a lively discussion by Skype from the USA.

    Jonathan Dale (right) talks with attendees at UCL in the Middle East

    Jonathan Dale (right) talks with attendees at UCL in the Middle East

    Focusing on a range of contemporary issues – ranging from urban development and cultural heritage to healthcare and education – ‘UCL in the Middle East’ was the second regional-specific event that had been organised by Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu, Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa & the Middle East) and the Global Engagement Office. The first event, Knowledge Africa, took place in June.

    Open to academics and professional services staff from around the university, these events have offered the opportunity to hear from a range of speakers, network and take part in panel discussions to share ideas and learn more about UCL’s collaborations in a specific area of the world.

    Questions from the audience encouraged thought-provoking debate on some hot topics in the Middle East, including the balance of encouraging entrepreneurship while also allowing for intellectual property ownership and the idea of post-conflict ‘interventionism’.

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    Leading researchers debate survival to 22nd century at It’s All Academic Campaign launch

    By Guest Blogger, on 16 September 2016

    pencil-icon Written by Abigail Smith, Head of Supporter Communications – Office of the Vice-Provost (Development)

    Some of UCL’s leading academics joined together last night for a public event to answer the question “How Will Society Survive to the 22nd Century?” at the launch of It’s All Academic – UCL’s biggest ever philanthropic giving campaign.

    With a target of £600m, the Campaign aims to raise more money and engage more people with UCL and our work than ever before.

    UCL President & Provost Michael Arthur announces the Campaign total

    UCL President & Provost Michael Arthur announces the Campaign total

    The launch event brought nearly 1,000 people to UCL’s Logan Hall to hear what the future might hold from a great line up of speakers, chaired by ITN Economics Editor and UCL alumna and honorary professor Noreena Hertz.

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    Lunch Hour Lecture: From gases to gloops – instabilities in fluids

    By Thomas Hughes, on 25 February 2016

    Gases, gloops, waves and cloud formations: Dr Helen Wilson (UCL Mathematics) helped us explore the mathematical explanation for such instabilities in fluids in this Lunch Hour Lecture.

    Waves and drips: instabilities in nature

    Instabilities in fluids can be caused by a myriad of different factors.  Dr Wilson talked us through a number of common instabilities that we can see in our everyday lives.

    Waves and some cloud formations for example are caused by shear. This is the idea of two or more streams moving at different speeds or directions. This is called the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability and creates the familiar wave shapes as the streams push in different directions.

    Some natural instabilities are caused by density. Pour a dense, gloopy fluid into a less dense fluid and through additional factors such as gravity, the denser fluid will move through the less dense fluid. This is called the Rayleigh-Taylor instability (see image).

    Rayleigh-Taylor Instability via Wikimedia Commons

    Rayleigh Taylor Instability via Wikimedia Commons

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