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Finding out more about breast cancer treatment

news editor30 October 2012

By guest blogger Danielle Vincent, Communications Officer at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

Las tnight members of the public were given the opportunity to learn more about the latest breast cancer research and treatments being pioneered by UCL and the Royal Free Hospital.

About 120 people attended a breast cancer public engagement event at the Royal Free to mark breast cancer awareness month.

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Where are they? Are we alone? And when will we know?

Rupert P Cole7 September 2012

“Dan?  Dan?  Dan? Dan? DAN? DAN? DAN? …” – Alan Partridge

The search for extra-terrestrial life isn’t exactly a success story. But our incessant desire to find some drives us to look. Wednesday night, a bunch of us crammed into Aberdeen’s Waterstones to hear UCL’s space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock speak on the current chances of there being life “out there.”

Maggie’s main job in science has been in engineering satellites and telescopes – a talent she cultivated very early in her life. When she was 14 she built her own telescope, which was 150mm in diameter.

Besides The Clangers, she told us, this was her first real contact with space. Her enthusiasm and curiosity is inspiring. Recently awarded an MBE for her work in science communication, one of her outreach schemes takes school children on “Tours of the Universe”.

Luckily for us, then, our guide in our search for alien life had seen the universe, knew the sights, and even the lingo.

I see myself as a translator, removing the jargon and highlighting the wonder– she remarked in 2006, regarding her role as a recipient of the Science and Society Fellowship she holds at UCL.

Looking for life in the universe is, I imagine, a pretty arduous task. Since it’s a fairly big area to cover (billions of light-years), and getting bigger all the time, we might reasonably pose the question: where to start? (more…)

Dissection, Darwin, Dawkins and Dr Death: An interview with Simon Watt

Rupert P Cole6 September 2012

Simon Watt is an evolutionary biologist and all-round expert in science “edutainment”. I caught up with Simon at the British Science Festival. (You can find audio from the interview at the bottom of this post).

Simon gave two talks at the festival. In “Dissections Uncut,” he ran through some of the material that didn’t make the final edit of Channel 4’s Inside Nature’s Giants – a series he co-presented.

My personal highlight was the exploding whale video. Yes, exploding. I should clarify that in Simon’s footage no dynamite was used (though this did happen once in Oregan – worth a google). Rather, when whales decompose, gas inside builds up, which can then result in an eruption of organs.

Let’s talk about sex
Simon’s other talk, “Sperm Warfare”, took us on a biological ride through the world of sex, from weasels to humans, and many in between. He warned us:

“At the end of the show you will probably think I’m a pervert.” (more…)

Embracing failure

Katherine Aitchison27 July 2012

Once a month, something beautiful happens in a dark room behind the Wilmington Arms pub in Islington. Now don’t let your imagination run away with you – I’m talking about Bright Club, the alternative comedy night from UCL.

On this night, researchers, academics and otherwise serious folk gather in the tiny room and, for two hours, tell silly stories and generally make fun of their chosen careers.

The event is understandably popular; tickets had sold out and I was glad that I got there early enough to grab a seat on a rickety wooden bench. By the time the metaphorical curtain went up, there were people leaning on all the walls and my bench was surrounded by those who had been further back in the queue and were forced to stand through the acts.

Each month’s gathering has a theme and the chosen topic for July was “Failure” in order to tie in with UCL’s series of Olympic-themed events, Exercise your brain. The idea being to take the edge off all the talk of winning and medals inspired by the Games by celebrating the fact that not everything always goes according to plan.

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