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The biggest Science Showoff ever

Katherine Aitchison8 November 2012

“There are massive f***ing error bars on every adjective I’m going to use tonight.”

Those are the words every scientist wants to hear at the start of a comedy night. We like to be assured that all the jokes we’re about to hear have been properly tested and subjected to significance testing.  Of course, if the error bars are massive then the results probably aren’t significant – but we won’t go into that.

So this was Science Showoff, a monthly open mic night for scientists, science communicators, science historians or anyone else in any way connected with the scientific world to come and be funny whilst talking about what they love. It’s a monthly event which has been running for just over a year and 7November saw the biggest Showoff to date in the Bloomsbury Theatre.

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Mice People: Cultures of Science

Clare S Ryan9 March 2012

Gail Davies (UCL Geography) travels around the world looking at laboratory mice, and the scientists who study them. To find out why a geographer would be spending her life doing this, I went to hear her in conversation with Steve Cross – Head of UCL’s Public Engagement Unit (and a closet geneticist) – at the event Mice People: Cultures of Science organised as part of the Humanimals season at the UCL Grant Museum of Zoology.

Gail is a human geographer interested in how science works, both in terms of the interface between nature and culture, and the spatial aspects of science.

A big part of her work is looking at how science varies internationally. Taking an extremely broad view of science, there have been two big “science migrations”. The first was after World War II when many European scientists moved to America. The second is happening now, with a huge shift in science going towards south-east Asia.

However, scientists don’t move around the globe alone. In the case of quite a few biologists, they take their mice with them. In fact, as Gail explained, if you take away apparatus, knowledge of standard methods etc., “the international knowledge economy looks rather furry”.

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