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Steuart Campbell

When?
Thursday, November 21 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-35 Niddry Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1LG

Who?
Steuart Campbell

What's the talk about?

 On November 9, 1979, approximately between 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Robert Taylor, who was at the time working for the Livingston Development Corporation, parked his pickup truck at the side of a road just off the M8 motorway with the intention of examining the progress of some saplings in the forest. Being unable to access the forest by truck, Taylor and his dog made their way into the forest on foot along one of the forest paths that lead up the side of Dechmont Law.

Upon entering a clearing approximately 500 metres away from his truck, Taylor saw what he described as a large, circular object, spheroid in shape and approximately twenty feet (six metres) in diameter hovering above the forest floor. The object had a narrow rim running along its circumference with stems topped with propellers and the surface of the object seemed to be constructed from a dark metallic material which appeared transparent in places.

Wikipedia.

Steuart Campbell is a science writer and the author of four books and over 130 articles on diverse subjects, mainly investigations of one sort or another, and very many letters to the press. He is a member of the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh and the National Secular Society; he subscribes to The Freethinker and The Skeptic and co-authored an article on Patrick Moore in a recent edition of The Skeptic magazine.

Halloween Special - 31st October

When?
Thursday, October 31 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-35 Niddry Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1LG

Who?
Geoff Holder

What's the talk about?

Geoff Holder is something of an expert on ghoulies, ghosties and long-leggity beasties here in Scotland, having written a large number of books and guides on the topic.

When we invited him to talk for us, he said:

'what is the evidence?', well there's plenty of material to prove belief in witchcraft in early modern Scotland. Witchcraft cases are actually full of surprising insights into folk belief in fairies and ghosts, as well as say possible poltergeist cases.'

It should be a fascinating night.

Geoff will bring books with him for sale.

Laughing can be no Laughing matter

Elaine Miller

When?
Thursday, October 17 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-35 Niddry Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1LG

Who?
Elaine Miller

What's the talk about?

Elaine joined us on the last night of the Fringe and we're delighted to have her back with evidence-based comedy.

You’ve vaguely heard of a pelvic floor and think it’s something to do with pregnant women and leaky old ladies.

Elaine Miller is a physiotherapist, comedian and recovered incontinent. She wants to bust the taboo and introduce you to the wonders of the your pelvic floor (yep, guys, you’ve got one too) and the science of continence. She’ll share with you that being incontinent is more common than having the cold and that most cases of simple stress incontinence are curable. Using anatomical models, evidence based practice and a sense of humour she’ll teach you what your pelvic floor is, what it does, and why having a good one is smashing. Chuck in a bit of statistics, politics, economics and psychology and you’ll leave motivated to #doyerblardyexercises.

  • Gusset Grippers - #1 Weird Show, Edinburgh Fringe 2013
  • “not your average physio” – Scotsman
  • “a triumph of using humour to tackle a difficult issue” – Three Weeks
  • “Try not to be so busy you miss this show. Your knickers will thank you” - One4review

Ben Cowen

When?
Thursday, September 19 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-35 Niddry Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1LG

Who?
Ben Cowen

What's the talk about?

Speaker

Ben Cowen is a Research Fellow at the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham. Before moving to Birmingham, he studied for his MA in Psychology and Business Studies and his PhD both at the University of Edinburgh.

Talk

His talk will focus on the world of human-computer interaction, otherwise known as HCI, looking at what it is and why it is important. I’ll also be exploring the question of whether design affects our behaviour in interaction with specific reference to how the design of speech interfaces like Siri affect our language behaviours and what that can tell us about how we construct speech in general.

the truth about whales and dolphins

Dr Alison Craig

When?
Thursday, April 4 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-35 Niddry Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1LG

Who?
Dr Alison Craig

What's the talk about?

Not so friendly Flipper: The truth about whales and dolphins

Are dolphins friendly, gentle creatures that live in peaceful societies?  Are whales the spiritual, gentle giants of the oceans?  Or is there a darker side to our favourite ocean creatures?

Dr Alison Craig is a marine mammal biologist and lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University where she teaches students on a variety of courses including Animal Biology, Marine & Freshwater Biology and Environmental Biology.

Can we retcon ourselves?

Dr Amy Milton

When?
Wednesday, April 3 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-35 Niddry Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1LG

Who?
Dr Amy Milton

What's the talk about?

 By catching memories at their most vulnerable, it might be possible to rewrite our past. But should we do it? And just how close are we to a ‘forgetting pill’?

Dr Amy Milton is a University Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, and the Ferreras-Willetts Fellow in Neuroscience at Downing College, Cambridge. She researches how memories persist (and can be modified) in the brain. She is particularly interested as to whether debilitating psychiatric disorders based upon ‘maladaptive’ memories, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and drug addiction, could be treated by erasing these memories.

Should we be scared of AI?

Dr Karen Petrie

When?
Tuesday, April 2 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-35 Niddry Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1LG

Who?
Dr Karen Petrie

What's the talk about?

In the 1999 film The Matrix, one of the lead characters Morpheus tells us that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is: ‘A singular consciousness that spawned an entire race of machines’. This has lead to many people being terrified of the concept of AI.

Are they correct to be afraid?

Dr. Karen Petrie from the School of Computing at the University of Dundee, will lead us in this whistle stop tour of AI and robotics.

How will the armies of the future look?

Jamie Gallagher

When?
Thursday, March 28 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-35 Niddry Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1LG

Who?
Jamie Gallagher

What's the talk about?

 In today’s society we demand energy on the move. Phone, laptops, Mp3 and cars eat through a phenomenal amount of energy. We won’t live without these devices nor can we continue to burn fossil fuels to keep them running. Science is now looking to old and forgotten scientific phenomena to keep our world mobile and environmentally safe.

The holy grail for material scientist Jamie Gallagher is the self sustaining soldier- the self powered man in the field. Could someone marooned in a desert muster the power to radio help with little more than his own body energy? Jamie takes a look at the Pros and Cons of the latest developments in portable power. Hydrogen cars, scavenging of body heat and in shoe pressure pads and new improved batteries. Will we use our own bodies as a mobile power-station or are scientists just stalling for time with fanatical dreams?

Jamie Gallagher is a scientist, science communicator and dancer. After a PhD in thermoelectric material, he is  now working in the solid state chemistry group at the University of Glasgow. He’s won the second prize in the Royal Insitution’s UK Fame Lab contest, and sold out a show at the Cheltenham Science Festival, not to mention a string of other public events. You can find him performing in shows, working in schools, and teaching Salsa.

Professor Murdoch will pose some difficult questions, leading to a lively discussion.

 Professor Alison Murdoch

When?
Wednesday, March 27 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-35 Niddry Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1LG

Who?
Professor Alison Murdoch

What's the talk about?

 

  • What can we do to help couples who are having difficulty in conceiving?
  • What is the current research on the first few days of life, before the bundle of cells has implanted into the womb?
  • What ethical challenges do these treatments raise?
  • What laws and regulations are in place as a result?

Alison Murdoch MD FRCOG is a Professor of Reproductive Medicine and a Gynaecologist, and Head of Newcastle Fertility Centre at Newcastle University.

She established The Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, one of the leading NHS fertility centres in the UK, providing a full range of treatments for sub-fertility including IVF, sperm and egg donation.

Research in her department includes work on stem cells and on therapeutic cloning. They have developed a method o reduce the risk of transmission of mitochondrial disease to the baby, which has led to the need for new UK legislation before it could be used.

Professor Murdoch’s role within the team is principal role in the team is the ethical and regulatory issues related to embryo research and to the donation of embryos and eggs for research. Recently they have developed a technique to help prevent the transmission of mitochondrial genetic disorders from mother to child. These techniques involve taking some genetic material from a donor, and have needed new regulations before many women could be helped.

She is also a past Chair of the British Fertility Society, the national society which represents all those involved in the provision of care for the infertile patient and has been closely involved with the Department of Health and the regulators in the setting of clinical and laboratory standards. She is a member of the Nuffield Council of Bioethics and the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs.

where have we come from and where are we going?

: Dr Kat Arney

When?
Tuesday, March 26 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-35 Niddry Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1LG

Who?
: Dr Kat Arney

What's the talk about?

 Cancer has always been with us, affecting our earliest ancestors and even the dinosaurs before them. Yet it’s only in the past hundred years that we’ve made any significant steps forward in understanding this complex group of diseases. And, arguably, it’s only in the past couple of decades that we’ve made any real progress in beating it.

Since the late 70s, the genetic revolution has completely changed the way we think about cancer, and how we approach diagnosing, treating and even preventing it. Advances in technology have made it possible to read the genetic code of tumours from thousands of patients, but how is all this information going to benefit patients? And what else can we do to prevent lives being cut short by cancer?

Dr Kat Arney, Science Information Manager at Cancer Research UK, takes a look at the history of cancer research and discusses where we might be heading in the future.

Kat is a media spokesperson for the charity and writes for their award-winning Science Update blog, as well as working as a freelance science writer and broadcaster for the BBC, the Naked Scientists and more.   She also acted as production consultant for the recent documentary “The Enemy Within – 50 Years of Fighting Cancer”, presented by Vivienne Parry. [http://vimeo.com/54898062]

Changing definitions of mental health

Professor Ray Miller

When?
Thursday, March 21 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-35 Niddry Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1LG

Who?
Professor Ray Miller

What's the talk about?

 Over the years diagnosis and treatment of problems defined as mental health issues has increased markedly. Whether looking at the dramatic increase of prescribed antidepressants or the burgeoning demand for psychological therapies it seems that we are suffering more than ever from mental illness and psychological distress.

One in four people can expect to suffer mental illness in their lifetime. One in seven of the population of Scotland is currently prescribed antidepressants and there is evidence of growing identification of problems of psychosis and childhood disorders such as ADHD.

But is everything as it seems? It has been suggested that this apparent deterioration has been driven by changing socioeconomic factors such as definitions of deprivation, reductions in the availability of social support, a declining tolerance for unhappiness, increasing dependency on professional interventions as opposed to self-reliance and pressure from drug companies to sell ever more expensive medications.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is due to be published in May. Produced by the American Psychiatric Association and often regarded as the bible of mental health diagnosis, it has been criticized for becoming ever more inclusive and pathologizing everyday distress in order to satisfy the requirements of American health insurance and the pharmacology industry.

So, is everybody going mad, or do we need to rethink how we define and respond to psychological distress?

Professor Ray Miller

Retired Clinical and Health Psychologist, having worked for over 35 years in the NHS in both England and Scotland. Main area of work has been Adult Mental Health where his career started working as a nursing assistant in Leverndale Hospital in

Glasgow in 1967, not long after the introduction of antipsychotic medication and major tranquillisers saw an end to straitjackets and padded cells.

Served for many years in the British Psychological Society in a variety of roles including President in 2006-7 and retired in 2010 from the post of Professional Advisor for Psychology to NHS Lothian.

Continues to lecture as an Honorary Professor at Heriot Watt University and to be involved in a number of public and voluntary sector projects promoting psychology.

Andy Lewis

When?
Thursday, February 21 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-35 Niddry Street
Edinburgh
EH1 1LG

Who?
Andy Lewis

What's the talk about?

 With Michael Gove and the coalition approving new Steiner Schools to open under the Free School Programme, it is timely to look closely at the origins and beliefs of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the occult movement of Anthroposophy.

 

Steiner was a mystic who believed he had direct clairvoyant access to cosmic knowledge. As such he developed an esoteric belief system based on karma, reincarnation, astrology, homeopathy and gnomes. His visions gave insights into architecture, art, dance, agriculture, medicine, education, science and diet. His racial hierarchy of spiritual developmental resonated in Germany in the early 20th Century turning a personal belief into a worldwide movement.

 

Today we find hundreds of anthroposphically inspired organisations in the UK alone: everything from Steiner Schools, Biodynamic farms to banks, pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies, charities and cheese makers.

 

Andy Lewis has been trying to lift the veil on the inner secrets of the movement and will discuss how this secretive movement has direct impact on public life. He is the developer of the web site quackometer.net, which explores the pseudo-medical claims of alternative medicine web sites and their impact on society.

 

Edinburgh Skeptics in the Pub takes place on the 3rd Thursday each month in the Banshee Labyrinth.  The event starts at 7:30 sharp, with a talk for an hour or so. There’s a short break to recharge glasses followed by a Q & A session.