Saturday 17 September 2011

Weekly Round-up w/e 18/09/2011

Welcome once again to the Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub round up of internet things that are collected by us to amuse or bemuse; a smorgasbord of thoughts and ideas that you can take away and mull over for a while until the next interesting thing comes along to displace them.  

This week’s blog is slightly different and it’s something we’ve been actively encouraging, a guest blog by a regular member of the Sitp audience; hi, my name is Roy, and I’ll be your skeptic sub-contractor this week right down to the end of this page. If you’re interested in contributing to any future blogs, including this one, please form an orderly queue behind me. Let’s begin - hardhats on.

I guess you’re still feeling a bit fragile after Wednesday’s incredible talk with Peter Harrison on The Science of Lucid Dreaming, so allow me to ease you slowly into the links with the most recent auto-tuned offering from the Symphony of Science - The Quantum World: A musical investigation into the nature of atoms and subatomic particles.

Picking up on a familiar face in the above video; based on the increasing number of students entering for Physics A Level, commentators are suggesting that there is now a new phenomenon called The Cox Effect, also here at The Bad Astronomer. That pesky Hadron Collider is photo-bombing everyone lately. Here it is again sneaking into shot behind popular satirist Chris Morris. We’re going to have to invent a Hadron repellent spray!

If you attend Skeptics on a regular basis you’ll have noticed that many of our audience members wear their Science heroes proudly emblazoned across their chests, myself included (a Darwin ichthys fish). Here’s some Controversy and Rock inspired T –shirt alternatives. I’m very tempted by the Teapot Tee based on Bertrand Russell's analogy.

A local story of interest is that, as part of the Great Read Initiative, Birmingham University has taken the step of buying 6,000 copies of Professor Mark Pallen’s excellent book The Rough Guide to Evolution and will be giving a copy to every new undergraduate student at the start of the academic year. Hurrah! And there will be talks. Outstanding! But the warehouse is now empty and the book could go out of print. Well we can’t have that. This is an important book and deserves to get back into circulation. Get tweeting people.

Wi-Fi is coming - Run, run for the hills

For a moment there I thought this was a picture of Miss Molly Slocombe from Are you Being Served.

News from Mumbai: The push to pass the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman, Evil Practices and Black Magic bill has not received unanimous support.

The Daily Mail is incredulous? We’re incredulous! The standard argument for crop circles is that they are too complex to have been created by humans. I’ll let Skeptobot take over from here “Every time someone makes this argument, I imagine them saying it whilst sitting in a giant metal wasp that was exploding 300million year old animal remains in order to spin 40cm blades fast enough to hover perfectly stationary in the air which allowed the photograph to be taken.” Cereologists – are we done yet?

It’s unlikely that you’ve missed this but Richard Dawkins has a new book out, aimed at a younger audience.  I’d like to give you more information here and a first impression but Amazon has let me down on the delivery. If your copy turned up on time please let us have your initial views after the post.

Get your certificates here. Follow the link to begin your journey towards an online bachelor, masters, or doctorate degree. You can complete the entire program in seconds. Ooh, there’s one for Feng Shui. I’ve recently experienced a dose of Feng in the UK workplace and it wasn’t pleasant. All I’ll say is that Post hoc ergo propter hoc carries no weight when confronted with the argument from authority; but that’s a story for another time.

Some of you, however, may feel inclined to study for one of these more unusual qualifications.

A week hasn’t gone by yet and Crispian Jago has been waving that soiled reason stick of his around again. Here he takes on performance enhancing prayer abuse. In case you haven’t noticed, last year’s excellent Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense is now gloriously interactive.

This is a first I think, a Skeptic blog with a maths question. Don’t worry; it’s only a bit of fun and just a tiny bit tasty. Complete the equation: If a pizza pie has a radius of z and a thickness of a, its volume is equal to ________. That’s AmorĂ©.

Psychic Sally's audience can also hear the voices she hears. Wonder why they had to open a window?

Something to ponder on: Over at Geeks are Sexy they ask the question: What do you want to happen to your online personality once you're gone for good?

Cells could make it possible to improve reproduction and genetic diversity for some species, possibly saving them from extinction, or to bolster the health of endangered animals in captivity. And the animals went in by two according to The Scripps Research Institute.

Taking my cues from the Mark Pallen story, Baba Brinkman, the award winning Canadian rap artist (The Rap Guide to Evolution) has created a snappy (and free) mp3 with accompanying video called Off That (Rationalist Anthem) wrapped around a Jay Z track. The 4-minute video plays out like a heavily compressed Sitp night; Ben Goldacre and Simon Singh feature: Some NSFW lyrics.

On the subject of rappers.

From Scientific American: Seeing your life pass before you and the light at the end of the tunnel, can be explained by new research on abnormal functioning of dopamine and oxygen flow

Woo trinkets abound these days, what with the Powerband, Q-Link, and magnets for your man pants. Here's another one found on E-bay that claims to reduce acidity-based ailments. Pseudo-Accessorize coming to high street near you.

Calamities of Nature is another cartoon based website promoting science, philosophy, critical thinking and … bacon – click the link for my personal favourite or immerse yourself in their huge archive. Another splendid single pane cartoon that is pretty much guaranteed to make you smile is the Dino Ark One More Theory from I liked this so much it’s now my Screensaver.

Psychic Sally told the audience members that feathers materialising is the sign a spirit is close by. What would she make of this I wonder? BBC News - Dinosaur Feather

Nobel prize-winner and Royal Society president Paul Nurse: Stamp out anti-science in US politics.

Here's a neat idea from Rebecca Watson at Skepchick: let’s start a fund for cryptozoologists to go on a basic photography course.

With Martin Poulter coming to Skeptics next month to talk about Scientology, here's this week's final link on the same topic – some of those naughty words again so cover up any little ears that may be listening. Enjoy.

Don’t forget, there’s a second helping of Skeptics this month with Mark Stevenson on the 28th with An Optimists Tour of the Future.

This week's round-up was compiled by Birmingham Skeptics regular Roy Beddowes.


Tony Ryan said...

My "The Magic of Reality" turned up this morning.

It's a large hardback of excellent physical quality. The binding is heavy, the paper is glossy and the printing is immaculate. It'd be a great gift.

It's clearly aimed at the younger audience (as promised) so is easy to read, with absolutely beautiful illustration by Dave McKean.

I will upload some pics and details to my site in a bit.

Tony Ryan said...

Here we go, some pics and initial thoughts: