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When?
Monday, August 5 2013 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Dr Fritha Langford

What's the talk about?

 Producing animal products for food is a truly global industry. Food animals that provide our meat, eggs and milk are traded across borders in staggering numbers. Also, international law, consumer pressure and retailer whims can have an effect on animals raised and slaughtered in countries a long way from the eventual consumption. Farms are getting bigger and ‘sustainable intensification’ is the new buzzword in agricultural research. But what is the scientific evidence related to animal welfare in these scenarios? We will discuss the question ‘is good farm animal welfare possible in a global food chain?’ by following this framework:

 

- What is animal welfare in the farming context?
- What are the major farm animal welfare problems with international trade?
- Can the ‘global’ aspect of the food chain be a force for improving farm animal welfare?

 

In a discussion that will cover all of the main farm animal groups of chickens, pigs, dairy cattle, beef cattle and sheep (and possibly fish too), we will visit every continent and hopefully show that good animal welfare is achievable where there is join-up between scientific evidence and investment.

 

Dr Fritha Langford investigates Animal Behaviour and Welfare at SRUC – Scotland’s Rural College. Her main research interests lie in understanding animal behaviour and how animals inter-relate with production environments, both intensive and extensive. Alongside colleagues, she is involved in the development of science-based and practical approaches to on-farm welfare assessment.

 

Since 2005 she has worked with dairy cows, investigating on-farm welfare assessment. She has been involved in a project to compare the health and welfare of cows reared on organic farms with those reared on non-organic farms, and she is currently involved in a project investigating the relationships between genetics and the behavioural and physiological phenotypes of stress responses in growing pigs.

Math Campbell-Sturgess

When?
Monday, June 24 2013 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Math Campbell-Sturgess

What's the talk about?

A look into the origins and philosophies and technologies behind Bitcoin, a digital, decentralised currency. We will look at where Bitcoin is being used today, and explore the possible ramifications of widespread adoption of the currency in the future and how that might be accomplished.

 

Math Campbell-Sturgess is a 29 year old graphics designer and elected Councillor from Greenock, Inverclyde. Math has been involved in Bitcoin and other virtual currencies for several years, and he is interested in the issues they raise, both technologically and politically.

When?
Monday, June 10 2013 at 6:30PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?

What's the talk about?

Tickets available now.

 

Glasgow Skeptics and Bright Club host an evening of stand-up comedy and top science for this Glasgow Science Festival special.

 

Let’s talk about sex: the night will kick off with a special insight into “Sperm Warfare”, courtesy of evolutionary biologist Simon Watt (of Channel 4’s BAFTA-winning “Inside Nature’s Giants”).

 

So you’ve found a healthy, fertile mate, you’ve fought off your rivals and you’ve convinced them that you are what they were looking for. Sorted! But the reproductive race is far from over, my friend. We have entered the realms of Sperm Warfare. Come learn about the devious tricks used by cells, organs and bodies to win the race to fertilisation.

 

With the audience sufficiently hot and bothered, Simon will go on to host a Bright Club science festival special, with six of Glasgow’s funniest academics and geeky headliner Helen Arney.

 

Don’t miss it!  Tickets are available on eventbrite now!

Prof Mike Barrett

When?
Monday, May 27 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Prof Mike Barrett

What's the talk about?

As late as the 1880s people still believed that malaria was caused by the breathing of putrid air from swamps.  The discovery of French scientist Louis Pasteur that microscopic germs were responsible for some human illnesses lead to a vigorous quest for microbes behind a range of diseases.  At this time, the British Empire had spread to many parts of the world and many of the medical clinics there were manned by Scots doctors who had been trained in the philosophy of the Scottish Enlightenment.  Equipped with rudimentary microscopes these pioneers went on to show the causative agents for many diseases of the tropics including leishmaniasis and trypanosomiasis as well as revealing how insects could be responsible for transmitting diseases like malaria and elephantiasis.  Today, many of these diseases are still with us, but scientists in Scotland remain at the forefront of efforts to eliminate them.

 

Mike Barrett is Professor of Biochemical Parasitology at the University of Glasgow and also directs a new initiative at the University, Glasgow Polyomics. He Chairs the Kinetoplastids Drug Efficacy working group at the World Health Organisation and is part of the Human African trypanosomiasis expert group at WHO. His research focuses on work into understanding how parasites become resistant to current drugs and how we can design new drugs tailored to specifically interfere with the inner workings of parasites.   He has also had a long interest in the history of research into Tropical Diseases, particularly the role played by Scottish Investigators in their discovery.

Mark Henderson

When?
Wednesday, May 1 2013 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Mark Henderson

What's the talk about?

 

There are 650 MPs in the House of Commons. 158 have a background in business, 90 have been political advisers or organisers, and 86 are lawyers. Only one of them is a scientist. Is it any wonder that politics so often lets science down, and fails to exploit its skeptical methods to design policies that are fit for purpose?

In the Geek Manifesto, published by Bantam Press in May 2012, Mark Henderson explores this disconnect between science and politics, and charts the emergence of a new force that is promising to mend it. From the Simon Singh libel case to the sacking of David Nutt and the Science is Vital campaign, people who care about science are starting to stand up to be counted. The geeks are coming — and our country needs us.

Mark Henderson is the former Science Editor of The Times, and current Head of Communications at The Wellcome Trust.

When?
Wednesday, March 20 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?

What's the talk about?

Award-winning comedian and star of BBC Radio 4′s hit space comedy “It Is Rocket Science”, Helen Keen comes to Glasgow with a fusion of stand-up, science fiction & science fact that will transport you into the exciting, inventive and tinfoil-y world of The Future (by at least 45 minutes).

When?
Monday, March 11 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?

What's the talk about?

 

Glasgow Skeptics is launching a trio of petitions, seeking to open up Glasgow City Council (GCC) to its constituents with the implementation of an e-petition system, to enhance evidence-based healthcare in Scotland, and to promote freedom of religious belief.

 

Come along on March 11th to our campaign launch, and help us get our petitions off to a great start!

 

The petitions relate to the following areas:

 

  • Requesting that Glasgow City Council implement an e-petitions service, to enable citizens of Glasgow to more easily make their views known to the Council
  • Requesting that Glasgow City Council organise a poll of electors in the city, on a proposal to discontinue religious observance in non-denominational schools in the city
  • Requesting that NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde withdraw funding for the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital

 

Speaking at this event will be:

 

  • Dr Margaret McCartney, Glasgow-based GP and campaigner for evidence-based medicine
  • Gary McLelland, Chair of the Edinburgh Secular Society, which is supporting a similar petition on religious observance submitted to City of Edinburgh Council
  • Local government representatives

 

Glasgow City Council currently requires a signature for every name placed on a petition, and so two of these petitions must currently be filled out by hand. Please come along, lend your name to these petitions, and help us to change Glasgow for the better!

 

Perceptions and Misperceptions

Dr Thom Scott-Phillips

When?
Monday, March 4 2013 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Dr Thom Scott-Phillips

What's the talk about?

Evolutionary Psychology (EP) is an approach to the study of the mind that uses (biological) evolution to guide its theorising. There is a collection of criticisms that are often levelled at EP (that it is sexist, that it is naive about evolutionary theory, that it is just a bunch of stories, and several others). Yet many of these accusations misunderstand EP, or, simply accuse it of things it does not claim. These issues are sometimes confounded by media reports of EP research, which can distort the science behind the headlines.

In this talk, Dr Thom Scott-Phillips will set out what EP does and does not claim to tell us about the human mind, and explain the similarities and differences that it shares with related approaches, such as Sociobiology, Ethology, and Human Behavioural Ecology.

Thom Scott-Phillips is a research fellow in Evolutionary Anthropology at Durham University. His research focuses on evolutionary and cognitive approaches to culture and the human mind, particularly the origins of language and communication. In 2010 he received the British Psychological Society's award for Outstanding Doctoral Research, and in 2012 the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association's New Investigator Award. He blogs (occasionally) at http://thomscottphillips.wordpress.com/blog/

Dr Peter Naish

When?
Monday, February 18 2013 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Dr Peter Naish

What's the talk about?

Many people are justifiably skeptical about hypnosis, which is understandable because a great deal of nonsense is spoken about it. On the other hand, many people believe that our minds protect themselves from terrible memories, by repressing them - that sounds sensible. However, scientists relish the counter-intuitive, so it is a delight to report that there is good evidence for the reality of hypnosis, but very little to support the notion of repressed memories, or that hypnosis can retrieve them. As will be explained, the nature of hypnosis and of memory are such that combining them to "recover" hidden material is a dangerous process - it can produce "memories" that never were!

Peter Naish has recently retired from full-time academic life, but retains a position at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, at the University of Sussex. He has had a long interest in the mechanisms and effects of hypnosis and continues to research the subject. He is President of the Section for Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine, at the Royal Society of Medicine, and is Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board to the British False Memory Society.

Emily Collins

When?
Monday, February 4 2013 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Emily Collins

What's the talk about?

Video games are often demonised in the media for everything from encouraging school shootings to stopping people socialising, and yet despite this, their popularity continues to increase. With more and more people now playing video games, should we really be worried? Are we all going to end up as overweight, socially incompetent video game addicts or can video games actually be a force for good? This talk will discuss at least some of the evidence regarding both the positive and negative effects of video game play, arguing against some of the common myths and showing the surprisingly productive ways video games can be used.

Emily Collins is a Research Associate at the UCL Interaction Centre, having recently completed a Ph.D. on the psychology of video game “addiction” at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her previous research has investigated violent video games and aggression, driving games and real life driving behaviour and the cognitive and social outcomes of video game play. Emily’s current research is looking into the occupational applications of video games, and how they could be used to recover from work-related stress.

Patrick Harvie MSP, Prof. Wendy Savage, and Dr Libby Wilson

When?
Monday, January 21 2013 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Patrick Harvie MSP, Prof. Wendy Savage, and Dr Libby Wilson

What's the talk about?

 "Britain is a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so…  Just as our language and culture is steeped in the Bible, so too is our politics." David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 16th December 2011

 

This event will examine just what influence religion holds in society, but specifically in the world of politics, from some of the people who would know these topics best.  We will hear from those involved in the fight for equal marriage, for access to abortion, and for assisted suicide.

 

Patrick Harvie MSP will explain how religious pressure has affected the push for LGBT rights, specifically regarding the effort to extend the right to marry to same-sex couples.  Patrick Harvie is the Co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, and has served as an MSP for Glasgow since 2003.  Patrick became involved in politics after campaigning for the repeal of the infamous Section 28, which outlawed the "teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship".

 

Prof. Wendy Savage will speak similarly about how access to abortion services has been influenced by religious bodies.  Wendy is an obstetrician and gynaecologist, is a former president of the Medical Women's Federation, and coordinated Doctors for a Woman's Choice on Abortion.  Described as "an inspirational leader in women's health", she was shortlisted for the BMJ Group Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

 

Dr Libby Wilson will speak on assisted suicide and euthanasia.  She pioneered family planning services in London and Sheffield, and spent a year in Sierra Leone working in reproductive health, before founding Friends At The End (FATE) in her retirement.  Libby is now the convenor and medical advisor for FATE, and is regularly invited on television and radio discussion panels to speak on euthanasia and assisted suicide.  In 2009, she became the first person to be arrested under the new guidelines on assisted dying.

What is Fuelling the Obesity Epidemic?

Dr Lynda Williams

When?
Monday, December 10 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Dr Lynda Williams

What's the talk about?

It seems logical that a diet high in saturated fat should make you gain weight. But what if you ate the same number of calories from fruit and vegetables? Something instinctively tells you that you wouldn’t gain the same amount of weight, but why is this?

Recent research has shown that diets high in saturated fat - and if you don’t know what’s saturated or not a good rule of thumb is too see if solid at room temperature - actually cause damage to parts of the brain. These areas of the brain not only control food intake but also how the body uses glucose and how much energy is turned into fat. This research tells us why a diet high in saturated fat is bad for us and makes us fatter than calories from other foods.

 

Dr Lynda Williams has been the leader of the Metabolic Health Group at the RINH since 2003. Research interests in the group range from molecular biology and animal models of nutritional manipulation to human dietary intervention studies all looking at the interaction of nutrition on health and obesity.

She has coordinated a large EU funded project on “Obesity and Disease in Ageing”. Her particular research interests have centered on the role that nutrition plays in the induction of obesity specifically the impact of a diet high in saturated fat on inflammation, which is a hallmark of obesity and obesity related disease. Her recent research findings include a rapid effect of a high-fat diet on gene expression in the brain related to inflammation and cognitive function.