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Archive for the ‘science’ Category

certificate in Contemporary Science

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So I’ve finally finished my OU Contemporary Science certificate. I’ve been doing this for years, signing up for modules whenever I felt my brain atrophy.

You can study all sorts of short modules but my selections had a distinct but unplanned biological and historical science slant:

I’m taking a break for now, at least until I can’t remember that essay deadline feeling.

Written by Karen

January 19th, 2010 at 6:03 am

Posted in science

summer science

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A good friend of mine is Young Scientist Centre Manager at the Royal Institution. The centre doesn’t open until September but in the meantime we were invited along to one of the Institution’s Family Fun Days.

We were treated to a lecture about the science of rock music, demonstrations of the world’s largest whoopie cushion, and received instructions on how to make two coat hangers sound like Big Ben (strangely the most impressive bit of the whole day).

On our friend’s recommendation we also went to the Royal Society for their  Summer Science Exhibition.

This was a bigger, busier event with the emphasis more on cutting edge scientific research and less on hands-on stuff for kids. In retrospect I spent most time on the biology stands and now feel well educated about ladybirds and snails. Goo-making seemed to captivate the kids.

There seemed a curious bias amongst the medical stands which seemed strangely focused on female anatomy, including a stand with real human placenta in a bag, which provided the ick factor for the grown-ups.

We did a bad job of collecting all the freebies but we did come away with slinkys. So we were kept amused on the journey home.

I’d recommend both events to science fans (and to fans of grand buildings) but the RI event is particularly good if you’ve got kids.

Written by Karen

July 6th, 2009 at 1:52 pm

why isn’t AI a GM-like bogeyman?

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I listened to the Gardeners Question Time GM debate recently. Afterwards I tried to explain to PW why anti-GM protesters annoy me, when I mostly agree that turning propagation into something controlled by corporations is a bad thing.

I suppose I get annoyed with the focus on GM as the science that will destroy the world. Pretty much any technology has that capability but we only seem to be allowed to worry about one at a time (fretting about nuclear is very last century, it seems).

Co-incidently I’ve just finished Dan Simmon’s Hyperion series (tetralogy? cantos?) which features sinister artificial intelligence that may be intent on genocide. The AI takeover of the world (AI apocalypse, Cybernetic revolt, Machine Rule, Grey Goo) is such a common theme in modern Sci-Fi that it seems curious that there has not yet been tabloid outrage at the reckless scientists working in the field of AI. Think Matrix, Terminator, Battlestar Galactica, and 2001. And after all, what’s is the etymology of ‘Frankenstein Foods’?

Perhaps it is just a little too early.

(I’m also regularly referred to as the AI, as in “we’ll get the AI to knock out some wireframes”, so I’m looking forward to being mistaken for a tabloid threat to humanity)

Written by Karen

December 31st, 2008 at 7:12 am

Posted in fear,future,science

OU – Archaeology: The Science of Investigation

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I’ve just started a short archaeology course with the Open University. I’m not sure what connections I can make with IA but we’ll see.

Fossils and the history of life was my first ever OU course, so I seem to be reverting to courses about digging.

Written by Karen

May 27th, 2008 at 2:50 pm

Posted in science

myExperiment – 2.0 overload

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myExperiment is for scientists “to share, re-use and repurpose experiments”. It makes me feel a little Web 2.0 queasy. An Open Source beta, built in Ruby on Rails, supporting Creative Commons licenses, complete with wiki, tags, openid, bookmarklets, and a restful API.

Oddly one of the FAQs is ‘why not use Facebook?’. Did someone seriously suggest that?

Written by Karen

January 22nd, 2008 at 3:34 am

Posted in science