Too Valuable to Die?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/10/2015 - 9:16pm in

Silke Ackermann, Nigel Biggar and Liz Bruton debate the ethics of science and scientists going to war Silke Ackermann (Director, Museum of the History of Science) Liz Bruton (Co-curator, “Dear Harry”… Henry Moseley: A Scientist Lost to War) and Nigel Biggar (Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, University of Oxford) will discuss the ethics of scientists going to war in response to the current Museum of the History of Science exhibition exploring the life and legacy of talented English physicist Henry Moseley.

When Moseley was killed on the battlefield at Gallipoli in August 1915, newspapers on all sides of the conflict denounced his tragic death with one English newspaper headline proclaiming that Moseley was "too valuable to die". Moseley's death contributed to a changing attitude to scientists and science going to war with scientists and engineers being kept away from the frontline. Instead the work of scientists and engineers - research and expertise - is used to meet military goals with scientific research increasingly relying on military funding.

In this discussion, the speakers discuss the ethics of scientific research being used for military ends as well as whether scientists being held back from frontline service means others serve and die in their place.

Periodic Tales

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/10/2015 - 1:25am in


art, Science

Author Hugh Aldersey-Williams, historian of science Jo Hedesan and chemist Peter Battle discuss the ways in which the elements continue to inspire us today The chemical elements, the fundamental ingredients of all matter, have fascinated people for centuries. Their stories have been richly described in Hugh Aldersey-Williams’ bestselling book, Periodic Tales, which forms the basis for a major exhibition curated by Compton Verney Art Gallery.

Hugh Aldersey-Williams is joined by historian of science Jo Hedesan (Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Oxford) and chemist Peter Battle (Professor of Chemistry, University of Oxford) to discuss the ways in which the elements continue to inspire and fascinate us in an event supported by Compton Verney, the Department of Chemistry and TORCH.

Climate change is killing us. We must use the law to fight it | Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/06/2015 - 7:59pm in

The ‘Claim the Sky’ campaign aims to save lives by protecting the atmosphere as a global asset, with governments taking legal action against those who pollute it

How many deaths does climate change have to cause before someone takes responsibility? Our current use of fossil fuels has “potentially catastrophic effects for human health and human survival”, according to a major new report released on Tuesday by medical journal the Lancet and University College London. And it’s not as if we still have time before climate change starts to bite.

Related: Climate change threatens 50 years of progress in global health, study says

Related: The TTIP trade deal will throw equality before the law on the corporate bonfire | George Monbiot

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Theatre and Evolution from Ibsen to Beckett

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/05/2015 - 12:59am in

An interdisciplinary discussion of Kirsten Shepherd-Barr's book Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (Associate Professor of Modern Drama, University of Oxford) discusses her book Theatre and Evolution from Ibsen to Beckett with Michael Billington (Theatre Critic, The Guardian), Morten Kringlebach (Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford) and Laura Marcus (Goldsmiths' Professor of English Literature).

About the book: Evolutionary theory made its stage debut as early as the 1840s, reflecting a scientific advancement that was fast changing the world. Tracing this development in dozens of mainstream European and American plays, as well as in circus, vaudeville, pantomime, and "missing link" performances, Theatre and Evolution from Ibsen to Beckett reveals the deep, transformative entanglement among science, art, and culture in modern times.

The stage proved to be no mere handmaiden to evolutionary science, though, often resisting and altering the ideas at its core. Many dramatists cast suspicion on the arguments of evolutionary theory and rejected its claims, even as they entertained its thrilling possibilities. Engaging directly with the relation of science and culture, this book considers the influence of not only Darwin but also Lamarck, Chambers, Spencer, Wallace, Haeckel, de Vries, and other evolutionists on 150 years of theater. It shares significant new insights into the work of Ibsen, Shaw, Wilder, and Beckett, and writes female playwrights, such as Susan Glaspell and Elizabeth Baker, into the theatrical record, unpacking their dramatic explorations of biological determinism, gender essentialism, the maternal instinct, and the "cult of motherhood."

It is likely that more people encountered evolution at the theater than through any other art form in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Considering the liveliness and immediacy of the theater and its reliance on a diverse community of spectators and the power that entails, this book is a key text for grasping the extent of the public's adaptation to the new theory and the legacy of its representation on the perceived legitimacy (or illegitimacy) of scientific work.

Leviathan and the Air Pump: Thirty Years On

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/05/2015 - 7:30pm in



The historian of science David Wootton reviews the controversial dispute between Robert Boyle and Thomas Hobbes, followed by a reply from Boyle's biographer Michael Hunter Robert Boyle's air-pump experiments in 1659 provoked a lively debate over the possibility of a vacuum. The air-pump, a complicated and expensive device, became an emblem of the new experimental science that was promoted by the Royal Society. However, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes challenged both the validity of Boyle’s experiment and the philosophical foundations of this new approach to science. In their controversial book Leviathan and the Air-Pump (1985) Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer took up Hobbes’s case, arguing that experimental findings depend for their validity on the scientific culture in which they are made.

David Wootton (Anniversary Professor of History, University of York) reviews this controversy and present a new view of the dispute between Boyle and Hobbes. His lecture is followed by a reply from Robert Boyle's biographer Michael Hunter (Emeritus Professor of History, Birkbeck). The discussion is chaired by Ritchie Robertson (Taylor Professor of the German, University of Oxford).

That Other Place: Art and Alzheimer's

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/04/2015 - 12:31am in

A short video about a recent exhibition of photography and film As the social, emotional and welfare costs of Alzheimer’s disease gain prominence, and with the number of sufferers predicted to reach one million by 2025, exploring the ways in which the disease affects the lives of the sufferers and those around them becomes an ever more important task. Responding to this the O3 Gallery in partnership with TORCH presented That Other Place, an exhibition exploring Alzheimer’s disease from the perspectives of sufferer and carer.

In this short video we explore why photography is a valuable tool for documenting the effects of Alzheimer's and the relationship between art and research. We are joined by Victoria McGuinness (Business Manager, TORCH), Helen Statham (Director, O3 Gallery) and Nicola Onions (Artist).

Humanities and Science: Representing Science

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/03/2015 - 12:55am in

An interdisciplinary discussion exploring the many possible approaches to representing science through the arts, as well as potential challenges The discussion begins with a presentation by Dr Kirsten Shepherd-Barr (Associate Professor in Modern Drama, University of Oxford) examining plays that have included scientific content from the Victorian era to Tom Stoppard and Michael Frayn. She will also explore the concept of “mediation”, examining how Frayn and Stoppard mediate the science using biography, history, and metaphor. This will be followed by responses from Professor Heidi Johansen-Berg (Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Oxford), Dr Jason Gaiger (Associate Professor, Contemporary Art History, University of Oxford) and Annie Cattrell (Artist, Tutor at the Royal College of Art and Reader in Fine Art at DeMontfort University). The discussion is chaired by Dr Dan O'Connor (Head of Humanities and Social Science, Wellcome Trust).

The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle over General Relativity

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/03/2015 - 4:14am in


astronomy, Science

A discussion exploring Pedro Ferreira's book Pedro Ferreira (Professor of Astrophysics, University of Oxford) discusses his book 'The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle over General Relativity' with Harvey Brown (Professor of Philosophy of Physics, University of Oxford), Alex Butterworth (Historian and Author of The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists and Secret Agents) and Javier Lezaun (James Martin Lecturer in Science and Technology Governance, University of Oxford). Chaired by Xenia de la Ossa (Reader in Mathematics, University of Oxford).

The book is the first complete popular history of the theory of general relativity, showing how it has informed our understanding of exactly what the universe is made of and how much is still undiscovered: from the work of the giant telescopes in the deserts of Chile to our newest ideas about black holes and the Large Hadron Collider deep under French and Swiss soil.

Observing by Hand: Sketching the Nebulae in the Nineteenth Century

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/03/2015 - 3:13am in

A discussion of Omar Nasim's book Dr Omar Nasim (lecturer in history at the University of Kent) discusses his book with Dr Stephen Johnston (Assistant Keeper, Museum of the History of Science), Professor Martin Kemp (History of Art, University of Oxford) and Professor Chris Lintott (Astrophysics, University of Oxford).

The book sheds entirely new light on the ways in which the production and reception of handdrawn images of the nebulae in the nineteenth century contributed to astronomical observation. Omar W. Nasim investigates hundreds of unpublished observing books and paper records from six nineteenth-century observers of the nebulae: Sir John Herschel; William Parsons, the third Earl of Rosse; William Lassell; Ebenezer Porter Mason; Ernst Wilhelm Leberecht Tempel; and George Phillips Bond. Nasim focuses on the ways in which these observers created and employed their drawings in data-driven procedures, from their choices of artistic materials and techniques to their practices and scientific observation. He examines the ways in which the act of drawing complemented the acts of seeing and knowing, as well as the ways that making pictures was connected to the production of scientific knowledge.

Wayne McGregor: Neuroscience and Dance

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 16/03/2015 - 11:43pm in

Wayne McGregor (Director, Random Dance) talks about his choreographic practice with Dr Phil Barnard, (MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge) and Eckhard Thiemann (Arts Producer).