Liveblog: New Scientist Live, London

14:41

Coming up next: Monica Grady on Rosetta’s Legacy.  Monica is a space scientist at the Open University.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 3 August 2014.
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 3 August 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14:15

When Arabic science changed the world – with Jim Al-Khalili.

The House of Wisdom was a real place - in Baghdad - where science was done.
The House of Wisdom was a real place – in Baghdad – where science was done.

Between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, according to this Baghdad-born scientist, Islamic civilization did more than just preserve the memory of Greek achievements.

They also broke new ground, including the invention of algebra.

Only at the very, very end of the talk, he addressed the question of why the golden age of “Arabic science” cam to an end — by saying that, well, civilizations just decline, and the baton is passed.

11:30

No, not an "amazing" coincidence.
No, not an “amazing” coincidence.

Robert Matthews, What are the chances?

From a 19th century short story that seemed to anticipate the sinking of the Titanic to newspaper reports about double-yolked eggs (trillion to one chance!), Matthews gave a wide-ranging, sometimes difficult, talk about probability.

He did give away one very easy way to win money off our friends, but I won’t reveal it here.

 

 

11:25

No, this not what velociraptors looked like, probably.
No, this not what velociraptors looked like, probably.

Darren Naish: What dinosaurs really looked like.  This was the first lecture I attended and I loved it.  Naish started by showing how dinosaurs are conventionally portrayed by artists — starting with the skeleton and then “shrink wrapping” a skin around them.  We now know it’s a little more complicated than that, and in addition to have muscle, fat, etc, they likely had feathers and lots of other, weirder, stuff.  If the rest of New Scientist Live is this good, I’m going to enjoy these next few days …

11:15

I don’t normally do this, but this promises to be a very interesting four days, so I thought I’d share.  I’m attending the New Scientist Live event at Excel London, where there are four theatres and a main stage, and dozens of exhibitors.  I stopped by Rentokil’s “Pestaurant” this morning, which offered up — for free — snacks made from bugs.  If I hadn’t had that croissant earlier, I might have been tempted.

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