SCIENCE

Pint of Science

Two-thirds of the way through Pint of Science: Beautiful Mind, talk turns to Socrates and the pursuit of happiness. Familiar conversational territory for a regular night out. 

Jim Lockey invites us to join him on a journey of creation and loss. He recently built, then captained and sank a paper boat in local shallow waters. We are asked whether grief is merely a by-product of human evolution, whilst considering themes explored in Ode to A Nightingale by Keats.

Thou we’re not born for death immortal bird

No immortal generations tread thee down

Tim Rittman condenses years of his work analysing footage of task-free brains and the rigidity that develops in those with neurological degeneration into ten minutes. He likens the brightly lit areas on the scans to conversations at a cocktail party and introduces us to the experiments of William Lennox, a scientist who stuck pins into the jugular veins and carotid arteries of his volunteers.

Within her Weight installation, Aiste Janciute encourages participants to use all five senses as they explore words or concepts that weigh them down or lift them up.

Without gravity, the cosmos is everywhere

 

Dr. Shabhana Khan returns us to the laboratory and to work being undertaken there to increase efficacy in the treatment of anxiety disorders by balancing three key -amines. She works in the field of optigenetics. Endeavours include the use of light to control cells and tickling mice.

Charlie Murphy, resident artist with the Created Out of Mind project, firstly outlines the complex science behind attempts by the team to grow brains from the skin cells of anonymous volunteers then explains how she transformed this process into a series of dance moves and created her Neuronal Disco.

Work it harder

Make it better

Do it faster

Makes us stronger

Two pints of science and three shots of art. I’m left with thoughts around the poetry of the former and the rigor of the latter and how the two push and pull the other into new spaces. The next morning, I feel a slight sense of disorientation as I work to recall, unpack and re-order conversations from the night before. Perhaps only fitting when themes of life, death and the transition between these states are explored, whether this is done through the medium of science or art or over a drink with friends in the pub.

- Melissa Jacob

 

Links relevant to this diagnosis:

Pint of Science

Pint of Science on The One Show - 18 April 2018

Byron Vincent - Live Before You Die

The Love Affair Between Poetry and Science – New Statesman

The Neuronal Disco

What is the Common Ground between Art and Science?Guardian

Rap Guide to Consciousness // Baba Brinkman

Have you ever wondered if a zombie is conscious? Do you love hip-hop? This a show that addresses the former through the latter. Baba Brinkman tackles ‘the hard problem’: how are we conscious? Consciousness is the awareness of your own existence, sensations and thoughts. So how then do the 90 billion or so neurons in our brain create a conscious being? This is a question science does not yet have the answer to, but though a series of ‘peer-reviewed raps’ Brinkman explores what we know about the brain and what this can tell us about the nature of consciousness.

Brinkman takes us from Bayesian probability theory to panpsychism (the theory that the universe is conscious). He breaks down these complex ideas using his son, acid trips and Google’s DeepDream generator, to create a funny and enjoyable hour long discussion about some hardcore scientific ideas. This makes Baba Brinkman’s Rap Guide to Consciousness a fantastic example of how to communicate complex scientific ideas. Every day we are bombarded with news stories about the latest scientific discoveries and asked to change our behaviours and lifestyles, and yet more often than not we are expected to just believe in the experts as the science is too hard to explain. With global phenomenon like climate change and obesity having the ability to affect us all, it has never been more relevant that we demystify science and remove the lab coat and safety goggles. 

- Kate Porcheret

 

Links relevant to this diagnosis:

Baba Brinkman - Rap Guide to Consciousness

Consciousness Round-Up - New Scientist

Your Brain Hallucinates Your Conscious Reality - Anil Seth (TED)

Rapping Evolution: An Interview with Baba Brinkman - Committee for Sceptical Inquiry

DeepDream Generator

Ensonglopedia of Science // John Hinton

Featuring a song for every letter of the alphabet on a different scientific topic, the ambition of this performance is to make some impressively complicated ideas accessible and enjoyable for younger audiences. N is for neuron, P for Phylogeny and R for Relativity, which comes complete with a rap. And whilst as with any performance that aspires to present 26 moments of genius the hit rate varies,  the clarity of the scientific concepts is maintained throughout. Ensonglopedia of Science is couched in vaudevillian humour, and although the accent used for the ‘Cell Calypso’ is unfortunate, the other humour helps difficult ideas to stick.  

It’s goal of familiarising the young audience with the mechanics of scientific inquiry, foregrounding the central process of a hypothesis tested by experimentation, is vitally important in an era of fake news and alternative facts. As scientists have continually asserted, one of the biggest issues they face is the way that the public understand the language and processes of science. It is essential that both the public and politicians appreciate what is meant by terms like ‘theory’ and ‘proof’ in relation to the research of scientists. Correcting misrepresentations, particularly amongst the young, could help avoid the kind of debate seen around the validity of the science of climate change, for example. Greater scientific education can leave the next generation less susceptible to the distortions of research in the service of political positions.

Hinton is in a long line of performer/scientists that engage with the silly to help foster understanding, from Don Herbert to Bill Nye, a family friendly entertainer and educator. Manic energy and the breakneck speed with which he moves from one song to the next relates to the fizzing of electricity, the vastness of space and the breadth of human inquiry.

- Lewis Church

 

Links relevant to this diagnosis:

Ensonglopedia of Science - John Hinton

10 Scientific Ideas Scientists Wish You Would Stop Misusing - Gizmodo

The Association of Science Education

Engaging and Educating the Public on Environmental Science - BioMed Central

How to Make Hydrogen - Mr Wizard (Don Herbert)

Climate Debates on Television - Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

I WAS A TEENAGE CHRISTIAN / Katy Brand

I WAS A TEENAGE CHRISTIAN / Katy Brand

Comedian Katy Brand is pretty clear why she left the Buckinghamshire church she so strongly identified with from the age of 13. In I Was A Teenage Christian, she talks about her gradual disillusionment with leaders who banned Harry Potter, and who flatly disapproved of her choosing to take a degree in theology.

BEND IN THE RIVER / Deep Water Theatre Collective

BEND IN THE RIVER / Deep Water Theatre Collective

Have you ever heard of Hansen’s disease? What about its more common name, leprosy? A disease that feels like it should belong in the history books, more than 200,000 people are still diagnosed with Hansen’s disease every year around the world, mainly in South America, Africa, India and south-east Asia. Given this distribution in the developing world, it’s easy to forget that it was a problem in the US until well into the 20th century.

TANK / Breach

TANK / Breach

Dr Doolittle may have wanted to talk to the animals, but in the 1960s NASA was determined to make them speak English. In a spectacular act of hubris, the agency had decided that if any aliens came to earth, we should attempt to communicate with them in the manner of an aristocrat abroad – slowly, loudly and in perfect English.

GMO: GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM / Act One

GMO: GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM / Act One

GMO: Genetically Modified Organism takes the form of a trial, with the audience as the jury. Not a new idea - Ayn Rand was an early pioneer with a play called Night of January 16th - it is an appropriate choice for a show that wants to put across arguments on both sides of an issue, in this case editing of the human genome, and make the audience choose which is right.

ON EGO BY MICK GORDON / Mind Over Matter Theatre Collective

ON EGO BY MICK GORDON / Mind Over Matter Theatre Collective

Mick Gordon’s 2005 play, On Ego, made in collaboration with Paul Broks, a neuropsychologist, poses philosophical questions about selfhood. It plays with teleportation to create a doubled character, Alex, and asks whether the original or the copy is the more ‘Alex’.