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What amuses, annoys, concerns or otherwise interests me – Noodlemaz

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Science is as vital as ever- fighting cuts again

Science is Vital is a campaign group that was set up back in 2010, the last time UK science was threatened with big budget cuts.

What’s the problem?


It’s happening again, now – the Research Councils have been asked to predict what could happen if 20-40% cuts are imposed.

That is huge. Last time campaigning achieved a freeze, the ringfence or flat cash – no cuts, but after inflation takes its toll, science funding has still decreased over time, to the point we’re now last in the G8.

Head over to scienceogram to interact with these numbers more fully and see how little we spend on things like preventing cancer, heart disease and stroke – currently the 3 biggest disease killers.

How can I help?

  1. Send George Osborne a post card!

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John Maddox Prize 2012

Comments on this post are now closed – thank you to all civil contributors!
Update 2015: excellent summary of the controversies on this subject at MosaicScience
Update 2017: on the results of the PACE trial of CBT for ME/CFS and errors at SBM

Last night I was lucky to be at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society for the annual Sense About Science reception.

I am a member of Voice of Young Science, which is a network set up and supported by SAS that allows young scientists to get involved with pro-science activism. Through this group, we are able to participate in public-facing discourse about science and challenge common misconceptions. This takes the form of supporting campaigns (such as Libel Reform) and contributing to publications. For example, I picked up a copy of Peer Review: the nuts and bolts last night because I joined discussions about its content and aims. Anyone young scientists who’d like to, definitely sign up!

Many of us London-based VOYS members went along last night to show our support for SAS and the RPS, and to find out who won the first John Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science. Sir John Maddox was a long-term editor of Nature and helped expand Sense About Science as a charity, supporting and encouraging its work, as well as helping to establish programmes like VOYS.

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Science is Vital 2012

Last night I attended the first Science is Vital AGM!

It was a great evening with loads of friendly folks (including more than 10 who weren’t from London!!) throwing out ideas on how we can keep Science is Vital going and achieve our goal of convincing the government that, well, science is vital! Secure more funding, protect and encourage UK science and stimulate our economy. In a nutshell. See here for the SiV key messages.

Something sobering to think about is the fact that almost a third of all people die because of a form of cancer. It is the best-funded disease type, but in fact only £10 per person per year is spent on cancer research (govt funding + charity money). If you’re so likely to suffer from something, would you not prefer a bit more money going to it? But on to proceedings…

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The Future of Science?

Yesterday I went to the Dana Centre, attached to the Science Museum, where we were challenged to listen to a series of presentations and decide to whom we would entrust our scientific future. Or something to that effect! Apparently it was to be like speed-dating, without the dating bit, unless you actually got those signals from someone…

The presentation format, called Pecha Kucha, involves 20-slide presentations from each participant and they’re allowed to spend 20 seconds on each slide. This makes for a fast-paced, info-packed session, particularly good for those of us who tend to tune out when talked at for too long.

I loved it and highly recommend future events to everyone.

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Science Only Adds; Don’t Cut the Budget!

Judge of a man by his questions rather than by his answers.

– Voltaire

Yesterday evening I attended the 2010 Voltaire Lecture at Conway Hall, a venue that hosts events, discussions and talks on ethical principles and education. Firstly, apologies to physicists for whatever horrible mistakes I may make; feel free to correct me/add necessary info in comments!! My particle physics is limited to 1st yr undergrad chemistry, much of which is now very vague…

This year the speaker was Prof. Brian Cox, winner of the BHA’s 2006 Lord Kelvin award and I can recommend his TED talk as a kind of mini-version. Before he started I was both amused and disappointed upon hearing a remark from behind me to the tune of:

I probably wouldn’t have come if it weren’t a guy off the telly… I liked the programmes, the science is interesting

– bloke in the audience.

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Libel Reform and Science Funding

Libel Reform Next Step

I officially have permission to attend the Mass Lobby at the Commons on Tuesday, hurrah.

If you’re in London and can be there 13:00-17:00, do e-mail your MP to notify them of your attendance and come along. We can get this done.

Big Libel Gig Epic Win

Sunday was the amazingly successful Big Libel Gig – many thanks to all of the organisers, I haven’t laughed so much in ages. Click the link for Skepchick’s audio and video coverage featuring interviews with the performers.

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