Oxford University Scientific Society - Trinity Term 2011

"Science and Prediction: How Reliably Can We See the Future?"

Dr Len Fisher, Popular Science Author and Presenter - First Week - 4th May 2011

Dr Fisher will give an informal talk on his latest book Crashes, Crises and Calamities: How We Can Use Science to Read the Early-Warning Signs (2011), which was just released in the UK. Dr Fisher's books are written to show the world through a scientist's eyes using humour and personal stories. Along with writing books, Dr Fisher has presented several series on BBC Radio 4, has presented for National Geographic Television, and has been interviewed on Groks Science Show and "Science Friday" (US National Public Radio). He is also a regular columnist for BBC Focus Magazine and has a blog (www.psychologytoday.com).

Dr Fisher is currently a Visiting Fellow in Physics at the University of Bristol. He began his career with a BSc in Chemistry and Pure Mathematics and an MSc in Radiation Chemistry from the University of Sydney. He has a PhD in Physics of Surfaces from the University of New South Wales. He also has a BA in Biological Sciences from Macquarie University and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Bristol. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and a Fellow of the Linnean Society.

Previous books by Dr Fisher include The Perfect Swarm: The Science of Complexity in Everyday Life (2011), Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life (2008), Weighing the Soul: The Evolution of Scientific Ideas (2005), and How to Dunk a Doughnut: The Science of Everyday Life (2003). He has also recently completed a new book entitled The Science of Everyday Life: An Entertaining and Enlightening Examination of Everything We Do and Everything We See (2011).

Source: www.lenfisherscience.com.

"Why Humans Aren't Just Great Apes"

Professor Robin Dunbar, University of Oxford - Second Week - 11th May 2011

As Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology, Robin Dunbar studies the evolution of sociality in humans, nonhuman primates and ungulates. This research includes: the behavioural ecology of reproductive decision-making such as mate choice and parental investment, modeling socio-ecological systems, the structure and dynamics of social networks in humans and other mammals, the nature of social bonding and the cognitive underpinnings of social behaviour.

Professor Dunbar is widely known for formulating "Dunbar's number", which refers to the theoretical cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom a person can maintain stable relationships. This number has been proposed to be near 150. Dr Dunbar is the author of several popular science books including How Many Friends Does One Person Need?: Dunbar's Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks (2010), Evolutionary Psychology: A Beginner's Guide (2005), The Human Story (2004), Cousins (2000), Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language (1996), and The Trouble with Science (1996).

Dr Dunbar obtained his BSc in Psychology and Physiology from the University of Oxford and then his PhD from the University of Bristol in 1974. He is a Fellow of Magdalen College and Director of the Institute of Cognitive & Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford. He has been a Fellow of the British Academy since 1998.

Source: http://www.icea.ox.ac.uk/about-us/staff/professor-robin-dunbar-director/.

"A Little Bit Pregnant: Why It's a Bad Idea to Regulate Computers the Way We Regulate Radios, Guns, Uranium and Other Special-Purpose Tools"

Cory Doctorow - Third Week - 18th May 2011

Cory Doctorow will give an informal lecture on new technologies giving rise to new problems that demand new regulations. He defends the idea that bad things happen when we try to regulate problems arising from new technologies, such as general purpose computers and networks, in the same way as we regulate old technologies like cars and guns.

Cory is the co-editor of the popular weblog Boing Boing (boingboing.net) and a contributor to The Guardian, the New York Times, Wired, and many other newspapers and magazines. Previously, he was Director of European Affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and he co-founded the UK Open Rights Group. He is currently a Visiting Senior Lecturer at the Open University. In addition, Cory produces a regular podcast and has appeared on popular technology podcasts such as TWiT with Leo Laporte.

In addition, Cory has written many popular science fiction books including the New York Times Bestseller Little Brother (2008). He has also written For the Win (2010), With a Little Help (2011), Makers (2009), and the stories behind a collection of comic books called Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now (2008). He has several forthcoming books including: Pirate Cinema, Rapture of the Nerds, Anda's Game, and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.

Source: http://craphound.com.

"Searching for the Mathematical Brain"

Dr Roi Cohen Kadosh - Fourth Week - 25th May 2011

Dr Cohen Kadosh's research focuses on numerical cognition and the acquisition of numerical understanding. He uses fMRI, EEG, and other non-invasive brain stimulation techniques to study the functions of the parietal and prefrontal cortices. Specifically, he works to determine how these areas contribute to arithmetic functions, cognitive control functions and the neurocognitive mechanisms of synaesthesia.

Dr Cohen Kadosh received his BA in Behavioural Sciences and then his PhD in Neuropsychology from the Ben-Gurion University. Before coming to Oxford, he worked at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London. Dr Cohen Kadosh is a Wellcome Research Career Development Fellow. In 2010, he was selected as recipient of the Career Development Award by the Society of Neuroscience.

Source: http://cohenkadosh.psy.ox.ac.uk.