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Geeks and Guinness: the formula for sexy science - Comments

nextstopearth's Avatar Comment 1 by nextstopearth

I wonder if we have one in sacramento


Mon, 19 May 2008 20:05:00 UTC | #173102

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 2 by rod-the-farmer

Sounds great. How do I find out if there are any near me ?

Mon, 19 May 2008 20:06:00 UTC | #173103

albemuth's Avatar Comment 3 by albemuth google is your friend :) (and mine too in this case)

Mon, 19 May 2008 20:51:00 UTC | #173110

riki's Avatar Comment 4 by riki

That link should be

Mon, 19 May 2008 21:10:00 UTC | #173115

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 5 by mordacious1

Science cafes
I'll drink to that!

Sacramento? hahahaha
Davis? Probably never, but more likely.
Berkeley and Stanford, San Jose even. I could see these cities eventually having something like this, but not Sacramento. I live nearby, by the way.

Mon, 19 May 2008 21:22:00 UTC | #173119

steve_kap's Avatar Comment 6 by steve_kap

Hey RDF, be very careful before you become part of is guy's echo chamber! Several of this group have been trying to push him and the "Methuselah Foundation" on You Tube. They also have been trying to associate his name with Dawkins'.

For some background, search "how De Grey Fooled the world" on You Tube, and other videos that they put out. Their big pitch seems to be "don't let ethical concerns keep us from ending aging". That's a debate that anyone could win, but there real question should be, I think "are these guys credible".

Also note on their vids that they have nothing but praise in their comments. I wonder what happened to the negative comments?

Mon, 19 May 2008 21:30:00 UTC | #173120

gav1970's Avatar Comment 7 by gav1970

Mon, 19 May 2008 22:18:00 UTC | #173124

Szkeptik's Avatar Comment 8 by Szkeptik

De Grey doesn't know what he's talking about. He has huge dreams but no science to back it up.

Many other people and research groops are doing real work in the field of aging and how to slow it, but what De Gray is talking about is not scientific, at least yet.

Mon, 19 May 2008 22:23:00 UTC | #173125

sent2null's Avatar Comment 9 by sent2null

What specific aspects of De Grey's ideas do you find are un-scientific or lack science Szkeptik?

The recent advances (regeneration of skin in mice, affects on aging of calorie restriction in rats..etc.) in pinning down the cellular destabilization that attends aging seem to point toward exactly what he's been saying. I see no reason to think we can't live continuously extended lives, should we figure out how to repair or replace what needs repairing before it kills us, do you doubt we will ever have this knowledge? If so, keep in mind that today we have the knowledge to build incredibly complex chips with millions of microscopic circuit components. I see the job of reverse engineering biology, now that we actually are deciphering the code will be much easier precisely because biology will only need to be reverse engineered. We have the blue prints (DNA) and the finished products (organism) we just need to figure out the encodings and then determine where they lose efficiency over time ie. "age" Mind you I am looking at the problem from the perspective of an electrical engineer and software designer, a perspective I think that has been sorely lacking in the realm of biology (no disrespect intended to any biologists reading that have tried to bridge the gap) In our realm we have to design systems from components and we usually don't have a ready made example of the construction that we can use to figure out how best to write our code or design our circuits.

The task of deciphering our biology will and has been difficult but the rate of advance is rapid, actually faster than I thought 8 years ago when I seriously started thinking about these ideas. What mostly stands in our way is a mountain of difficult computations that simply need more computer horse power thrown and them and that continues to come at about the rate that Moore predicted still.

I am interested to read what your specific objections are..

Mon, 19 May 2008 23:02:00 UTC | #173133

steve_kap's Avatar Comment 10 by steve_kap

"we just need to figure out the encodings and then determine where they lose efficiency over time ie. "age" "

1) That word "just" covers a lot of ground!!

2) Your idea, that aging is due to some lose of efficiency over time, thats not well accepted in the scientific community. Most believe that aging has to do with development, that is, genes that have positive effects in the early stages of development may have negative effects in later stages. Kind of an evolutionary cul-de-sac.

As to "deciphering our biology", our ability to predict how an amino acid chain will fold is quite poor, never might knowing what the folded shape will mean, what it will do.

Outside of the science, of which others are more expert then me, there is the question of credibility. This movement smacks of viral marketing and sock-puppetry more than science to me. Others can judge for themselves.

Mon, 19 May 2008 23:33:00 UTC | #173137

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 11 by Enlightenme..

These are fantastic, very informal, and friendly I went to my local one last night!

James Ladyman, philosophy professor from Bristol Uni gave us a talk on quantum mechanics, and he had a Guinness in the bar afterwards.

We opened a new science cafe at @Bristol last week, where I saw Dr Ainsley Newson give a talk on Biomedical ethics.

I will be at the local church on Wednesday (St Mary Redcliffe, virtually a cathedral in fact) to listen to 'Who Are We?' - A Scientist looks at Religious Views of our Origins' a talk given by Dr Pete Moore, organised by the British Association for the advancement of Science, and I already have my ticket booked to see Richard at the Cheltenham festival to talk about Charles Darwin in June..Yaay!

Tue, 20 May 2008 00:36:00 UTC | #173142

Incredulous's Avatar Comment 12 by Incredulous

De Grey gives more than 30 such talks a year and believes that people are excited by the humanitarian potential of science, rather than the theory.

This strikes me as being the tack that scientists have to take. I had my first computer techie job 30 years ago and it was definitely seen as a nerdy occupation.

Ten years later I was an Microsoft student as a result of spending a year there whilst doing my degree. The idea was that windows would make computing accessible. It was still a geek's pastime, though.

Now, everyone I know has a pretty good understanding of computing generally, admittedly this doesn't make everyone a software engineer or electronics expert.

I see no reason why Science cannot become just as interesting and just as accessible as computing has become. Making science part of a popular lifestyle choice surely has to be welcomed.

Obviously, we do have to make science more attractive to the young so they keep up our traditions of exploding myths and understanding the world around us alive.

I've been going through Penrose's Road to Reality for the last 9 months and it is easy for me to see why people stay away from Physics at A level and beyond.

Especially when you can do Media Studies and be chatting to women all day. Bliss for us guys, maybe not so good for the girls.

Tue, 20 May 2008 01:09:00 UTC | #173144

Synchronium's Avatar Comment 13 by Synchronium

I wrote an interesting article on the ethics of ageing for a module of my degree. I might post it somewhere...

EDIT: Here it is - Living forever on my blog, :-)

Tue, 20 May 2008 02:05:00 UTC | #173147

epeeist's Avatar Comment 14 by epeeist

There is a Cafe Scientifique in Manchester (UK). This provides a link to the RSA and some of their events, including one by Steven Pinker -

Tue, 20 May 2008 02:45:00 UTC | #173151

DamnDirtyApe's Avatar Comment 15 by DamnDirtyApe

Tue, 20 May 2008 02:50:00 UTC | #173152

cafe.sci.s1's Avatar Comment 16 by cafe.sci.s1

It's worth noting that the format of the Dana Café is not typical of Science Cafés in the UK. Most do not have bouncers and guestlists and £15 tickets.

Most operate on a free participation basis in a café bookshop or bar.

We here in Sheffield, use the Café attached to a local cinema.

In answer to the questions about finding Cafés in the US, NOVA sponsors these and you can find American info at

Best Wishes,
CS Sheffield.

Tue, 20 May 2008 03:28:00 UTC | #173156

Colwyn Abernathy's Avatar Comment 17 by Colwyn Abernathy

Gives a whole new meaning to the term "beer goggles." Neat idea tho.

EDIT: Did some prelim searches. KEWL! UPenn has regular events dubbed "Science Cafe" in University City. They even have one "Surviving the Body of Evidence" at the Philadelphia Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology. Part of the "Year of Evolution" series celebrating the 200 year anniversary of Chuck Darwin. Anybody gonna be in the area? ;)

Tue, 20 May 2008 03:43:00 UTC | #173160

dansam's Avatar Comment 18 by dansam

There is something like it in NY:

Tue, 20 May 2008 03:59:00 UTC | #173165

calyx's Avatar Comment 19 by calyx

Someone should send this article to the person that was asking for an atheist church.

Tue, 20 May 2008 04:29:00 UTC | #173169

Johnny O's Avatar Comment 20 by Johnny O

There's one in Salisbury, about 15 miles from where I live... sweet

Edit: It has talks on the first tuesday of every month... I take my daughter to her horse riding lessons on Tuesdays... arse

Edit Edit: The next talk on June 10th is "Epigenetics - The Enigma of Non-Genetic Inheritance"... double arse

Tue, 20 May 2008 05:15:00 UTC | #173177

mrjonno's Avatar Comment 21 by mrjonno

It's worth noting that the format of the Dana Café is not typical of Science Cafés in the UK. Most do not have bouncers and guestlists and £15 tickets.

Not sure what that was aimed at, Dana Centre is free entry been there many a time , 'free' of course means it has tax payers money/corporate sponsorship behind it which isnt neccesarily a bad thing.

They do dinners there at times to which are course you have pay for

Tue, 20 May 2008 05:28:00 UTC | #173180

Stew282's Avatar Comment 22 by Stew282

Fantastic! - I love the idea of science and beer! Even more wonderful, there's one fairly near me - and it's on tonight!


By the way, Plans for the Ice Palace have been approved!!! -

Tue, 20 May 2008 06:24:00 UTC | #173192

LaTomate's Avatar Comment 23 by LaTomate

This is brilliant, but: Booooo :( In my town it's in Starbucks. How can I have a decent pint there?

True it is hard to find a decent quiet pub big enough, but still. Oh well. I'll show up anyway, this should be interesting.

Tue, 20 May 2008 06:26:00 UTC | #173194

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 24 by Cook@Tahiti

I've been to many DANA events throughout 2007, but I must report they are organised and run by arts/humantiies students and they want to avoid the lecture format at all costs. So you get an expert reducing his spiel to soundbites and very brief Q&A with a crowd of people making so much noise that you can't hear anything.

Then sometimes DANA organises gimmicky presentations that don't work - e.g. setting up a roulette table when trying to explain about genes, but it wasn't well thought out. Science events are best organised by science literate people.

I found it underwhelming and unsatisfactory if you want to learn something. If you're there for socialising, fine.

The same problem exists with Horizon and NOVA and other science documentaries: full of explosions, repetitions, innae footage, flashbulb edits, soundbites, etc. You spend an hour watching a 'science program' and you're none the wiser.

Tue, 20 May 2008 09:16:00 UTC | #173249

Nova's Avatar Comment 25 by Nova

Lucy McDonald:

physics A-level has dropped by more than a third from 43,416 in 1991 to 28,119
I'm annoyed by this piece of reporting because it is nearly useless without accompanying information on the state of biology and chemistry - it could be that many who would have taken physics have instead taken chemistry and that science as a whole hasn't suffered as much, or maybe only physics is suffering and the rest of science isn't - maybe not but we can't know without the full facts.

Tue, 20 May 2008 09:39:00 UTC | #173254

Geodesic17's Avatar Comment 26 by Geodesic17

Socrates Cafe is a similar movement. Seattle has a Socrates Cafe.

Tue, 20 May 2008 10:02:00 UTC | #173262

frosty's Avatar Comment 27 by frosty

Just on the point about living forever, I've always thought that, even if it became possible, it would probably be outrageously expensive, so there may well end up being a small number of "immortals" able to live off the earning of the Google stocks they purchased for $10000 per share in 2080, and the rest of humanity slogging away as usual.

Of course, the problem with living older is that you get the same amount of youth as everyone else, but with an extra helping of old age (thanks Pratchett).

I am also reminded of Billy Connellys comment (to his 'willy'), when confronting his naked image in the miror - "yer poooor old barstard, I've outlived ye"

Tue, 20 May 2008 15:46:00 UTC | #173346

sent2null's Avatar Comment 28 by sent2null

steve kap wrote:

2) Your idea, that aging is due to some lose of efficiency over time, thats not well accepted in the scientific community. Most believe that aging has to do with development, that is, genes that have positive effects in the early stages of development may have negative effects in later stages. Kind of an evolutionary cul-de-sac.

I should have clarified what I meant by lose efficiency, the over all result is that on a macroscopic level (failed bone replacement, failed skin regeneration, increased heart muscle rigidity...etc.) but on the microscopic level the idea is that junk builds up in the cell and eventually clogs the works. This could account for changes in cell chemistry that modify enzyme and protein production in deleterious ways that then give rise to the macroscopic failures we associate with aging. Though free radical damage over time could contribute to direct DNA damage that leads to slow systemic failure I doubt there is any in born mechanism that leads to the break down on a macroscopic scale. It sounds like what you are describing is cellular apoptosis which is a microscopic process of senesence and is indeed recognized as a primary method of gene triggered death of cells but that is very different from the slow process of systemic death that we call aging. The recent reports on increased life times for mice and other organisms by simply changing their diet points to a large factor having to do with the "machinery" of the cell rather than any triggered changes by the genes.

Tue, 20 May 2008 16:13:00 UTC | #173350

sophia_mr's Avatar Comment 29 by sophia_mr

I checked the site and it says there's one in SD but it doesn't give me an exact location and the SD site doesn't seem to work. Does anybody know where it is? Please help! Thanks!

Tue, 20 May 2008 17:19:00 UTC | #173367

theantitheist's Avatar Comment 30 by theantitheist

Not got one in Brisbane, might have to contact the Cafe lot and see if we can get one up and running as only Melbourne has one in Oz.

Anyone in Brisbane who'd also be interested?

Tue, 20 May 2008 18:36:00 UTC | #173383