Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘experiments’

b00rty0lzo-01-_sx142_sy224_sclzzzzzzz_

Despite the slightly misleading title (more on that later), I enjoyed this book. The author, a senior lecturer in Psychology at Keele University, discusses the benefits and pitfalls of certain ‘bad’ behaviours, including drinking, driving too fast, swearing, time wasting and dying (!) using various tests and experiments conducted by scientists to do so.

As he explains in the introduction, he doesn’t delve too deeply into the science side of things, but explains experiments conducted and their results in layman’s terms (good for a person like me). At the end of each chapter he does provide a list of references and suggestions for further reading.

Stephens is a genial and engaging narrator – a lot of how he writes is in the kind of language you might use having a chat in the pub with friends – which makes for a fun read as well as an informative one. I’m still not convinced that some of the behaviour is beneficial or indeed that all of the behaviour constitutes ‘being bad’ – and certainly there are limits drawn; for example the book acknowledges that excessive drinking is bad for health, while pointing out that drinking in moderation can have health and psychological benefits, but then I wouldn’t say that moderate drinking is ‘bad’ behaviour anyway. As another example, the chapter on swearing states that swearing in certain situations is beneficial, but that there are of course some circumstances when swearing is entirely inappropriate.

Little niggles aside however, overall this book is interesting and provides some food for thought. I’d definitely read more by this author.

 

Read Full Post »

Following last years successful Full Frontal Nerdity show (review here) Steve Mould, Matt Parker and Helen Arney are back with Just For Graphs, a comedy show with science related songs, experiments with fire, and lots of graphs and maths.

These are the kind of people who you wish had been your teachers at school. Science is a lot more interesting when you are actually part of the experiment – such as the experiment showing the conductivity of humans which was demonstrated in this show – or indeed when a tennis ball set on fire is thrown across the stage (it’s not as dangerous as it sounds!)

The show was more maths centred than Full Frontal Nerdity, but even though I am not a maths lover (give me English and Drama over Maths and Science any day), I found it very interesting, and there was certainly a lot to laugh at. There was a great section about Venn diagrams (yes, really!) and Euler diagrams (often mistaken for Venn), and light and bouncy atmosphere kept the whole audience engaged.

Arney, Mould and Parker all interact very well with each other – I can only imagine that they are great friends offstage, and this makes for a friendly dynamic with the audience. Parker in particular is well aware that many people see maths as boring or dry, but if anyone can change people’s minds, he can.

Definitely a fun night out whether or not you have an interest in science. Go catch them on the tour if you can.

Read Full Post »

Take two physicists and one mathematician, add in some good natured ribbing with each other, and some impressive looking experiments, and you have Festival of the Spoken Nerd.  Steve Mould, Helen Arney (the two physicists) and Matt Parker (the mathematician) present an evening of good humour, science-inspired songs, and fascinating facts – and it’s hugely enjoyable.

The music came courtesy of Arney, whose songs have actually been credited as a learning tool by the Open University, and it’s easy to see why.  They’re catchy, and because of the humorous lyrics, easy to remember – and let’s be honest, it’s not often you get songs about cryogenic freezing, or the condition of synesthesia (where you feel one sense when another is stimulated; for example, you might hear music as colour).  She also attempted to break a wine glass with her voice – although on this occasion, it took a member of the audience’s voice for this to actually work!

Mould did an amazing trick (sort of: it’s not a trick, more of a natural phenomenon which still looks pretty nifty) with a beaker of string beads, as well as creating fire tornados, and electrocuting a pickle (honestly, that is MUCH better than it sounds). He also explained how we perceive colours, even when they’re not actually there.  Kind of.

Parker had the unenviable task of making maths fun, but he does it.  He explained how to turn any picture into a spreadsheet, and had lots of fun with air vortices.  Even though I knew how they worked, it was still great to watch, and Parker’s enthusiasm was infectious.

I really enjoyed the interplay between the three hosts – I imagine that the show was pretty scripted, but despite that, the jokes felt fresh and spontaneous.  Audience participation is encouraged with some of the experiments, and also via Twitter, throughout the show.

You don’t need to be into science or maths to enjoy this show (I never enjoyed either subject when I was at school), but it might awaken an interest in the subjects, and even if it doesn’t, the show is so good natured, and the three hosts are just so likeable, that a few hours watching full frontal nerdity turns out to be a perfect way to spend an evening.  if you get chance to see this show, I definitely recommend it.

(For more information about Festival of the Spoken Nerd, please click here.)

Read Full Post »