Tag Archives: Reading

PubhD – Coming Soon

Since we launched Reading Skeptics In The Pub nearly three years ago we’ve drawn a steadily growing crowd; an audience of over 100 is not uncommon nowadays. It seems there are a lot of people in Reading who, like us, enjoy going out of an evening to learn something. Our In The Geek Midwinter show last week was sold out, and of course Café Scientifique and Geek Night are as popular as ever.

And so, always eager to please you lovely people, I am proposing to host a new monthly event in Reading, starting early in 2014.

is the brainchild of Kash Farooq and Regan Naughton, who are launching the first PubhD in Nottingham. Each month, local doctoral candidates or post-docs, from any discipline from Art History to Quantum Mechanics, explain their work (PhD/EngD/EdD/etc) to a curious audience in a pub.

Talks will be short and informal, with lots of time for questions, chatting and meeting people. We hope that this will give doctoral researchers useful experience in public outreach and help them gain wider recognition of their work, as well as entertaining and educating punters like us.

And because we at Berkshire Skeptics firmly believe in the importance of the ongoing pursuit of knowledge, we propose to take collect voluntary donations each meeting for the University of Reading student hardship fund.

Watch this space for more information or follow @_PubhD_Rdg on Twitter. If you fancy sharing your research story with the group, please do get in touch.

Do your bit. For science!

I want to share this email I got from my good chums at the local branch of the British Science Association. They bring a lot of top sciencey goodness round our way, and they could do a lot more with a little help.

The British Science Association envisages a society in which all walks of life are able to access science, engage with it and feel a sense of ownership about its direction.

Our lively branch is made up entirely of volunteers, holding events throughout the year, as well organising an annual Reading Science Week. Each month we host a Cafe Scientifique in partnership with the University of Reading.

We are looking for general volunteers to appoint for specific positions on the committee. If you are interested in getting involved in the branch please get in touch with the branch chair, Immy Smith.

We are also seeking a Reading Science Week coordinator, which is a bigger role. Reading Science Week is a popular celebration of science in the Thames Valley area, and comprises evening and weekend events for all ages, helping to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers with a fun and inclusive programme.

For full details of the role, person specifications and contact details please see the relevant section of the British Science Association website:


There is an application deadline of the 31st August, so please send a CV and covering letter to the branch chair before this date if you are interested.

The Thames Valley Branch look forward to receiving expressions of interest for joining the committee, or Reading Science Week coordinator applications.

Go on. Science isn’t going to outreach itself, you know.

UoR BioBlitz – 7th-8th June

How synchronicitous. Last night I was watching Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and friends doing their back-garden BioBlitz survey and thinking “That looks like fun, I should get the kids doing that”, when this landed in my inbox:

BioBlitz - University of Reading

Are you interested in biodiversity? If so, come and join us as we identify as many species as possible over 24 hours…

BioBlitz at University of Reading Whiteknights Campus, 7th and 8th June 2013, where people come together to identify as many species as possible. We are bringing together scientists, naturalists, local community groups, students and the public to learn about the vast biodiversity on Whiteknights campus. How can you get involved? Everyone is welcome to this free event; take a look at our events page to see what activities are happening over the 24 hours. Join us on one of our guided walks, help us with ID in the lab, come along to a lecture about local wildlife or just visit the environmental fair.


Happy Skeptical New Year

I’ve been blogging even less than usual recently as I’ve been busy with work, family stuff and also a couple of fun projects that should interest Reading SITP regulars. I’m keeping them under wraps for now but I hope to reveal more soon.

In the meantime, here is a brief round-up of some other stuff.

  • Following their recent Festival Of The Spoken Nerd UK tour, see our friends Matt Parker, Helen Arney and Steve Mould in their new show Life, Oh Life at the Bloomsbury Theatre, 21-22 January. The Nerds are also appearing in Sex Appeal II: Come Again in aid of Brook, the sexual health charity for young people.
  • Robin Ince, presenter of R4’s Infinite Monkey Cage and curator of the 9 Lesson and Carols for Godless People, is coming soon to Reading, Newbury and Maidenhead with his new show, The Importance Of Being Interested.
  • Robin is also appearing at the Free Fringe Fundraiser event at the Bloomsbury on 9 January. Edinburgh Skeptics could not put on their wonderful Skeptics on the Fringe programme without the help they get from the Free Fringe guys. So go, have a great night out AND enjoy the warm glow of knowing you are helping the Free Fringe and Skeptics on the Fringe.
  • The BHA has added its support to the campaign to buy a copy of Alom Shaha’s Young Atheist’s Handbook for the library of every secondary school in England and Wales. You can donate to the cause at yah4schools.org.uk. Alom was our guest at Re.ading SitP back in August.
  • Tickets are now sold out for QED (Manchester, 13-14 April). If you were quick enough to bag a ticket and you’re interested in carsharing from the Reading area, leave a comment below or email me your details and maybe we can sort something out.
  • Amazingly, tickets are still available for ThinkCon (Cambridge, 16 March 2013). They have a great line-up of speakers this year so do check it out.
  • The Department of Chemistry at Reading Uni is hosting As If By Magic, a family lecture by Andrew Szydlo at 18:00 on Wednesday 6 February. I’ll post more info about this when I have it.
  • Our next Reading Skeptics In The Pub will be on Thursday 17th January at the usual place and will feature former Christian fundamentalist Jonny Scaramanga talking about what life is like in an Accelerated Christian Education school.

Happy New Year to you all.

Festival Of The Spoken Nerd

Amazingly, almost unbelievably, there are still tickets left for this Friday’s Festival Of The Spoken Nerd show in Reading.

Stand-up mathematician Matt Parker, geek songstress Helen Arney and experiments guy Steve Mould present a comedy night for the fearlessly inquisitive.

After a year of sell-out shows in London and science festivals around the country, they’re bringing their unique mix of facts and fun to Reading for the sum total of one night only.

Join three of the UK’s best (and nerdiest) performers for an evening of comedy, science, music, maths and interactive experiments as they ask those all-important questions:

  • How can you use a parabola to set stuff on fire?
  • How does the angler fish make love?
  • And how dangerous can things get with just numbers?

I’ve seen all 3 of these stella nerds performing individually before but never all together. It’s going to be ace. I’m just a little conflicted because I would really have loved to see the utterly wonderful A F Harrold hosting Robin Ince and John Hegley at A F Harrold’s Lovely Cabaret. Such disappointments happen with comedy festivals.

Disclosure: Matt Parker is a good friend of Berkshire Skeptics and he helped us launch Reading Skeptics In The Pub way back in February ’11. Susan and I will be there in the Concert Hall foyer on Friday, promoting our upcoming SitP events. I hope to see lots of you there.