Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Cafe Scientifique



I went to a recent lecture at a local college by Simon Singh, and that was pretty good. Singh is a British author with a phd in physics and he's excellent at explaining science and math in an easy to understand fashion. His latest book is called Big Bang and it's about cosmology. I typically dread listening to people talk cosmology stuff because it always seems to be so full of conjecture and immense inferences based on slim evidence, but Singh was great.

So, I looked up Singh on the Internet. On Singh's website there is a link to a UK activity called "The Cafe Scientifique Network". It seems like such a good idea that I'm posting the description from their website below

What is the Cafe Scientifique? The Cafe Scientifique is a forum for the
discussion of important and interesting scientific issues that is much more
informal and accessible than a public lecture.

Who else will be there? The audience will consist of people who are
interested in science but generally never have the opportunity to discuss their
views with and ask questions of someone "in the know". No scientific
knowledge will be assumed by the speakers so that everyone can participate.

What happens at a Cafe Scientifique? each event starts with a short talk
from a speaker who is usually a scientist or a writer on science. After this
there is usually a short break to allow us to refill our glasses and have a few
private discussions. This is generally followed by an hour or so of questions
and answers and general discussion. There will be opportunity for everyone to ask questions, and we welcome those which begin "This might be a stupid
question, but......" These questions are invariably not stupid and often rather
insightful.

Where and When? Cafes Scientifiques are hosted in a range of venues. Most of these are bars or cafes, but some are bookshops, theatres or community spaces.

This is something I wish we had in this country. Maybe the Brits are a bit more oriented to public discussion and discourse about science. But, if there was something like this here, I know I'd make time to go. If anyone knows of a similar type of activity here in the USA, please comment and post details.

A reader named Barney posted this great link to North American Cafe Scientfique sites. Thanks!

4 comments:

Barney said...

There doesn't look to be a centralized US site, but hit up google with 'cafe scientifique US' or something like that and it pulls up a number of domestic occurrences.

Barney said...

Aha, here's a link to North American Cafe Scientifique sites.

Bill Beaty said...

Here in Seattle we have "Science On Tap," http://www.scienceontap.org/, and also monthly Dorkbot meetings http://dorkbot.org/dorkbotsea

drk said...

The Cafe Scientifique guys should hook up with the London "2600" crew sometime for interesting interchange of science and technology ideas.

Make no mistake, the London 2600 crew have been around for a while so it's not just young script kiddies bragging about their latest conquests - there are some real experimenters there - and some very interesting conversations to be had.