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6th December 2020

This is, it seems, a time when we are at risk of losing our connection to the cosmos. A time when what little window on the universe urban light pollution has left us will soon be lost to projects like Elon Musk’s Starlink. A time when it is so rare to look up that when we do we see things so alien that we can only describe them as, well, alien.

It is a time when space exploration has gone from being seen as the expansion of human frontiers to a neo-colonial scramble for resources. A time when Star Trek has gone from "wagon train to the stars" to a dystopian nightmare. A time when dreams of growing up to become an astronaut seems as outdated as those of wanting to be a cowboy.

A time when, in science, cosmology has gone from the search for our place in the universe to a maths-heavy subdivision of astrophysics. And, in pseudoscience, the claim "space is fake" no longer seems to occupy the far reaches of the extremeness spectrum where it belongs. So it is that Skeptics in the Pub – Online invites Dr. Jo Marchant for some much needed cosmic couple’s counselling.

Following Thursday’s event, with the cosmos set to rights, both Skeptics in the Pub - Online and ourselves will be going on our much needed 2020 Winterval break. So, until we return in the New Year, with an exciting lineup of skeptical events, enjoy your time off by suspending your critical thinking, disregarding science and believing whatever the hell you want.

Happy Holidays (and Merry Christmas) from Cambridge Skeptics

The Human Cosmos
with Dr Jo Marchant
Thursday, 10th December 2020 at 7:00pm
 
For most of human history, we have led not just an earthly existence but a cosmic one. Celestial cycles drove every aspect of our daily lives. Our innate relationship with the stars shaped who we are – our religious beliefs, power structures, scientific advances and even our biology. But over the last few centuries we have separated ourselves from the universe that surrounds us. And that disconnect comes at a cost.

In her latest book, The Human Cosmos, Jo Marchant takes us on a tour through the history of humanity's relationship with the heavens. We travel to the Hall of the Bulls in Lascaux and witness the winter solstice at a 5,000-year-old tomb at Newgrange. We visit Medieval monks grappling with the nature of time and Tahitian sailors navigating by the stars. We discover how light reveals the chemical composition of the sun, and we are with Einstein as he works out that space and time are one and the same. A four-billion-year-old meteor inspires a search for extraterrestrial life. And we discover why stargazing can be really, really good for us.

It is time for us to rediscover the full potential of the universe we inhabit, its wonder, its effect on our health, and its potential for inspiration and revelation.

Jo Marchant is an award-winning science journalist. She has a PhD in genetics and medical microbiology from St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College, London, and an MSc in Science Communication from Imperial College. She has worked as an editor at New Scientist and Nature, and her articles have appeared in the Guardian, Wired, Observer, New York Times and Washington Post. She is the author of Decoding the Heavens, shortlisted for the Royal Society Prize for Science Books, and Cure, shortlisted for the Royal Society Prize for Science Books and longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize.

Useful Links:
jomarchant.com

GET THE BOOK
 
A journey through the history of science and man’s relationship with the night sky and the cosmos beyond, from the author of Royal Society Prize-shortlisted Cure.

“A dazzling cultural account of our enduring and ever-changing relationship to the cosmos. Beginning with cave paintings and stone circles, Marchant traces humanity’s epic journey from a sky filled with gods, spirits and celestial events that shaped people’s lives and beliefs to the Big Bang and the search for alien life. This book will change the way you look at the night sky” - Manjit Kumar, author of Quantim.

“Vast in scope and meticulously researched this brilliant book traces humanity’s enduring relationship with our physical and cultural ancestors: the stars. Full of fascinating stories, Jo Marchant weaves astronomy with astrology, mathematical physics with gods and spirits. It made me question my reality and left me starstruck” - Gaia Vince.
FIND OUT MORE
 
The meteorite ALH84001 caused quite a stir with the suggestion of microbial life on Mars, writes Jo Marchant in BBC Science Focus.
Scientists were convinced that biological clocks are predominantly driven by internal rhythms. There was just one problem—involving some mollusks and the moon, writes Jo Marchant in WIRED.
How our minds relate to the cosmos is the latest battle in a fierce and long-running philosophical war, writes Jo Marchant in The Psychologist.
SEE ALSO
 
If Alphafold2 is as transformative as its makers claim, keeping its knowledge secret is troubling - especially when medical advances could be made if this technology is as good as they claim - writes David Briggs for The Skeptic.
Holistic dentists scare patients with warnings about cavitations - but the evidence for the existence of cavitations is flimsy at best - writes Shaun Sellars for The Skeptic.
COVID-19 is understandably getting all the headlines, but there are plenty more fronts in the pan-European battle against pseudoscience, writes Claire Klingenberg for The Skeptic.
CATCH UP
 
Join astrobiologist Dr. Jennifer Wadsworth for a contaminant free exploration of the importance of planetary protection in space and here on Earth. This event, which was streamed live on 26th November 2020, is now available for catch up on the SitP Online YouTube channel.
Join nutritonist Pixie Turner for a talk on food and social media and Michael Marshall for the Ockham Awards 2020 in an SITP Online extrazaganza. This event, which was streamed live on 19th November 2020, is now available for catch up on the SitP Online YouTube channel.
Join physicist Dr. Steve Barrett to discuss if there are any UFO images that require an extraterrestrial explanation. This talk, which was streamed live on 12th November 2020, is now available for catch up on the SitP Online YouTube channel.
JOIN OUR TEAM
Cambridge Skeptics is a not-for-profit community organisation run by volunteers. To support our online presence during the pandemic, we are currently looking for:
  • Blog / Newsletter Contributors
  • Social Media Posters
  • Online Events Co-ordinators
Please get in touch if you'd like to get involved. 
info@cambridgeskeptics.org.uk

www.cambridgeskeptics.org.uk

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GROUPS WE COLLABORATE WITH
We are a coalition of UK-based Skeptics groups. Formed as the COVID-19 pandemic brought our country to a standstill, we are working to deliver high-quality online events focusing on Science, reason, and critical thinking. Every Thursday at 7 pm BST, you will find us presenting live-streamed talks, all for free – you don’t even need to create an account. Simply open up twitch.tv/sitp. Take a look at our events, past and future, we’re sure you’ll see a lot of content you will find interesting.
The Good Thinking Society is a nonprofit organisation promoting scientific scepticism established by Simon Singh in September 2012. ​The society aims to raise awareness of and fund sceptical projects. The goal of the society is 'to encourage curiosity and promote rational thinking'. In partnership with its advisory board the organisation has run several successful campaigns promoting public awareness of such issues. To find out more about The Good Thinking Society, please visit www.goodthinkingsociety.org.

The Cambridge Humanist Group is a welcoming and diverse community of atheists and secularists. We are committed to good company and a good life without religion. We stand up for the right of non-believers to be free from imposition by religious views and organisations. We run Sunday coffee mornings at CB2 Bistro, hold a pub social at a central Cambridge venue on most 1st Thursdays of the month, hold discussions and various social events throughout the year.

The Cambridge Alehouse Philosophers are a group of people who enjoy talking about ideas, and who are philosophically inclined or would like to find out more about philosophy. Once per month, one of our members will prepare a short talk for the evening and discussions will start to spin off from that; we also have organised debates; otherwise, we simply meet up for a sociable chat. Everyone is welcome, we have absolute beginners to philosophy as well as people who been involved in the subject for some time.

The effective altruism community is a global community of people who care deeply about the world, make benefiting others a significant part of their lives, and use evidence and reason to figure out how best to do so. In Cambridge, our local effective altruism community runs plenty of events each week, including lectures, workshops, discussion groups, socials and trips away.
THE LEGAL BITS
Cambridge Skeptics is a not-for-profit community organisation run by volunteers. The organisation aims to promote science, positive skepticism and critical thinking skills via public engagement.

Copyright © 2020 Cambridge Skeptics, All rights reserved.


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