Frogs at the Vale

We had a very well presented and informative talk from Matthew O’Donnell tonight, including the dramatic decline of tropical frogs caused by the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatis), why the first pregnancy tests using live African clawed frogs helped spread the fungus  and why there’s really no difference between frogs and toads. Matthew brought along some of the live specimens from the Vivarium where he works. These were – two (tiny) lemur leaf frogs (the critically endangered species he and his colleagues are working to conserve), a red-eyed tree frog and a splendid leaf frog (which was, err splendid). I said we would list Matthew’s suggestions for further reading. Do take a look at the Frog Blog and leave a comment there if you enjoyed his talk!

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No SciBar in September this year

[EDIT - September SciBar is on! Click on the link above to see details]
Apologies, we have no speaker booked for September so although Monday 14 September would usually be a SciBar, we will be taking a break. Never fear though – plenty of fantastic talks coming up from October.October SciBar is going to be a real corker, hopefully with live frogs too!
See the list of forthcoming talks by clicking on Future SciBars in the menu bar.

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A reminder no SciBar in August

We will be taking a break in August.

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Bye bye Jon and Catherine, founder SciBar members

Very sad that Jon and Catherine have left Bollington for work reasons. They were both heavily involved in setting up SciBar in 2009, and keeping it going as well as contributing to science programmes at the 2009 and 2004 Bollington Festivals. I think Catherine sourced our (free) projector, and Jon as treasurer got us a grant so we could buy spare bulbs etc.
Jon says ‘Send my best to all in Bolly’, and he’s missing Lee’s beer already.
We’ll miss you both. Thank you for all your contributions.

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QED 2015 – a science and skeptical conference in Manchester in April

We’ve been asked to put up details about QED – the science and skeptical conference which takes place in Manchester every year.
The event takes place on April 25th and 26th of 2015, costing £99 for the weekend (£69 for students and under 18s). They also have a crèche facility still available for booking, but crèche places must be booked before the end of January.

Here’s the details from the organisers. See also the weblink at the bottom.

QED 2015: featuring Lucie Green, Bruce Hood, Dame Sue Ion, AC Grayling and much more!

With QED 2015 less than 3 months away, we are delighted to announce the complete main stage line-up, featuring a range of international scientist and skeptical speakers:
Dr Lucie Green: a physicist and science broadcaster best known for her work on The Sky At Night and Stargazing Live, as well as regular appearances on BBC Radio 4. Photo by Mike Peel.

· Professor Bruce Hood: an experimental psychologist and author who has published extensively in the fields of superstition, supernatural belief and cognitive development.

· Dame Sue Ion: a leading figure in the UK’s nuclear industry and an internationally recognised expert on fuel recycling.

· Professor Marcel Dicke: whose book ‘The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet’ argues that the Western world undervalues the contribution insects could make to our lives… and to our nutrition.

· Dr Harriet Hall: a former US Air Force flight surgeon who now writes prolifically on the subject of pseudomedicine for the Science Based Medicine blog.

· AC Grayling: philosopher and writer of over 30 books, including “The Good Book”, “Ideas That Matter”, “Liberty in the Age of Terror” and “To Set Prometheus Free”.

· Ryan Bell: a former pastor of almost 20 years, Ryan experimented with giving up God for a year, discovering at the end of his project that he no longer had need for religion in his life.

· Jennifer Michael Hecht: writer, historian, poet and philosopher whose book ‘Doubt: A History’ explored the history of religious and philosophical doubt.

· Matt Dillahunty: host of The Atheist Experience TV show, former president of The Atheist Community of Austin, Texas, and prolific debater of religion apologetics

· Natalie Haynes: comedian and writer whose work encompasses lessons from history and humanist philosophy, Natalie’s appearance at QED 2013 was rated by many as their conference highlight.

· Michael Marshall: the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society, coordinator of the 10:23 Campaign, Psychic Awareness Month and host of Be Reasonable podcast

· Rosie Waterhouse: a journalist and lecturer whose extensive twenty-four year investigation saw her researching the links between satanic abuse, false memories and moral panics.

· Mitch Benn: a musician, comedian and star of BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show, who proved to be one of the highlights of QED 2013, and joins us for 2015 as our Master of Ceremonies

Every single ticket entitles the holder to entry the full programmes for Saturday 25th April and Sunday 26th April, including our popular Saturday night entertainment. To get your ticket to one of the highlights of the skeptical/humanist calendar, tickets costing £99 for the full weekend (£69 for students and under 18s),visit .

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WEA Disley – wildlife events this spring

Disley WEA have sent us details of theur wildlife events, which include

Butterflies – Interactions with other species, with habitat and with climate change
Morning session – Why do ants get the blues? Afternoon session – The Derbyshire Brown Argus – an enigma.
David Tomlinson
Saturday 21 March 2015
Fee £15 including lunch, tea and coffee.
At Quaker Meeting House, Ring O’Bells Lane, Disley SK12 2AG

Wildlife Walks in Spring
Visits to interesting and varied public places where wildlife and nature can be seen, heard, felt, tasted or potentially seen. The visits will be informal and relaxed.

Walking boots/stout shoes and outdoor clothing will be required.
First meeting at Ring O’Bells on Thursday 26 March 2015 10am-12noon
Followed by walks on April 2, 16, 23 and 30th.
Fee for Wildlife Walks £43.40. or free to eligible learners.

For further details phone the Branch Secretary, Rosemary Broadhurst on 01625 877255
Or visit where online enrolment is available

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From Happy 5th Birthday SciBar

In May 2014 during the Bollington festival, we had a Happy Birthday SciBar to celebrate the inaugural SciBar held during the 2009 Bollington Festival.

For those of you who missed the talks (and the chocolate beer cake), one of the founder members Mark Davies gave this Intro_scibar 5years_May2014 short presentation which is an interesting look at where our speakers have come from, and the topics they spoke about.

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Collider exhibition at MOSI (Manchester Museum Science and Industry)

Collider: Step Inside the World’s Greatest Experiment is a new exhibition that was running at the Science Museum in London and has now come to Manchester. It’s all about the LHC at CERN – the largest and most powerful particle accelerator ever built.

It’s open daily until 28th Sep 2014. Tickets are £7 adults, £5 concessions, free for children under 7.

There’s also an audience with Jeff Forshaw the evening of 13 August (free, booking essential, usual fee to enter the exhibit).

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Great science talks during Pint of Science festival

Just heard about the International Pint of Science Festival which takes place 19-21 May. Their tag line is “Explore the hottest scientific topics with world leading experts …. at a pub”. What’s not to like?

And the Manchester talks feature our very own (cam we call him that?) Phil Manning, though this sadly is the same evening (19 May) as our Happy Birthday SciBar. Plus talks from our very own Penny Lewis (sleep!) and Rebecca Elliot (mental health). Sounds like a packed 3 days.

Pint of Science festival in May, with Manchester talks details at Manchester talks at Pint of Science festival

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Bollington Festival science events

As part of the Bollington Festival the last two weeks in May, there will be plenty of science events including:

* a four-day, free Fab Lab with hands-on activities including workshops from Hands on Science every day, and science shows from Science Made Simple (Sat 24 and Sun 25 May) and Mad Science (Mon 26 and Tues 27 May)
* A night with the stars (with Macclesfield Astronomical Society)
* Vibrations and vegetables: the science of sound (with the London Vegetable Orchestra and science busker David Price)
* A talk by Professor Lord Winston
* A talk on interactive gaming by Professor Robert Stone from Birmingham University
* Seeing the skies with other eyes, a talk by Dr Dave Clements from Imperial College
* A talk on dinosaurs from Dr Phil Manning, Manchester University
* Happy 5th Birthday SciBar (note this is at the Civic Hall, not the Vale Inn)
* an engineering challenge on the recreation ground
* a scientific scarecrow trail.

You can download the full listing of science events at the Bollington Festival BollFestScience_Brochure

Buy tickets online at (note that some events, like Happy 5th Birthday Scibar, the Fab Lab, the engineering challenge and the scientific scarecrow trail are free).

The Festival is run entirely by volunteers. If anyone would like to volunteer to help at any of the science events during the Bollington Festival, please email Could be stewarding / ticket collectors, or if you want to help presenters at the Fab Lab – all welcome – no complicated science to explain, just a willingness to get involved.

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