UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies is an interdisciplinary centre for the integrated study of science's history, philosophy, sociology, communication and policy, located in the heart of London. Founded in 1921. Award winning for teaching and research, plus for our public engagement programme. Rated as outstanding by students at every level.

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Archive of events calendar

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Brian Balmer seminar

Start: Jan 10, 2012 1:00:00 PM


Ad Hoc Seminar: Bill Brock

Start: Jan 10, 2012 6:00:00 PM
End: Jan 10, 2012 7:30:00 PM

The first AD HOC session of 2012 takes place on Tuesday 10 January, from
6.00-7.30pm, in Room B15 (STS Department), 22 Gordon Square, University
College London.

To inaugurate our London season, Prof Bill Brock will be introducing two
chapters from his book, William Crookes (1832-1919) and the
Commercialization of Science
(Ashgate, 2008). Ch. 2 discusses photography
and chemistry, and Ch. 3 looks at earning a living as a chemist in the
nineteenth century. Afterwards, we will be going for dinner at a local

For copies of the readings, or to join the AD HOC mailing list, please
contact Stephanie Seavers: stephanie.seavers.09@ucl.ac.uk.

Film: Under the Carribbean

Start: Jan 18, 2012 6:30:00 PM

STS's irrepressible Joe Cain will be introducing another film night with UCL's Grant Museum.

STS Seminar: Emily Grosholz

Start: Jan 24, 2012 5:00:00 PM
End: Jan 24, 2012 6:30:00 PM

[broken image] Abstract: Reasoning in mathematics often generates internally differentiated texts because thinking requires us to carry out two distinct tasks in tandem. Analysis requires us to engage in the more abstract project of theorizing, in search of conditions of intelligibility (of problematic objects) or solvability (of objective problems). Reference requires more practical, concretely realized approaches for achieving the clear and public indication of what we are talking about. The resultant heterogeneous discourses must then be brought into rational relation by various strategies of integration, like those that unify Book I and Book III of Newton’s Principia. A notable feature of Andrew Wiles’ proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem is that it invokes cohomology theory (inter alia) and thus Grothendieck’s notion of successive universes, which, from the point of view of set theory, are rather extravagant but usefully organize the investigation. This bothers logicians, like Angus Macintyre and Colin McLarty , who then try to re-write the theory to reduce its logical complexity. Meanwhile, the significant re-working and extension of the proof by number theorists proceeds independently of logic. Should number theorists care whether their abstract structures entail the existence of a series of strongly inaccessible cardinals? Will the activity of logicians produce useful results for number theorists, or is it enough if they answer questions of interest to other logicians, such as whether in fact Fermat’s Last Theorem lies beyond the expressive strength of Peano Arithmetic? In the case of number theory, the referents are integers and rational numbers in one sense and in another sense modular forms and elliptic curves. For logicians concerned with formalization, the referents are propositions and sets on one account and categories and functors on another. Thus what is an aspect of analysis for the number theorist is an aspect of reference for the logician. This disparity is inescapable, but it is also positive for the advance of mathematics. For when what remains tacit in one domain must be articulated in another in order to bring the domains into rational relation, the growth of mathematical knowledge is enhanced.

Wed 25th: Join Us at iBSc Fair!!

Start: Jan 25, 2012 1:15:00 PM
End: Jan 25, 2012 4:30:00 PM

[broken image] Intercalated BSc Fayre

PUS Seminar: Clifford Stott

Start: Jan 25, 2012 4:15:00 PM
End: Jan 25, 2012 6:00:00 PM

Details: Perhaps the most famous social psychology experiment of the 20th century was Milgram's obedience paradigm where participants were led to believe they were giving fatal electric shocks to another person. The paradigm was developed in order to try to understand the psychological processes that led to the Nazi genocide and is celebrated by Social Psychology because of the social relevance of this important question.

At the same time it is also the case that Milgram is vilified for what is portrayed as an unacceptable breech of ethical standards. The controversy surrounding his methods led directly to the emergence of anethical framework that precluded further research along these lines. What remains is a social psychology unable to address some of the discipline’s most important questions through fear of placing participants in situations of temporary stress. Yet in recent years the Milgram paradigm has been recreated for television.

In this presentation there will be a discussion of the processes behind a 'replication' of the paradigm for the BBC's Horizon programme. Dr. Stott will describe how the institutions of research and media handled the ‘ethical responsibilities’ and ‘protected’ the psychological wellbeing of participants. In so doing he attempts to expose the contradictions whereby the paradigm can be recreated for journalistic purposes but not for scientific research.

STS Seminar: Norma Morris

Start: Jan 30, 2012 5:00:00 PM
End: Jan 31, 2012 6:30:00 PM

[broken image] Abstract: The subject of my talk is a collaborative project started around the year 2000 and completed only last year, during which time it has gone through many phases.  Known for short as the 'Volunteers' project, and focusing on the micro-level of individual research participants, it has explored themes such as the scope for active lay participation in hi-tech biomedical research, modelling researcher-researched relationships, the work that goes in to building productive working relationships, strategies called on to manage the social challenges of the research situation, and assessing outcomes of participant involvement.
In this seminar I shall start with a resume of the project and some of the main conclusions that I and my collaborators* came to.  But beyond that, I propose to use the project by way of a case study of the interactions between research ideas and Government and funding bodies' policies; sharing my experience of navigating through the old and new policy priorities that promote Collaboration, User-involvement, Dissemination, Impact, Special programmes, and discussing how this has affected the research.  How far this under-song is an inevitable and transformative influence on public-funded research (and to what effect) is matter for debate.  In my case, I would go so far as to say I can see an argument for crediting the funding body as a co-author.

* Chief collaborators were Dr Brian Balmer (STS Department) and Professor Jeremy Hebden (Medical Physics and Bioengineering), who were co-applicants on the various funding applications and co-authors of published work.  I take however sole responsibility for the views expressed in this talk.
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