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Wednesday, 26 November 2008

ESOF 2012 goes to Dublin

It couldn't happen to a nicer place. From 12–16 July 2012, Dublin will host the 2012 City of Science meeting, which also seems to be known as ESOF2012, the 5th Euroscience Open Forum.

The press release on AlphaGalileo announcing ESOF2012 quotes Dr Gail Cardew, Chair of the ESOF Supervisory Board and Vice President of Euroscience, as saying:

"We were particularly impressed with Dublin's clear vision on opening the event out to the world and the lengths the Dublin Bid Committee went to bring international partners, including industry, on board. The emphasis on maximising the latest communication technologies, allied to the availability of excellent infrastructure for an event of this magnitude was compelling."
It may be a cliché, but it is true all the same, Dublin really is as hospitable a place as legend has it. With any luck, the city may have done something about the dreadful traffic by the time all those science writers and scientists descend on the place.

Those of us in the UK may read the details of the city's case for winning the event and find it brave of Dublin to plan to hold the meeting in a venue that is not due to be finished until 2010. But other countries are a bit better at completing such things on time.

ABSW December briefing The Comedy Research Project

The Top Five Best Things In Science – Ever!

Monday 15th December 2008

The Comedy Research Project
Timandra Harkness and Helen Pilcher

Helen Pilcher has a PhD in Molecular Neurobiology, but you wouldn’t guess that from this show. She and Timandra both performed solo stand up comedy before a chance meeting at the Royal Society resulted in the Comedy Research Project, which aims to prove the hypothesis that science can be funny.

Helen also writes for Nature and other serious publications. Timandra also performs improvised comedy, writes films and is currently developing a science gameshow.

ABSW full/associate £5
Students £2
£10 non members. (Join on the night for £5 discount.)

The Geological Society of London, Piccadilly
(entrance opposite Fortnum & Mason)
Time: 1800 for 1830
Please note time! Latecomers sometimes cannot be admitted owing to lack of after-hours staff!

Ends c. 20.00 for adjournment in direction of a public house.

To reserve a place, e-mail ted.nield"at" now
Places will be held pending receipt of the requisite fee either by cheque or paypal.

Cheques payable to "ABSW" to:
Ted Nield at
The Geological Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, LONDON W1J 0BG
or paypal to absw"at"

(Please write in the message what it is you're paying for, and email Ted when the deed is done.)

Friday, 21 November 2008

DIY book takes off

Ed Yong, ABSW member, freelance writer and information officer at Cancer Research UK, has done his own thing in publishing a book based on his blog Not Exactly Rocket Science.

Ed says that Not Exactly Rocket Science - the BOOK!!!! "covers a wide range of biological areas – Mexican-waving bees, snow-making bacteria, viruses of viruses, the psychology of voting, the neuroscience of jazz, binge-drinking shrews, the evolution of language, super-sharks, climate-changing beetles and more".

Ed decided to publish the book himself, using Lulu, which was, he says, "ridiculously easy". He is also honest about his reasons: "I'd written all these pieces for my blog and it felt like a straightforward thing to do to compile them into a printed version that would hopefully reach a wider audience of "people wot don't read blogs". Some extra returns for minimal extra effort."

Ed says that Lulu appealed because it "doesn't charge upfront fees so there's no financial risk". He warns that "have to do all the bits yourself (design cover, write blurb, typeset, proofread, compile index, etc.etc.)". Then you just upload the thing.

"The faffy stuff," as Ed puts it, "took longer than I expected but the writing had all been done already. And it was fun."

"Not Exactly Rocket Science" costs a mere £9.99 from Lulu. At least one ABSW member welcomed the book as a chance to ease their shopping for Christmas presents.

Now we just have to see if anyone is willing to review self-published books. Then again, self publishing does mean that the author has to stump up the cost of review copies.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

New Job!

European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), Hinxton/Cambridge, UK:

Web Content Developer (full-time)

The EMBL-EBI's Outreach and Training Team is looking for a web content developer. The primary duties are to:

  • Write and edit information for the EBI's high-level web pages, including and the EBI's training and helpdesk pages with the aim of making the EBI website more accessible to a wide range of users.
  • Create video-based tutorial and help-desk materials, and support others at the EBI who need to produce these materials. This may involve either storyboarding and working with external contractors or the complete production process, depending on previous experience.
  • Investigate ways to exploit electronic technologies, such as podcasting and social networking, to deliver timely and relevant information to EBI users.
  • Contribute to the team's other outreach and training activities, both at the EBI and around the world. This will involve some international travel to conferences and consortium meetings.

    This post requires at least a degree in the molecular life sciences, most probably followed by a PhD or other relevant experience. The ideal candidate will have at least two years’ experience in a multimedia publishing environment and will have excellent writing and editing skills. (S)he will be capable of communicating complex scientific ideas to different target audiences, ranging from scientists to the general public. The Web Content Developer will be skilled at liaising with design and production teams both within and outside the EBI to achieve the desired end product. A good knowledge of MS Office, email and internet applications is required. HTML editing, design skills and familiarity with graphics and web design packages such as Adobe Creative Suite are highly desirable. The ability to work to deadlines and exploit the creativity of design and production teams whilst ensuring that they keep to their brief is essential.

    An initial contract of 3 years will be offered to the successful candidate. This can be renewed, depending on circumstances at the time of review. EMBL is an inclusive, equal opportunity employer offering attractive conditions and benefits appropriate to an international research organisation.

    To apply, please email a cover letter, CV (in English) and contact information of three professional references quoting ref. no. ABSW/08/081/EBI in the subject line, to:

    For further information please visit and