So long…we are now over at SpotOn

The London blog is no longer being updated, although you can still read the archives. If you’d like to find out about discussions in London on how science is carried out and communicated online, you can check out the new SpotOn events microsite. SpotOn stands for science policy, outreach and tools online and reflects the three main discussion topics that the annual two day conference covers:

You can attend the events in person, or online, and we feature regular content around each debate. You’re also welcome to suggest future topics or panelists by contacting us:

The Friday Quiz – 3rd August

It’s Friday, which means it’s once again time to pull on your trivia tracksuit, and have a go at the Friday quiz…

Round 1 – Science in London

1. John Krebs, Marcus du Sautoy, Sue Hartley and Bruce Hood are among the more recent presenters of which annual lecture series?

2. English physician John Snow famously investigated, and discovered the cause of, an outbreak of what disease in Soho in 1854?

3. Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin, Max Planck and, most recently, Dan McKenzie are among the recipients of which annual prize awarded by the Royal Society?

Round 2 – Connections

What is the connection between:

1. Frederick Sanger, Marie Curie and John Bardeen (and no others)?

2. Bison, Gorilla, Lynx, Magpie, Hyena, Red Fox, and Black Rat (and many others)?

3. A sub-alpine mountain range spanning France and Switzerland, chalk, a county in south west England and a Celtic tribe (and a few others)?

Round 3 – Olympics Crossover Redux

Today’s picture round has a vaguely Olympian theme, at least. Below are pictures of birds, each of  which is the official national bird of a country competing in the Olympics. We’ll give you the name of the country in question – can you name the birds?

1. Angola


2. Hungary

3. Guyana


Round 4 – Scientific firsts

1. John Flamsteed was the first man to be appointed to what position?

2. Who was the first person to use the term “survival of the fittest” in reference to evolution?

3. Who was the first person to discover and describe infrared radiation?

Round 5 – Robert Boyle’s wish list

In the 1660s, Robert Boyle drew up a wish list of what he thought were some of the most vital and pressing problems for science to solve in the years to come. Which of the items below are genuine items from Boyle’s wish list, and which have we made up?

  • A Mightily-Powered Horse that may Transport us at Great Speeds across the Countrie.
  • The Emulating of Fish without Engines by Custome and Education only.
  • Varnishes perfumable by Rubbing.
  • The Invention of Beer and Wine Devoid of Hange-over-bringing Properties
  • Potent Druggs to alter or Exalt Imagination, Waking, Memory, and other functions, and appease pain, procure innocent sleep, harmless dreams, etc.
  • The Ability to Know the Minde of an Animal, and to Converse with it as if in a Taverne.
  • Great Strength and Agility of Body exemplify’d by that of Frantick Epileptick and Hystericall persons.

Good luck, no cheating on Google, and answers will be up as always on Monday…

Friday Quiz – 27th July – Olympics special

It’s quiz time again, and, with today seeing the official opening of the London Olympics, what better way to celebrate than with an Olympic-themed science quiz? Unfortunately, we couldn’t persuade Danny Boyle to direct a spectacular opening paragraph for us, so let’s instead get right down to the questions…

 Round 1 – Athletics

First up is athletics. Can you just as easily rattle off stats about Olympics athletic events as you can about the natural world? Then this round is for you.

1. Which is the greater distance – the circumference of the Large Hadron Collider or the length of a marathon?
2. Which of these lengths of time is greatest: the amount of time it takes light from the sun to reach the earth or the world record time for the men’s 3000m steeplechase?
3. Which is heavier – an average ostrich egg or a women’s discus? Read more

The Friday Quiz – 20th July

Welcome to the second installment of the Friday quiz, this week featuring more pictures to identify, a rather tenuous London Tube station/ornithology link up, and even more besides. So without further ado, let’s get to it…

Round 1 – Original names

These are the original names of scientific discoveries which we now refer to rather differently. Can you identify how these are all known today?

1. Dephlogisticated air

2. Brontosaurus

3. Primeval atom hypothesis Read more

The Friday Quiz

Welcome to the first instalment of what will hopefully become a regular feature – a Friday quiz!

The quiz is divided into five sections (the subjects of which will change each time). Some, but not all, are Google-able – but what’s the fun in that? Have a go, and feel free to pass comment below (but don’t reveal the answers!).

Round 1 – London’s pioneers

All of the following blue plaques dedicated to scientific pioneers can be found somewhere in London. However, we’ve obscured the names – can you fill in the blanks? Read more

Science Events in London: 25 June – 1 July


The Royal Institution and the US Embassy in London join forces for a special lecture to introduce the RI’s American Collection. Letters, manuscripts and artifacts form the backdrop to the lecture by Thomas Karl on what we know about the Earth’s climate and how we know it. 7-9pm; booking essential.


Not an event so much as a special exhibition from Imperial College today: Beautiful Science is an exhibition put together by a mixed group of biomedical scientists and artists to look at the different ways to represent science in art. Hosted at the Brick Lane gallery, today is the first day open to the public. 1-6pm; free.


Shark! There has been a disappointing lack of shark themed events in London lately, but ZSL puts a stop to that with Our Shark Obsession, a special public lecture by Washington Post environmental correspondent Juliet Eilperin on the complex relationsip between humans and the oceans’ top predator. 6:30 – 8:30; free but book.


To be an artist during the Renaissance was, for many, to be an anatomist. Is this still true today? And do Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomical drawings have any relevance to contemporary medical practice? These questions and more will be addressed in The Art of Anatomy, the latest event in the Wellcome Collection’s brain series at 7pm; tickets free but limited to two per person and booking is essential.


Another chance to have a go at String Theory at the Royal Institution tonight, but only if you are a member; the Friday evening discourse is called The Pointless Universe and features Michael Green looking at ways throughout history science has addressed questions from the origin of the universe to sub atomic particles. 8pm start; free for members, £15 for guests. Smart dress.

You can follow blog’s London Google calendar of events at Updated daily.


As well as our regularly maintained calendar, you can find lots of other suggestions of science-y events in London. We have compiled a list of some other places to look: we will continue adding to this list, and please do, as always, send us additions for it:

Collections and calendars

Londonist recommendations: All things scientific, technical and geeky

Ian Visits: A calendar of all types of events in London, including science and engineering, with added editorial

Museums, societies etc:

Wellcome Collection: Regular events and exhibitions of a medical flavour at the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road

Royal Institution: Miscellaneous science and policy events

Royal Society: Science, policy and conferences

ZSL: Zoological Society of London; occasional events on conservation and zoology

Hunterian Museum: Part of the Royal College of Surgeons, with a treasure trove of specimens and surgical paraphenalia

University calendars (usually featuring dozens of events per week)




Science Events in London: 18 – 25 June


This month’s Fiction Lab is a Meet the Author special with Jennifer Cryer attending to join the discussion about her book Breathing on Glass. Hosted as always by Jenny Rohn; 7pm start, free and new and old members welcome.


Would You Donate Your Body Parts for Art and Science? That’s the important question to be tackled at the Dana Centre, inspired by the new exhibit in the science museum which is a giant block of resin encrusted with human milk teeth. Milk teeth perhaps not so seriously missed… but how far would you go? 7 – 9pm; free but booking essential. Read more

Science Events in London: 11 – 17 June


Science and music is the apparent theme of the moment and it continues at the Dana Centre this week with Guitar Zero: The Science of Learning to be Musical. Ian Tucker, Commissioning Editor of the Observer, Gary Marcus, Professor of Psychology and Director of the New York University Center for Language and Music and David Mead, acoustic guitarist, writer and teacher, will be your hosts as they discuss how anyone can learn to be musical. 7pm; free but booking essential. Read more

Reaching Out: Public Lectures at Gresham College

Science Online New York (SoNYC) encourages audience participation in the discussion of how science is carried out and communicated online. To tie in with June’s event which looks at how scientists reach out of the ivory tower, communicating science to the public, we’re hosting a series of guest posts on Nature blogs. We will hear from a range of contributors: scientists, writers, enthusiasts, communicators, events organizers, policy makers and teachers, each sharing details about how they engage and reach out to the public.

James Franklin is Communications Manager at Gresham College, an independent educational institution in Central London which provides over 100 free lectures a year. He has a background in website management and online sub-editing. He is a Master of Philosophy born and raised in the Isle of Man. Read more