Category - People

The New Optimists Summer Update

FrontPage_TNO_Update_2014I did some totting up in compiling this latest Update. Over 220 people have taken part one way or t’other with The New Optimists.

As you’d expect, a fair few (over 130 and counting) are scientists. Have they had any impact? But of course. They have a book, a Kindle, 27 reports and papers (including the substantial Birmingham 2050 Scenarios Project Report), podcasts and video-interviews to their collective credit.

Plus four great spin-offs — and here they are in order of appearance:

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Elly Vesty, New Optimist, on the advantages of understanding the historical evolution of plants

Elly Vesty’s research makes her optimistic that we can improve food security.  Her work on how, historically, plants have germinated to ensure they grow is about having a core understanding of how crops will grow.

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Over 220 great people involved . . .

I’m writing an update on what’s been going on with us over the last few months. As part of this, I’ve done some adding up.

Over 220 people have been involved one way or t’other. 124 of these are scientists, including social scientists —and of these, 72 are Professors. 46 non-scientists also participated in workshops or other events. Another 9 are already involved on the Narrativium Projects. And a further 22 people have used their talents in a variety of ways to help everything along, from social media to facilitation, from analysing stuff to writing reports . . .

Look at ’em! What stars they are, eh.

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Carolyn Dawson New Optimist – cleaner hands means longer lasting antibiotics

Over the past few weeks we’ve been meeting young scientists new to the New Optimists, and asking them that simple question again: “What makes you optimistic….?” 

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David Broomhead (1950-2014)

DavidBroomheadI first met David in 1999. There were moves afoot to have “something like the Sante Fe Institute” here in the UK — the notion had come from a Unilever bigwig. Warwick’s Ian Stewart told me David was the man to talk to. A brilliant mathematician, he said, and an applied mathematician.

So up I trotted to Manchester to meet this warm, witty man who offered me a wide variety of teas, batting not an eyelid at my preference for builder’s.

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Guide Dogs: support the science behind why they’re so brilliant

GuideDogIs4LifeThe handsome fellow on the left is called Spencer.

His owner is Professor John Hilbourne. To John, Spencer is a highly intelligent, superbly trained guide dog. He’s proved to be a strategic thinker, a calculating, caring animal whose work enables John to lead an independent life.

But his very existence as well as his considerable skills are based on science, hard evidence about what works and what doesn’t.

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Why narrativium matters

It was Terry Pratchett who coined the term ‘narrativium’ as the element upon which we humans run.

HonoraryWizardsIt was New Optimist Jack Cohen who describes us humans as pan narrans, the storytelling rather than homo sapiens. (And Jack and mathematician Ian Stewart joined forces with Terry Pratchett to write the Science of Discworld series, and thereby became Hon Wizards of the Unseen University.)

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Scientists in the city . . . the next generation

Rosie Davies' tweetThey’re a lively bunch, this next generation of brilliant minds in the city.

Nick Booth and I met some of them last week. We’re planning to get what goes on in their minds out to a wider audience; e.g. by live streaming their conversations. Here’s just a couple of awesome examples from the short time we spent with them:

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The New Optimists: The Next Generation

TNO_NextGeneration_EventLogoWe’re hosting two get-togethers this week of rising young stars in the science community. Over 20 men and women, from disciplines ranging from nanochemistry to bioenergy, have already signed up.

The first is this Thursday at Yorks Bakery Cafe — only one place left!

The second is on Saturday afternoon at The Old Joint Stock and has three places left. So, if you’re a post-doc working in a university or research company or lab, or completing your PhD, do come along to meet us. Drinks on us!


Congratulations to New Optimist Professor Yvonne Perrie , , ,

Yvonne_PerrieWe’re delighted to congratulate New Optimist Professor Yvonne Perrie who’s just been elected Chair of the prestigious Pharmacy Schools Council (PhSC).

The PhSC is responsible for representing the collective interests of all 28 UK schools of pharmacy. They give expert opinion and advice on matters concerning pharmacy education from the perspective of UK schools.

There’s more about this on the Aston University website here.


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