Tag - jack cohen

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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Books for Xmas: Better Angels, Wired for Culture and . . . SOD4

SOD4New Optimist Jack Cohen irreverently refers to the latest Science of Discworld novel which he co-authored with Terry Pratchett and Ian Stewart as “SOD4”.

Be that as it may, it’s a great read as you’d expect from three such scientifically informed wits — so a good pressie to give this Christmas-tide.

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Birmingham Post Science Blog round-up 27-08-2011

The latest posts at the Birmingham Post Science Blog turned their attention to the desire for the cold hard facts of science. Or rather, why such a desire isn’t necessarily helpful. First of all, there was Jack Cohen‘s post about the Archaeopteryx and how its status as the ‘missing link’ between birds and reptiles has been refuted.

This presents a crucial if often misunderstood aspect of science – scientists’ views of the world change, based upon new evidence.  And this very point is followed up by Russell Beale, who blogs about the fluidity of scientific theory and the way that these theories are developed and refined over time. This also covers the value of change, and the potential problems that come with so many people’s desire (need?) for certainty.

You can read more from the New Optimists at the Birmingham Post Science Blog here.


Round-up: Face to Face with the New Optimists

Here’s a quick recap of the interviews we’ve posted so far in our Face to Face series. We’ve got more of those coming soon, and if you click here you can leave your questions which you’d like us to ask the New Optimists.

Jack Cohen talks about reproductive biology:

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Face to Face with the New Optimists: Jack Cohen on complex networks

In this second part of our Face to Face interview with Professor Jack Cohen, the author and biologist talks about complex networks and

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Face to Face with the New Optimists: Jack Cohen on reproductive biology

In the first of a new series we’re running called Face to Face with the New Optimists, we spoke to Professor Jack Cohen. An Honorary Professor of Mathematics at Warwick University and a Fellow of the Institute of Biology, Jack has written several books including the Science of Discworld series.

His essay in The New Optimists is about reproductive biology, the science behind why we look like and inherit traits from our ancestors. The first part of our interview here looks at emerging theories, in particular changing theories around genetics

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Ten New Optimists & the new Birmingham Post Science Blog

Brilliant news! The New Optimists are joining forces with the Birmingham Post to write a Science Blog, we suspect a first for a regional paper.

As well as yours truly, these are the interesting bunch of people who’ll be contributing

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Are human fossils our ancestors?

New Optimist Jack Cohen — also reproductive biologist and Honorary Discworld Wizard — has sent me his surprising response to a recent Nature article, The evolutionary context of the first hominins by Bernard Wood and Terry Harrison. Here it is:

Are human fossils are ancestors? If it seems obvious to you that the answer is Of course they are! reflect for a moment about the 1924 discovery of an ancient 3-year-old child’s skull in South Africa, named Australopithecus africanus by Raymond Dart.  Obviously, this Taung child was nobody’s ancestor!  But was its species ancestral to ours?

This is a very interesting question,

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Honorary Wizard of Unseen University & my family’s webbed toes

Who do you look like? Have you ‘inherited’ your Uncle’s ears or your grandmother’s smile?  In my case it is webbed toes – and before you ask, no, I’m a lousy swimmer.

It seems obvious that children look like their parents, but this is worth much more thought than many of us give it, and that’s where New Optimist contributor and Science of Discworld author, the reproductive biologist Professor Jack Cohen comes in.

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Bad science, good science

I had lunch yesterday in Lydbrook in the Forest of Dean. One of those perfect days, sun, good food, great conversation and all in an utterly lovely, rural setting — that 200 years ago was an industrial hub, a place then far bigger than Brum. Times change, eh.

The company included three scientists.

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