As a Science communicator and one of many insignificant humans – especially in the face of such an ancient object – I find myself extremely excited by the prospect of seeing comet ISON on the Eastern Horizon on the 3rd of December. The last time I was this excited by something in Science it was one our our own acheivements of putting Curiosity on Mars (which I got up very early to watch). This is wonder and grandeur of a more primal nature, free of human interaction, something truly transcendent. It may be something many of us will never see the like of again and so to miss out this time would be a terrible shame. So what is so special about this particular lump hurtling through space?
Comet ISON has come from the Oort cloud which is a large region filled with such relics at the very edge of this solar system. It is believed to have remained in the Oort cloud until it was ejected by the gravity of a neighbouring star. This has led to our star (the Sun) tugging on the comet and pulling it ever closer towards it.
What is so special about this comet is that due to its current trajectory it will pass very close to our Sun indeed. This has earned it the name “sungrazer” as it will pass through the Sun’s corona; the extended outer atmosphere of the Sun. This is a perilous journey for this mass of what is believed to be mostly rock, gas and ice, as the Sun’s rays may obliterate it entirely. This, however, is what will give us our best view of it. As the comet comes into contact with ever increasing ultra violet radiation we can be promised a spectacular view of its tail on its approach. There exist three possible outcomes for ISON at this point as outlined by Dr Matthew Knight from Lowell Observatory in Arizona.
One of the other key features of this event is what we may in fact learn from our encounter with this object. One of the theories that abound as to how water ended up on Earth, and therefore made it agreeable for the development of life, was that comets delivered it here in the form of water ice. There is an abundance of ice throughout the solar system, water ice caps even exist on Mars and the moon Titan contains solid methane which might also be called ice. On our planet though, it is water of a particular type (low deuterium concentration) that is conducive to the development of life; water giving us the medium within which chemicals can mix to become simple amino acids. This event incidently reminds me of a lecture I attended by Lee Cronin about how we make inorganic chemical compounds do more. For an interesting insight into this take a look at the work at Cronin Labs. When the comet passes by scientists hope to analyse the make-up of ISON’s tail to see if there is water vapour there that might indicate the presence of water similar to that on earth. The implications for this would be that if water exists on bodies like ISON that they may indeed have delivered water to us and moreover make the notion that water based life exists elsewhere alot more plausible. Whatever we observe, Comet ISON will surely provide some wonderful insights into the history of our particular planetary neck of the woods.
This week, many students discovered the impending academic staff losses that are on the horizon at The University of Central Lancashire. They are not pleased. Many of them are proud to be students at UCLan and some of that pride comes from the mentoring and encouragement that they’ve been afforded by inspirational personal tutors, module leaders and lecturers. Sure they have a job description and a certain amount of contact time is mandated, but in the Psychology department at least, there are many students that see them go above and beyond their mandate to enhance the student experience. I love UCLan as a brand and as an institute for education, having worked and studied here for nearly four years it pains me to see the current situation because it’s obvious that here, it’s the students that really matter to the academics which is something management need to take into account. Read the rest of this entry
Ethical approval: The UCLan PSYSOC Ethics Committee has approved the study: ‘Reactive and Proactive aggression: Factor Analysis of existing measures’. Unique Reference Number: PSYSOC 074_amendment.
My name is Rachel Schofield, I am a PHD student studying Forensic Psychology at the University of Central Lancashire. My supervisor is Dr Nicola Graham-Kevan. I would be most grateful for help with my research, it would entail completing a questionnaire that should take approximately 20 minutes to complete. All participation is voluntary. My research is to explore Reactive and Proactive Aggression.
The purpose of the study is to investigate Reactive and Proactive Aggressive acts and Personality traits. Certain questions are of a sensitive nature such as aggressive acts and antisocial behaviour. Please answer questions honestly, if a question is too sensitive please leave blank rather than answer falsely.
All questions are for research purposes only and all answers are completely confidential. The purpose of the study is to investigate the relationship between aggression and personality traits. The types of aggression are; emotionally driven (Reactive) and goal driven (Proactive). Questions will include your engagement in antisocial behaviour/acts – some of which are criminal offences; therefore some questions are of a sensitive nature. Please answer questions honestly, if a question is too sensitive please leave blank rather than answer falsely. Please DO NOT write your name on the questionnaire as all answers are anonymous. Only group data will be used for this research and therefore no one can be identified by what they have written. You may withdraw from the study at any time up until your questionnaire is submitted. Upon completion of the questionnaire contact details for the researchers and sources of support will be provided.
If you are interested in participating please CLICK HERE
Thank you for your time and your participation is greatly appreciated.
Researcher: Rachel Schofield: Email email@example.com
Supervisor: Dr Nicola Graham-Kevan: firstname.lastname@example.org University of Central Lancashire
A few weeks ago I was asked by the Stockport Humanists if I could present a wreath at the official Remembrance civic ceremony. I was extremely happy to help and also honoured to be asked to take part in a day that has particular importance to me and all other serving and non-serving military personnel past and present. Imagine my surprise to be contacted a little later and told that I was not allowed to lay a wreath as an official part of the ceremony to pay my respects. Certain individuals and organisations including The Rt Revd Robert Atwell have the opinion that “we remain clear that this is a religious ceremony and wish it to continue as such” (Jan 14th 2013). This is also particularly galling when bolstered by the words of one local councillor who exclaims that there was “no stomach” to take on the church in a recent telephone conversation.
As an ex-soldier and Humanist, I have served in Afghanistan and as a communications liaison in Pakistan and feel that I have developed certain insights into the role of religion in conflict, remembrance and wider society. Having recently started work as a Neuropsychology Researcher I also seek to understand the mind set of those that claim to preach peace and equality when their holy books clearly condone war (against the out-group and allowing for interpretation of course). Non-religious people in the forces deserve representation at the official part of this most important civic ceremony. Indeed, having served in areas of the world where religion plays a major, often central and ever divisive part in external and internal conflicts, I can see a greater need for a non-religious representative at such ceremonies rather than another one that caters to the pious community.
The Stockport Humanists have attended the remembrance ceremony over the past couple of years and have remarked in an article that “with fewer and fewer people, including service personnel, attending church or practising a faith, is it really appropriate to have an overpoweringly religious tone to this occasion?” They have then petitioned the local council, The Royal British Legion and local Church to try and make this civic ceremony more inclusive. I for one think it is inappropriate to have an overwhelming religious sentiment at an event that should be designed to be inclusive. After all, the point is remembrance, not religious observance. The Humanists proposed a slight change in format in the form of war poetry, interspersed with names of the dead; instead of 25 minutes of prayer and sermonising. We think that everyone can get behind such moving and often sublime art; it also makes the ceremony more about the soldiers’ experiences which does them more justice than any amount of hypnotic chanting. At the very least one official representative of the non-religious to lay a wreath would be appreciated. Both suggestions were denied.
On the point of Religious observance in the Military, the MOD do keep a record of how many religious and non-religious personnel they employ in a publication called the United Kingdom Defence Statistics. It might surprise you to know that in 2012 there were 148,550 Christians, 520 Buddhists, 820 Hindus, 80 Jews, 650 Muslims and 130 Sikhs. What about the non-religious though? Well there are 26,180 of us in the Military which seems to be conveniently overlooked in Stockport. In fact, the non-religious far outweigh all non-Christians. At the Stockport ceremony there were even representatives of the Jewish and Islamic faiths representing their 80 and 650 personnel respectively but still no non-religious representatives. Are we then to believe that this is inclusive; it looks rather more like it is inclusive as long as you aren’t non-religious!
Further to this, the Military does actually recognise the existence of many non-religious belief types as detailed in the Guide on Religion and Belief in the Armed Forces. Currently, the British Humanist Association actually has a little bit of web space on the British Forces website and an active organisation within the Military (UKAFHA) for which we are grateful. Add to this the fact that in the 2013 British Social Attitudes Survey, 48% of the entire nation identify as non-religious. It then stands to reason that a group recognised by the Military and by wider society, has an equal right to be included in the official civic ceremony (it’s not a religious event) especially when minority religious groups are afforded the opportunity. To my mind, religion is only one of many aspects of Remembrance, but their representatives are far from the only people able to perform this duty. To claim that Remembrance is centrally a religious event, is tantamount to saying unicorn husbandry is part of agricultural events; which is of course ridiculous. More seriously, it seeks to alienate those of us that are not religious, which to any reasonable onlooker indicates that an equal right to express our thanks to our fallen comrades is not observed.
The concept of equality will resonate with anyone familiar with Humanists. If we have any core ‘belief’ as such, as I’m sure the majority of other atheistic world views will agree, it is that of equality under humanity and hard won understanding of what it is to be human, rather than through membership to psychologically tribal religious group. As we strive to achieve equality for all and highlight the part of reason in an enlightened society, it is only right, or rather morally necessary, that we are afforded some of that reasonable equality ourselves, especially when it comes to paying our respects to the military, the actions of whom, religious and non-religious, have helped to develop and preserve much of our society today.
Note: All quotations and statistics come from correspondence between organisation representatives and UKAFHA members, one media article and official government statistic records.
Many people would love to think that when faced with a life of death decision, that they would do the right thing. But, is it really that simple? If you are in the PRESTON area and would like to see how you fare, we would really appreciate you taking part in the following experiment by booking in with one of our research assistants. Thank you.
During the following experiment you will be asked to fill in some basic demographic information, and take part in a study where you will be asked to respond to some visual demonstrations of ethical dilemmas. The visual demonstration will result in an ethical dilemma where a negative outcome will occur unless you choose to intervene, in which case a different negative outcome will take place. You will have a time limit to decide whether to intervene or not, you can choose not to act, or intervene by pulling a lever. Overall, we anticipate this will take you 5-10 minutes. We would ask you not to participate if you are under the age of 18. Read the rest of this entry
*RESEARCH* Twitter, intervention, the NHS and Equal Marriage: Moral intuition and Reasoning in relation to different types of Moral Problem
Think about what is happening in the world today. Should the West intervene in Syria and Eqypt, is whistle blowing in the NHS safe for the employee, was it right to pass the Equal Marriage bill in the UK, and should twitter take legal responsibility for it’s platform? Each of these prominent questions includes a clear moral aspect, as do many of our day to day decisions. How do you think you would fare when being faced with specifically, life or death decisions?
The following experiment asks you to fill in some basic demographic information (gender and age), then respond to a series of ethical dilemma scenarios. We anticipate this will take you approximately 10 minutes, probably even less. We would ask you not to participate if you are under the age of 18.
The ethical dilemmas in some instances require you to make very difficult decisions which would involve the ‘death’ of an individual or individuals described in the scenario. Therefore we would advise that you do not participate if you think this may cause you distress. You can also withdraw your participation at any time by simply closing the browser window. The moral dilemmas are however used frequently in research on ethical decision making and we would anticipate they would not cause you undue distress.
Should you decide to take part your participation is anonymous. This means therefore you would be unable to withdraw your data at a later stage should you wish.
The data we collect will be submitted for publication with a journal and used in presentations/talks, etc. You will not be able to be identified from the data however due to its anonymity.
If you are happy to proceed please indicate your willingness to do so, by clicking below.
Social and Cultural factors have long been blamed for the development of eating disorders in females and also more recently in males too. Do shows like The Apprentice in 2013 with pretty much only fit, slim attractive women and highly publicised women like Kim Kardashian cater to this perfect body ideal, or is there more to it than just media portrayal? In order to evaluate the socio-cultural model of eating disorders (EDs) it is first essential that a definition of an ED be provided and an explanation of the socio-cultural model given. Following this the model shall be broken down into its three component parts in order to indicate the importance of those areas within the concept and the validity of the model as a whole.
Update, 18/07/2013; Equal Marriage Bill to recieve Royal Assent.
A land mark case for equality and testament to the values of fairness, equality and democracy. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was passed in the House of Commons on February the 6th 2013, 400 votes to 175, a majority of 225.
As well as an achievement for society and homosexuals this is especially poignant for those whom like myself, adjusted their views on homosexuality as a youngsters when presented with evidence to the contrary of an erroneous and pernicious opinion. Your opinion, just like mine is not of interest when the facts are weighed, especially if it stems from a religious proclivity seeking to enforce inequality and deem homosexuals to be sinful. Read the rest of this entry
We are presenting at The Big Bang North West on Wednesday 26th June at St Georges Hall and the World Museum in Liverpool. Along with all the amazing activities that are already available we are presenting a look at basic DNA manipulation and neuropsychology.
What is DNA?
DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid which is a chemical found in the nucleus of cells in everything that: grows, runs, flies, swims or does a little bit of all of that like we do (flying with the assistance of a perfectly serviceable aircraft of course).
“Over the last few days thousands of people have written to their MPs to support the legalisation of humanist marriage, which is due to be voted on tomorrow or on Tuesday. Have you joined them yet?” – British Humanist Association. We are one of the most active organisations promoting marriage equality in the UK and around the world. We hope to one day be the best, and importantly, least prejudice provider of marriage services in the UK upon recognition. Marriage is for all, and no religious organisation should try to have a monopoly on the expression of love on the grounds of their particular tribal values, and sadly more often than not, their prejudices. Read the rest of this entry