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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Kritisk Masse - Norway's first conference on skepticism!

I might be a bit biased since I am one of the organizers, but I just have to say how awesome this is!



Kritisk Masse (that means Critical Mass, what an awesome name) has finally released our webpage, and with that announced the list of speakers. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this, Kritisk Masse was started by a group of people in Oslo after the last TAM London in an inspired moment. It's a conference with speakers, panels, entertainment, dinner, and a workshop.

The topic is skepticism. Lately, this has been on my mind so much that I've had to tell peripheral friends and acquaintances (now there's a word I don't spell every day!) about skepticism. Just in case you're new to it too, I'll give you some pointers.

Skepticism is about employing doubt and science in order to find out things about the world. Most skeptics frown upon the use of the word skeptic with some-word-and-a-hyphen in front, such as 911-skeptic, climate-skeptic or vaccine-skeptic. We are not hyphen-skeptics. We are skeptics all round, and we follow the scientific concensus. Let me say that again; we are not conspiracy-skeptics, we follow the scientific concensus.

We believe science, as in psychology, statistics, and a throrough understanding of scams and why people fall for them is a sufficient explanation for most of the paranormal claims we meet.

Sure, paranormal phenomena may exist, but they have not been proven to exist yet. We just want thorough evidence. It seems to us that most people are not aware of skepticism and how useful it can be for orienting in the world and all the offers we get. That's why we need more public efforts like this conference in addition to blogs and our little pub-based community.





So, to the point. The conference is in Oslo, 29. - 31. of October, and the program containts skeptical heroes such as:
Simon Singh
Rebecca Watson
Asbjørn Dyrendal
Erik Tunstad
Kristian Gundersen
and a few more science-based speakers:
Sissel Rogne
Øystein Elgarøy
Bjørn Vassnes


Also, there is an evening of entertainment featuring:
Evig Poesi
Physics-hunk Andreas Wahl
and comedian Iszi Lawrence

More about all these wonderful contributors can be found at our webpage.








Friday, August 06, 2010

Watch a live archeological dig!

Watch live streaming video from arcticdig2 at livestream.com

This is hot! Right now you can watch a live excavation of an ichtyosaur fossils straight from Svalbard! (At time of writing this post there isn't much action there, but by the time you read this there might be)
Several more cameras and english version and lots and lots of more information about the dig and the process is available at http://www.forskning.no/svalbard/ (English)
What a boring, tedious job archaeology is :)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

WWII images photoshopped into modern day

The russian artist Sergey Larenkov has made a series of images where he has taken old WWII photographs and manipulated them into a modern day image of the same place.

It is a nice reminder of how things were 65 years ago, and the pictures are gripping. This series is from Vienna, Prague and Berlin.

Everyone should go check them out at the artist's page.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Astronomical Events in Norway in the near future

It is an astronomically exciting time around here (Oslo, Norway) in the coming months.

On the twelfth to thirteenth of August (that's just in a week and a half!) we'll be taking our yearly trip through the meteor shower called the Perseids. Take a trip out into the night sky and gaze upwards and count the shooting stars! Estimates are upwards of 1-2 per minute throughout the night! This will be visible from the entire world!

On the 21st of December it's not only winter solstice, but we will have a lunar eclipse! All of Northern Europe will be able to see this, although the moon will be close to the horizon so you need a good view. The moon will be dark red instead of its usual cheery bright, and due to its proximity to the horizon it will appear extra large. (It isn't actually larger than usual, it just looks that way, if you want to know why read Bad Astronomy :))

And then the big one, on January 4th, a partial (but very large) solar eclipse. It's in the morning, so the sun will not have risen high (in fact it starts way before sunrise up north here) but if you have a good view towards the horizon in southeast direction you can get a good peek in.

And then finally in mid-March 2015 there's another total eclipse, but this one is only viewable from Svalbard and the North Pole. Field trip, anyone?


I'm looking forward to dusting off the ol' telescope and standing out in the cold!