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Stories both gruesome and fascinating about headless chickens, the discovery of LSD and human guinea pigs in early research on the digestive system thus blended into a wide-ranging discussion of how science research works, the human dimensions of innovation and the need to maintain simple curiosity about the world.The whole event had an eighteenth-century salon sort of feel to it, reminding me of the history room of the Natural History Museum of London that explained the popular craze for science during the Enlightenment, when crowds would gather for public lectures and experiments on everything from astronomy to the recent discovery of electricity.Gradually she began to notice a new signal that could not be explained.She and her team mused over possible explanations from aliens to simple human interference for months, until she discovered several more and they began to make sense of them.In Jocelyn’s words, scientists simply test hypotheses that human minds have come up with, but we need minds of great diversity and creativity to continually imagine new models to be tested.This is why diversity in science research is important for the discipline itself; we need people from a variety of different backgrounds to perceive and imagine the world in multiple new ways.

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She also believes that much thinking needs to be done on how humanity will handle this encounter, should it ever happen.While I am used to the idea that my work by its very nature is shaped by my cultural background and personal outlook, the discussion among the speakers saw subjectivity mainly as an attack on their professional rigour as scientists.Their calculations were based on maths, and therefore had to be completely objective; any sense that mathematics was simply another system devised by humans of a particular society to make sense of the world seemed to have been lost.Unfortunately, there were no perpetual motion machines or live demonstrations of the powers of electricity on Saturday.