Monthly Archives: February 2011

QED: a scarf’s story

As most of you will know, a couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the QED conference in Manchester. It was a truly excellent, if over-stimulating, weekend, and I’m only now coming properly back down to earth!

I wanted to do something to contribute to the fundraising aims of QED, so I turned to my main creative outlet: crochet. I crocheted a long, stripy scarf that turned out utterly awesome (even if I do say so myself…) and it came along to meet all of you wonderful people at QED. Now it’s home from that adventure and it’s ready for its next: being sold on eBay to raise money for the National Autistic Society! Please check it out, and throw down a bid if you’re feeling generous.

Now let me tell you a little more about it!

The scarf had a wonderful time at QED. It made its debut appearance at the Gala dinner, where it was very excited to meet ace physicist, TV presenter and all-round legend Jim Al-Khalili:

It thoroughly enjoyed the comedic talents of Helen Keen and Matt Parker and couldn’t believe its luck when it got a cuddle from Matt afterwards. From his expression, I can only assume that Mr. Parker was equally excited to meet scarf.

The scarf was then introduced to Merseyside Skeptic Society’s Mike Hall, who posed briefly with scarf and yours truly, before running off with scarf to show it off to all and sundry.

At some point in its gallivanting, scarf was honoured to get a rare photo-opportunity with the almost-legendary Giant Book of Fantastic Facts, which has, for privacy reasons, asked for its true identity not to be revealed. It’s a hard life being a skeptical celebrity, especially if you’re only a few inches tall.

Scarf was safely returned to me in time to be introduced to the wonderful George Hrab, QED emcee and general cool dude. Geo elevated himself to the highest heights of awesome by recognising not only that the scarf was crocheted, but also by commenting on the technical difficulty of making the cut-out letters. Geo, I salute you.

After a well-earned night’s sleep, scarf was delighted to take part in the 10:23 challenge, and as expected, suffered no ill-effects from the homeopathic “overdose”. Then, just before lunch, scarf marched right up to the wonderful Simon Singh to grab a photo, although it was a little bitter after feeling upstaged by Simon’s hair!

Scarf was very excited to meet mathematician/juggler Colin Wright, and it even had a go at some juggling!

Finally, the scarf couldn’t just up and leave without saying hi to Merseyside Skeptics’ Marsh and Nicola, who were very tired and a bit bemused by scarf’s approaches, but posed for a photo anyway!

So that’s the scarf’s story. I just want to say a big thank-you to everyone who posed with the scarf, it really meant a lot to it (and to me)!

Please do check scarf out on ebay – all proceeds go direct to the National Autistic Society (one of the charities QED was officially supporting) and I promise you it is soft, warm and totally made of awesome.

QED part 2

It’s breakfast time on day 2 of QED and I thought I would take the opportunity to update you all on yesterday afternoon’s high jinks!
We had a fantabulous, if somewhat mindboggling, talk about the possibility of time travel from Jim Al Khalili, which was followed by Chris Atkins telling us all about the cult of celebrity. His talk was as hilarious as it was scary, and featured guest appearances, appropriately enough, from Max Clifford, Simon Cowell, Amy Winehouse, one-fifth of Girls Aloud and Bob Geldof! Chris French, ghost hunter and psychologist extraordinaire, was up next, and he gave us a fantastic insight into the psychology of haunting experiences.
The talks were rounded off by the awesome Steven Novella who told us all the ways our brains fool us – his talk could be subtitled “Why our brains kind of suck”, he told us!

As if all of that wasn’t enough, the evening Gala dinner and entertainment was epic! I had the pleasure of sitting with Jim Al Khalili who proved himself to be a wonderful dinner companion – we talked about everything from physics to linguistics to football! His reaction to the video Matt Parker played was also quite amusing!!

We also were entertained by the fantastically enthusiastic Helen Keen who talked at a hundred miles an hour about space, and was truly great! People, see her show! We finished the night with a set from George Hrab, which was great, and because I’m running out of superlatives, I’ll leave it at that!

The QED scarf was excited to meet Jim Al Khalili, Matt Parker, George Hrab, Mike Hall and lots of others! If you see it, come say hi!

QED part 1

It’s lunch break at QED and lots of skeptics are eating sandwiches in the hotel bar!
This morning has been excellent! Bruce Hood opened proceedings with a talk about our apparent in built tendency to believe supernatural things such as mind-body duality and essentialism. He was a super, funny and engaging speaker, and I am certainly going to seek out his book!
We then had Kat Akingbade who was obviously incredibly nervous but had some interesting things to say about the perception of religion by atheists and skeptics, and vice versa. I must admit I disagreed with some of her positive aspects of religion – but as I said on Twitter I actually prefer some disagreement, since without it we’d risk becoming a bunch of skeptical yes men…
We then had a great panel about Ghost Hunting with Hayley Stevens, Trystan Swale and Chris French. They really complimented each other with different perspectives on the same subject and I enjoyed their humorous anecdotes too!
I have made a crocheted QED scarf which will be auctioned for charity and I’d love to introduce it to as many people as possible! If you see a tall girl with plum-coloured hair and an awesome scarf – come say hi!!

It’s almost time!

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for ages! I’m getting ready to head to Manchester for QED! I’ll hopefully be putting up a few posts throughout the weekend, especially on the subject of the awesome, global, 10:23 campaign! And if you’re gonna be at QED then I can’t wait to meet you!