Scientists sometimes get stereotyped. But why are scientists depicted as chronically shy, slightly odd and carrying out crazy experiments to try and take over the world? Of course it’s only Bond villains who are plotting world domination and most scientists are lovely sociable people. But the stereotype has to come from somewhere…Those involved in scientific pursuits have not always been models of professionality. The path of scientific progress is littered with bitter rivalries, eccentric behaviour and outright deviousness. Some did disgusting experiments and faced personal danger or ridicule to give us brilliant scientific insights. But what all of these people of science had was an insatiable curiosity. Science isn’t always a smooth linear route to building slowly and relentlessly to greater truths. There have been bumps, backward steps and blind-alleys.

This talk explores some of science’s more colourful characters and experiments. Expect sword fights, electrocuted frogs and buckets and buckets of wee.

Kathryn Harkup is a chemist and author. She completed a doctorate on her favourite chemicals, phosphines, and went on to further postdoctoral research before realising that talking, writing and demonstrating science appealed a bit more than hours slaving over a hot fume-hood. She currently writes a monthly poison blog for the Guardian and gives regular public talks on the disgusting and dangerous side of science. Kathryn’s first book was the international best-seller A is for Arsenic, which was shortlisted for a Mystery Readers International Macavity Award and a BMA Book Award.

Chairman – Savilian Ken Allen