Uncaged Monkeys

I find it heartening that a thing like Uncaged Monkeys exists. While I doubt science based entertainment will ever reach the stadium busting state that stand-up comedy did a few years ago I hope the trend continues.

The format worked well and was a lively cross between lecture and stand-up routine. Most of the comedy was handled my Mr Ince but the others more than held their own keeping the audience engaged. The topics covered included Simon Singh with a quick overview of cryptography which included a live demonstration with a real Engima Machine. Foxy Coxy waxed on about the LHC’s search for the Higgs Boson and the evolution of the Cosmos. Being so enthusiastic about the subject he also overran making the first half of the show quite long.

There was a musical interlude by the rather charming geek songstress Helen Arney who played a few songs on her ukulele.

Due to the over-run of the first half the second half started with a very brief question and answer session with Cox and Singh. It’s a shame they didn’t get to do more but I did find the answer to the question “What’s the biggest small thing in the universe?” fascinating. After the Q&A there was a little section on mapping the genetic history of humans were I learnt some interesting facts about earwax. The presenter Professor Steve Jones painted himself as a Dawkins lite but was funny and engaging nevertheless. Finally the energetic Ben Goldacre ran through the placebo effect and how to design drug trials. The data he presented about trail bias was was slightly concerning. Although he had no qualms about rubbishing the quack pill pushers it seems even the proper scientific approach of the big pharmacology companies is not averse to being gamed to show one treatment is better than another. Finally Cox brought the evening to a close introducing an audio clip of Carl Sagan musing on the Pale Blue Dot.

Although I was familiar with some of the material from Ince’s previous show Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People I still learnt new things at this one. I hope the trend for taking science out to the people continues and I look forward to going to more like it.