Royal Society lates: fakes, forgeries and misinformation

02 March 2023 18:30 - 21:30 The Royal Society Free
Visitors at an activity stand at the Royal Society Lates event.

This event was an evening exploring scientific fakes, forgeries and misinformation. Remarkable scientific stories were told through artefacts housed in our extensive, world-class archives, including the story of the first Fellow ejected from the Royal Society for ‘diverse frauds’ and a more recent perpetual motion machine.

Browse the evening's events and activities that got up close and personal with AI-generated art and speak to experts on cryptocurrencies, false memories and faking it in the natural world.

Events and activities

Fake or fortune

Join the Bank of England Museum in a test of your skills - can you spot the fakes? See forged banknotes of the past up close and explore the methods used to protect our currency. From social history to science and technology, come and see items from their collection which are not normally on display.

Flies, fakes and sneaky shapes

From fake bees to morphing butterflies, Dr Erica McAlister and Dr Beulah Garner introduce the often overlooked inhabitants that live alongside us. Come and have a look at specimens from the Natural History Museum collections, including the Piltdown fly.

CLIP-CLOP: AI-assisted digital collage generator

Come and see artwork created using CLIP-CLOP, an open source AI-assisted digital collage generator, and speak to the researchers, Dr Dylan Banarse, Dr Chrisantha Fernando and Dr Piotr Mirowski, who developed the technology.

Create your own mythical creature

Published in 1587, naturalist Conrad Gessner wrote the first animal encyclopedia which featured dragons amongst its menagerie. Travel back in time to this era of exploration and discovery to create your own fantastical creature with the help of artist Tim Pond. Give your cryptid a name and place it on the map. 

Adam Savage vs the perpetual motion machine

Among the artefacts housed at the Royal Society is a curious device purporting to be a perpetual motion machine. Watch this video where Tested host Adam Savage and our own archivist, Virginia Mills, explore the backstory of this mysterious object and try to uncover how it works, before checking out the machine yourself in the Wellcome Trust lecture hall.

Piltdown - the man that wasn't

In 1912, the sensational ‘discovery’ of ‘Piltdown Man’ was announced to the world. Join the Natural History Museum’s Professor Chris Stringer as he reviews the most famous scientific hoax in history and current thinking who was behind it.

Edible painting

Grab a free ticket at the information desk to this workshop with our professional chefs and create your own artwork using crumbles, purees and chocolate.

The frauds and marvels of Rudolf Raspe

The extraordinary fabulist, Rudolf Erich Raspe, became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1769 but was rapidly ejected for ‘diverse frauds’. Join Keith Moore from our library team as he retells the shady career of Raspe as a con-man, thief and accidental literary great.     

Cryptocurrency scams and frauds: a cautionary tale

Cryptocurrency scams and fraud have become increasingly prevalent in recent years, with victims losing millions of pounds. PhD researcher Arianna Trozze explores current research on these crimes as well as what may lie in the future for cryptocurrencies.

Challenging misinformation

Bringing the discussion up to date, join journalist Julie Gould as she talks to a panel of experts, Professor Frank Kelly, Dr Alessandro Siani and Dr Bnar Talabani, as they explore the challenge of misinformation in the online age and how to tackle it.

What we can learn from fakes

It seems that fakes are everywhere – very few domains of social life are exempt from concerns about fakes. While fakes are often considered worthless, Professor Patricia Kingori from the University of Oxford explains that fakes can signal blind spots in our understanding of health-related matters, revealing latent power dynamics and attempts to subvert them. This talk draws on Patricia’s extensive research from the art world, and history of medicine to explore and what some of the case studies can tell us about fakes in domains of health and medicine.

How brain diseases affect our memories

Join Professor Paresh Malhotra as he delves into the diseases that cause impaired memory, and current controversies affecting this critical area of medicine.