Is Space Exploration Worth It? Mendeley Debate at the Cambridge Union Society

Space Exploration

Mendeley is sponsoring another thought-provoking debate at the Cambridge Union Society on February 5th, 2015. Scientists and charity experts will come together to place the necessity of space exploration in the context of other pressing global issues, with the motion being put forward is “This House Believes that Space Exploration is Worth the Cost”.

As governments worldwide are faced with tough funding decisions, what is the argument for prioritising this expensive area of research? Should the burden continue to be shouldered by taxpayers or will the emerging trend for commercial space exploration – spearheaded by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk’s SpaceX – change everything? Google’s recent $1bn investment in SpaceX certainly points to an increased appetite in the private sector for exploring the final frontier.

Term Card

Back in October, we sponsored a debate on the issue of The Right to be Forgotten, which you can watch in full below.

This time around, the line-up of speakers discussing the issue includes the Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, Dr David Parker, Science Fiction writer Professor Alastair Reynolds and Aspiring Astronaut and Entrepreneur Christine Corbett Moran, who is also a member of the SpaceX propulsion group.

Unfortunately, previously announced speaker Adriana Ocampo, Lead Program Executive at NASA’S New Frontiers Program was unable to attend due to health reasons. Although we’re extremely sorry not to be able to welcome her in person on this occasion, she will be contributing to our Women in STEM series, so do subscribe to the Mendeley YouTube channel for her upcoming video, coming straight from NASA Headquarters! We want to keep sharing these stories from people like Adriana and Christine, to support and inspire the next generation of female scientists.

If you have any questions or comments, get in touch via Twitter (@cambridgeunion @MendeleyTalks, or @Mendeley_com) and do tune into the Live Stream from the Cambridge Union on the 5th!

Great news, everyone!

Team Mendeley is happy to announce three new members! They’re all brilliant, and terrific people to hang out with, too. The latter is rather important, because we’re going to have a roof terrace at the new office, and what fun would rooftop barbecues be without terrific people? In order of appearance and in their own words:


Ben Dowling is a software engineer at Mendeley, working on Mendeley Web. He graduated with an MEng software engineering degree from the University of Southampton in 2006, where he continued to live and work until moving to London to work for Mendeley. He’s excited to be working on such an innovative project, and is looking forward to life in the big city!

Andi Rutherford is. And when not playing with words, and editing them on Wikipedia, he is also a software engineer for Mendeley Web, and plays a significant role by ensuring that your information is kept secure. He does this by actively trying to hack the site – no joke – this is basically what banks do to ensure your accounts are kept safe. He also has an unhealthy regard for standards, and can be found with the biggest smile when Mendeley pages pass W3C validation.

He comes to us by way of the University of Sussex, Imperial College London, King’s College London, and the Open University too! (I think you can guess how he spends his free time – not so much a bookworm as a bookrabbit). He is actively interested in design especially with regards to usability, and when not learning stuff he is aspiring to become a master calligrapher. Please note, he really does have terrible handwriting, so any level will be an easily quantifiable improvement.

Steve Ridout is a software engineer at Mendeley. He studied computer science at the University of Cambridge and completed his MSc and PhD on computational modelling at the University of Greenwich. During his PhD and later as a Research Fellow, he wrote software for mechanical stress analysis, optical modelling, and risk analysis. Steve is now helping make Mendeley the research tool he wished he had in academia.

When not writing code for Mendeley, Steve occasionally enjoys making games, films, and playing his guitar.


Steve didn’t mention it, so I’ll bring it up: He is also the developer behind Ape Invasion, which he programmed in his spare time to teach himself ActionScript. The dialogues are sheer comic genius, so by all means go there and play the game!