Research inspires Science Festival events

A wealth of activities inspired by the University’s research feature in this year’s Edinburgh International Science Festival, in keeping with the Festival’s theme of life, the universe and everything.

In family drop-in activities at the National Museum of Scotland, visitors can discover how satellites help monitor Earth from space, and how supercomputers can solve big challenges.

Hands-on activities

Those taking part can create a 3D engineered pop-up structure to take home, or interact with robots to find out how and why they can understand and imitate people.

Families can learn how maths underpins nature and helps us understand the Universe, and discover the materials and technologies needed to build a lab on another planet.

Visitors can get hands-on with human and animal body-themed activities to find out how science will advance future medicine, or discover how their age in years compares with the biological age of their body, brain or DNA.

Researchers will show how they are using science to make cancer treatments safer and more effective.

Dozens of interactive pop-up activities are free to enjoy at the SCI-FUN Roadshow, such as visual illusions, solving a crime, or understanding the shapes of coins.

Exploring research

At Our Dynamic Earth drop-in sessions, scientists will reveal what it takes to survive polar extremes, and show how satellites are helping researchers manage forests in Scotland and beyond.

As part of Experimentarium drop-in activities at Summerhall, visitors can play games to shed light on how language evolved, or build outdoor public spaces to learn how they affect our health.

Among bookable workshops at the Museum of Scotland, visitors can create plastic films to see how they interact with light, learn about computer code, or use coding to enable a robot to communicate with the world.

Participants can learn to make spectacular potions with unexpected effects, understand how nature inspires the creation of novel materials, or learn how our immune cells protect us from disease.

Festival favourite the Chemistry Show returns with a lively set of colourful experiments, while Dr Bunhead brings his trademark style to the festival in his shows, Rubbish Puppets’ Trip to Mars and the Easter Egg of Doom.

Inspiring art

Among events for adults, art inspired by ideas of the natural and the artificial features in the Synthetica exhibition at Summerhall, showcasing the work of international artists Marta de Menezes, Oron Catts, Ionat Zurr, Tarsh Bates and Ting-Tong Chang.

Two film events focused on the passing of time are a Timelapse Masterclass with filmmaker Walid Salhab and Nicolas Philibert’s documentary Nénette, about a 40-year-old orangutan in a Paris zoo.

In a workshop combining art and cell biology, with Professor Bill Earnshaw, participants will be led in creating artwork inspired by the images of dividing cells under the microscope.

Medical advances

Stem cell treatments and their progression from bench to bedside will be discussed by Professor Anna Williams and Dr Tilo Kunath, while the role of big data in developing personalised treatment will come under the spotlight in a panel discussion with Professor Sarah Cunningham-Burley and others.

Antibiotic medicines, and how to tackle infections resistant to treatment, will be discussed by Professor Mark Woolhouse, while disease expert Dr Amy Pedersen will talk about illnesses you’ll hope never to have.

An interactive session will explore imaging in heart research, while the latest developments in Alzheimer’s disease will come under scrutiny in a panel discussion featuring Dr Tara Spires-Jones and Professor Craig Ritchie.

The potential offered by gene-editing using CRISPR technology will be laid bare by a panel of experts including Dr Andrew Wood and Professor Bruce Whitelaw, while its likely ability to target hereditary disabilities and diseases will come under the spotlight in a separate event with Dr Sarah Chan.

Brain injuries in contact sport in light of concerns about concussion will be explored by Dr Alan Carson, while an event focused on fear, featuring Dr David Carmel, will consider what draws us to the horror genre, and why we are afraid of seemingly innocent things such as clowns.

The positive effects of bilingualism on children’s development and perception, and some of the challenges this raises for families, will be examined by Professor Antonella Sorace.

Ethical issues

The moral challenges posed by intelligent machines such as self-driving cars will come under scrutiny in a panel discussion featuring Dr Mark Sprevak, while elsewhere the question of eating less meat to benefit the planet will be examined by Dr Isabel Fletcher.

Members of the public are invited to join in a spring clean of the Water of Leith, as part of the Science Festival, with a tale from storyteller Dr Alette Willis.

Clean energy in the form of solar power, in the quest for a carbon-neutral future, will be considered by experts including Professor Neil Robertson.

An open day at ECCI will showcase low-carbon developments including vehicles, e-bikes, start-up businesses and student-led initiatives. The Centre will also host a Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas discussion exploring climate change.

Exploring materials

Materials with extraordinary properties and novel uses will be at the heart of an introductory session examining their use, with Professor Chris Hall.

A separate event with Dr Olof Johansson considers how light can be used to manipulate magnetic materials, and their potential for information storage technology.

Expert in fire safety engineering Dr Rory Hadden joins author Helen Keen to explore the fantasy and fact of ice and fire.

Complexity of life

Exploration of worlds beyond our own comes under the spotlight in a discussion about the search for dark matter and dark energy with Professor Michaela Massimi, Professor John Peacock and Professor Alex Murphy, while Professor Charles Cockell will examine some of the most searching questions about life elsewhere in the Universe.

The survival of life on Earth, and the impact of extinction, are explored in a talk by dinosaur expert Dr Steve Brusatte.

Booking events

Tickets are available via the Edinburgh International Science Festival website, or by phone on: 0844 557 2686.


Homepage and social media image © Douglas Robertson