School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences

Edinburgh International Science Festival: minds, machines, language and dark matter

The School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences will be present once again at the Edinburgh International Science Festival to light it up with activities, discussions and public lectures

The Edinburgh International Science Festival is turning 30, and will host a wide array of activities from Saturday 31 March until Sunday 15 April on topics such as “Future life”, “Life on earth”, “Human lives and society” and “Life beyond the earth”.

Staff from the School of PPLS at the University will contribute to this yearly festival with drop-in activities, discussions and public lectures.

Where do we go from here?

Do you want to learn about artificial intelligence and what developments await us in the future?

On Tuesday 3 April, philosopher Dr Mark Sprevak will discuss alongside other experts the possibilities of letting machines make decisions about life and death and the moral implications of applying ethical decisions with algorithms. Interested? This public discussion takes place in the Dissection Room at the Summerhall.

Science Festival - Who Lives and Who Drives?

On Wednesday 4 April, Professor Michela Massimi will talk about dark matter, dark energy and how this might make up a great deal of the cosmos. Even more, learn the special methodologies that researchers use to study dark matter. This discussion takes place in the auditorium at the National Museum of Scotland.

Science Festival - Searching for Dark Matter and Dark Energy

The mind and beyond

Do you sometimes feel you're a different age to what your birth certificate says?

You and your family can learn about how the body, mind and even DNA might have another say on your ‘official age’ with this family-friendly drop-in activity presented by the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE). CCACE is a research centre in Psychology which looks at how and why our mental skills change as we age.

“How Old Are You Really?” takes place from 10am to 4.30pm on Saturday 7 April to Monday 9 April in the Learning Centre (Level 2) at the National Museum of Scotland. 

Science Festival - How Old Are You Really?

On Saturday 14 April you will have the opportunity to learn about the latest research on dementia and the search to cure Alzheimer’s disease.

Professor John Starr and Dr Tom Russ from the Alzheimer’s Scotland Dementia Research Centre based in Psychology will host this discussion in the auditorium at the National Museum of Scotland.

Science Festival - What Does the Future Hold for Dementia?

Let’s talk about language

From 11am to 4pm on Monday 9 to Friday 13 April, the Main Hall at the Summerhall will host a drop-in activity to explain how human language has evolved.

Fancy being a cell of shaping a brand-new language? Then make sure to play and learn with this activity designed by the Centre for Language Evolution (CLE), based in Linguistics and English Language at PPLS.

Science Festival - Experimentarium: Creating Communication

Finally, learn about bilingualism and the positive effect it has on children with linguistics Professor Antonella Sorace at 7pm on Thursday 5 April.

“Bilingualism matters” takes place at the Education Centre of the Edinburgh Zoo.

Science Festival - Bilingualism Matters

Edinburgh International Science Festival

The festival is a celebration of science and technology, taking place each year during the Easter break. It was the first of its kind in the world and is still one of the largest science festivals in Europe, with almost 300 events running each year.

Related links

Edinburgh International Science Festival

Mark Sprevak

Michela Massimi


Alzheimer Scotland Research Dementia Centre


Antonella Sorace