Cambridge Science Festival is back, here’s our deconstruction
The Cambridge Science Festival returns this month, bringing a smorgasbord of more than 350 science-tastic events to our city. Taking place at venues across the city, there’s a dazzling line-up of talks, workshops, screenings, performances and exhibitions on everything from astronomy to zoology, via a loose central theme of data. Here’s our pick of the bunch.
As ever, the festival will be tackling the Big Questions, including delving into one of the greatest mysteries of the universe: dark matter. Unlike other substances, dark matter does not give off any radiation – its existence and properties are inferred only from its gravitational effects on other, visible, matter. Fascinatingly, it accounts for at least a quarter of the universe and yet scientists understand very little about it. Find out more on 15 March at the Cavendish Laboratory.
“A smorgasboard of more than 350 science-tastic events across the city”
Another hot topic at this year’s festival is artificial intelligence. Are we letting machines take over? Should we be worried about quantum computing and the way it will impact the way we work and live in the future? These and many more questions will be explored. Once the preserve of sci-fi films, the question of whether AI will become superior to the human brain is becoming ever-more pertinent – join a panel of experts featuring Herman Hauser discuss the implications of supercomputers in a debate on 7 March. In a similar vein, the Intelligence and Learning in Brains and Machines event on 15 March will offer a journey through questions about the nature of learning, whether we can build computers that learn and how much information the brain can and might store.
Interested in climate science? Be sure to pop along to the Q&A at the Department of Chemistry on 10 March where they’re promising to answer all the questions about this fascinating topic you’ve always wanted to know the answer to (but have been too afraid to ask). Or perhaps you fancy fooling your senses at a foodie event with a twist: the inaugural Science Festival Dinner. Taking place in the impressive setting of Corpus Christi College on 18 March, the evening will feature a three-course meal designed to play with your perceptions – in a completely delicious way!
Also serving up a tasty treat will be the Science of Ice Cream event on 19 March – when you can learn all about the amazing properties of ice cream, with the help of some liquid nitrogen. Also on 19 March, ThinkCon looks set to be another highlight of this year’s festival, with a stellar line-up of science speakers including Kat Arney and Kathryn Harkup.
Film & Performance
Cult hits, sci-fi, documentaries and silent shorts are all part of the cinematic line-up for this year’s Science Festival, with screenings taking place at various locations around the city. Our pick, though, has to be the showing of creepy classic The Wicker Man at St John’s College Old Divinity School on 16 March, with an introduction by Professor Justin Smith – sure to be a brilliantly atmospheric event. On the live performances front, there’s theatre, comedy and music aplenty, from the professional scientists turned stand-up comics Bright Club, to a performance by the Cambridge Graduate Orchestra. Comedian and TV personality Robin Ince is back at the festival too, offering ‘a fools guide to being less foolish’ on 12 March.
Image Credit: Alice Boagey
Get stuck into the huge range of hands-on activities, tours, workshops and interactive fun. The always popular Science Festival Ceilidh returns, featuring science-themed dances aplenty (think you can keep up with Wave-Particle Duality in 6/8?) on 7 March, and the Science Café will be offering food, drink and science chat in the Market Square on 5 March. We love the sound of the Robogals workshops (various dates), when girls can learn to program Lego Mindstorms robots, whilst the speed mentoring session for women on 10 March at the Department of Engineering offers an enlightening evening for females in any profession.
You can also build yourself an Egyptian coffin at the Fitzwilliam Museum, try your hand at letterpress printing at the Cambridge University Library and discover ways to live more sustainably with Cambridge Carbon Footprint.
Image Credit: John Krzesinski
Embrace a floral theme with Crawling with Life, an exhibition of botanical paintings and drawings at The Fitz (8-16 March), and step into the daring shoes of the Victorian orchid hunter at the University Botanic Gardens (7-13 March). Or on 14 March, go Back to the Future at the Museum of Computing History for an engaging display of artefacts from the dawn of personal computing history.
Other exhibitions on this year’s line-up include a look at the erosion of England’s east coast via a huge projection and soundscape installation by photographer Toby Smith; an immersive video at the Sanger Institute which explores malaria and scientists attempts to combat it; and ISOLATION: a project from the local Changing Spaces artists’ collective which looks at the isolating nature of illness.