Researchers play key role in Science Festival

Published: 27 March 2019

Experts from across the University of Edinburgh are sharing their knowledge with audiences at Edinburgh Science. The festival, with the theme of frontiers, runs for two weeks from 6 to 21 April.

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Family Events

Events for families at the National Museum of Scotland include a wealth of free drop-in activities.

Visitors can hear what biologists have recently discovered about animals, plants and other living things and make their own discoveries under the microscope, or step inside a giant cell to learn about cancer treatments.

Scientists will demonstrate how they are exploring the DNA of animals to bring health and wellbeing benefits, and medical scientists will show how research and technology are pushing frontiers.

Also at the Museum, mathematicians will use computer simulations to help visitors navigate through the stars and planets.

Design Spotlight

Participants can also discover how chemists use computers to find hidden patterns in nature, to inspire design of products from penicillin to plastic.

The natural patterns in coral can be experienced up close at a drop-in event with experts at Our Dynamic Earth.

Design is in the spotlight at a pop-up engineering activity at the Museum, where visitors can choose a 3D structure to make, decorate and take home.

Robot design – how and why machines can understand and imitate humans – will be discussed by experts.

Visitors can learn how big data is helping mental health discoveries and play a computer game to help plan research projects.

Workshop Activities

Researchers from the University will deliver a series of bookable workshops at the Museum. Visitors can enjoy games that explain how our bodies’ immune cells keep us healthy, and make sticker stories to take home. A workshop at Summerhall will focus on how the kidneys filter our blood.

Physics experts will present a workshop at which visitors can learn how to make obscure potions with spectacular effects.

Technology is at the heart of two further workshops. These offer an introduction to computer programming, with the chance to learn coding and explore video games, or the opportunity to create and operate a computer.

Live Performances

The Chemistry Show returns to the Festival with vibrant, colourful experiments, while Dr Bunhead brings audiences his Puppet Mission to Mars.

Also at the Museum, a show features a young girl who is helped to understand when to speak, and when not to.

Among events for adult audiences, research involving animals will be under discussion. A panel of experts will talk about developments in alternatives to using animals in studies, while the use of genetically modified insects to tackle disease will be in the spotlight.

A close look at how animals think, and how this might influence our relationship with them, will also take place.

Health Focus

Women’s health will come under scrutiny in an update on research into endometriosis and in a discussion about the future of fertility.

A sensory workshop lets participants experience what happens when the heart beats, while a discussion centring on diabetes focuses on changing approaches to patient care.

The workings of the brain are examined in a focus on decision-making and in a look at how music helps dementia patients.

Motor Neurone Disease researchers and charity experts will chat about recent developments and the use of a digital collaboration between scientists and patients.

The impact of air pollution – and the chance to track your own exposure with a wearable sensor – will come under the spotlight.

Technology Talks

Sensors that track physical activity will be scrutinised in a talk by informatics experts, while engineers and technologists will discuss how far inventions need to go to deliver the stuff of our sci-fi dreams.

The use of data science for medical diagnosis will be under discussion, while experts will give an overview of the use of synthetic biology and its applications such as in drugs, biofuels and medical tests.

The influence of natural designs on man-made technologies will be discussed by experts.

Elsewhere, computer scientists will explore how Google translate can interprets more than 100 languages – and when it reaches its limitations.

Sustainable Ideas

Paths to a sustainable future will be under discussion at a Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas event at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation.

Elsewhere, botanists take a journey into the inner workings of plants, and audiences can learn about newly developed heat batteries that could tackle heat poverty.

Edinburgh graduate and sustainable fashion designer Aurélie Fontan will discuss how her work is inspired by science and biodesign.

Her work will be on show as part of a festival exhibition at Summerhall.

A screening of Yulia Kovanova’s short film Plastic Man will be followed by Emma Davie’s film Becoming Animal, exploring how the written word and technology has affected how we see the world around us.

A look at the evolution of man will focus on our eating habits, and why we cook our food, while the highlights of recent research in palaeontology will be the topic of the University’s Tam Dalyell Prize Lecture.

Elsewhere, astronomers will share insight into planets beyond our solar system.

The University of Edinburgh is delighted to be playing a key role in the Edinburgh International Science Festival, which again promises a wealth of fascinating activities and events for all.

Professor Jane Norman, Vice Principal People and Culture


Find out more and book events at Edinburgh Science.



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