Science At The Heart of Edinburgh


The Edinburgh International Science Festival today launched its full programme, its largest and most diverse yet, set around the theme Science at the Heart of Everything.

If that theme is a hypothesis, the programme certainly seems to provide ample evidence for declaring it true. From what you put in your mouth to how you mark your ballot, there’s scientific depths to a myriad of human experiences waiting to be explored.

Interested in food? Check out Gastrofest, a mini-festival within the festival focusing on the science of food and drink in a most delicious way. Explore molecular gastronomy, find out about growing and eating our way to a better world, or pop into a science-inspired famers’ market with demonstrations from BBC chef Mark Greenaway.

Interested in craft? The Making It strand of the programme will culminate in a return of last year’s popular Mini Maker Faire, a chance for the stars of Scottish DIY to show off their creations. In the meantime, head to the National Museum of Scotland to experiment with a 3D printer or get involved with a series of practical workshops at Summerhall.

Interested in the Independence debate? The Scotland Decides series of events will take audiences through the many conversations surrounding this year’s independence referendum from a scientific perspective, bringing up new issues and shedding new light on old subjects. Even the psychology of voting itself will be explored.

Interested in Art? Science at the HeART of Things is an exhibition and installation programme at Summerhall, showcasing artists whose inspiration springs from science. There will also be an event where artists and scientists will ponder what they have in common: Anatomy of an Artist: The Chemistry of Collaboration.

Interested in Reading? The Reading Experiment is a campaign to encourage audience engagement with science writing, from sci-fi to poetry to popular science. Author talks, workshops and events will include an exploration of the science of Scottish crime writing and question who should write about science. Launching this March, the festival’s SciKu competition will ask entrants to create a ‘science haiku’, so start putting those syllables together.

Interested in lunch breaks? The Lunchtime Science sessions will give you food for thought while you munch, with hour-long sessions in two strands. Food for Thought, brought to you by the authors of the popular Very Short Introduction To… series, will cover everything from the Ice Age to anxiety, while Healthy Lunches explores health-related topics.

Interested in late nights? Evenings at the Science Festival’s LateLab will delve into the intersections of art, technology and food, while on the 16th of April a fashion show of wearable technologies is sure to wow fashion and science followers alike with designs from the likes of CuteCircuit, Katy Perry’s favoured costumier. If dancing is your thing, head along to the Science Ceilidh with dancer/psychologist Peter Lovatt and neuroscientist Lewis Hou and get an expert opinion on your moves.

A true embodiment of the theme is this year’s recipient of the Edinburgh Medal, given annually to someone whose work is considered to have significantly improved the understanding and wellbeing of humanity. Professor Mary Abukutsa-Onyango of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has spent two decades seeking out sustainable solutions to the simultaneous challenges of obesity and malnutrition in Africa. You can hear her speak at the Edinburgh Medal Address on the 9th of April, or catch her as special speaker at the Feast of the Commonwealth Gala Dinner on the 11th.

Peter Higgs, last year’s recipient of Edinburgh Medal (and subsequently the Nobel Prize in Physics), will appear at the Queen’s Hall on the 9th of April in conversation with Professor Frank Close, another world-renowned physicist. This will be one of the first public appearances Higgs’ has made after becoming a Nobel Laureate, and promises to be a fascinating insight into this Edinburgh resident’s intellect, work and life.

And don’t forget kids! The Science Festival’s incredible children’s programme is stronger than ever, taking over the City Art Centre and transforming it into a world of adventure and learning with activities such as Energise! where children can venture through a giant digestive system. Over at Summerhall, interactive shows and workshops will teach youngsters skills like screen-printing and video game design, or be given the opportunity to be a mathematical superhero. If you were wondering how to fill up your Easter Holiday, look no further.

We’ll let Amanda Tyndall, Deputy Director of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, sum it all up: “This year’s Science Festival will see hundreds of the best and brightest minds in science and technology gather in Edinburgh to debate and celebrate some of the biggest and sometimes controversial ideas in science. For two weeks the city is the perfect melting pot for discussion as we explore the ideas that place science smack‐bang at the centre of all of our lives”.

The Edinburgh International Science Festival runs from Saturday 5 to Sunday 20 April 2014. For information and tickets, check their website.

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