In 2015 Edinburgh International Science Festival transforms into The Ideas Factory - a hub for information, ideas and innovation. Audiences are invited to get their thinking caps on as big ideas transform the halls, galleries, theatres and gardens of Edinburgh from 4 - 19 April.
• Brainwaves - a series examining the mysteries of Brain, Mind & Consciousness
• Light & Enlightenment - UN International Year of Light 2015 illuminates Scotland’s greatest minds
• GastroFest - our mini-festival about the science of food and drink returns
• Energy & Environment - a series debating our global climate future featuring IPCC Chair Dr Rajendra Pachauri
• Numbers That Matter - probing big data and the stats behind our lives
• The Reading Experiment - a celebration of science writing in all its forms
• How the Light Gets In - an exhibition showcasing artists working with light• Moral Philosopher Mary Midgley announced as recipient of the Edinburgh Medal 2015
• Nobel Prize winner Prof Peter Higgs heads a list of world-leading scientists and speakers
• Science Festival launches #SciPals half-price scheme for students supported by Siemens
Amanda Tyndall, Deputy Director of Edinburgh International Science Festival, said: “This year’s Science Festival will celebrate enlightened thinking and doing by drawing together shining lights from the fields of science, technology, engineering, philosophy, the arts and beyond, to mull over some of the big ideas, issues and challenges of our time. But it’s not all serious stuff – there are plenty of sociable science opportunities, with events on everything from to gaming to gin, and beauty to beer”.
In 2015 the Science Festival focuses on big ideas and brings together great minds from different disciplines - from makers of new inventions and political policy, to world-class scientists and ground-breaking artists. The programme unites pioneering thinkers and aims to foster dialogue about the future of our culture, nation, planet and global understanding. With events examining urgent questions across a wide range of issues – food, health, energy, environment, mind, art, numbers – the Science Festival calls on audiences to engage with the vital ideas of today and tomorrow.
Leading scientists appearing at the Festival include Edinburgh-based Nobel Prize winner Prof Peter Higgs, physicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, and Gaia Theorist James Lovelock, alongside broadcasters Jim Al-Khalili (BBC’s Light and Dark), Hermione Cockburn (BBC’s Coast), Simon Watt (Channel 4’s Natures Giants) and Helen Keen (BBC Radio 4) who join professionals from a range of other disciplines to debate and generate new ideas around a huge range of topics.
Scottish superstar trials rider and Red Bull athlete Danny MacAskill talks about the nature of focus and what drives him to achieve extraordinary feats (12 April), former hostage Terry Waite joins neuroscientist Sir Colin Blakemore to discuss his experience in captivity in an event exploring mental resilience (9 April), and best-selling author Matt Haig discusses his experience with depression and using mindfulness as a tool for mental well-being (6 April).
In December 2015, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will meet in Paris for the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference. Billed as a make or break international effort to curb global warming, this landmark event serves as a focus for the Energy & Environment series, sponsored by E.ON. Keynote event The Road to Paris features outgoing Chair of the IPCC and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Dr Rajendra Pachauri in discussion with experts and policy makers about the global issues at stake this December, including Scottish Minister for Environment and Climate Change Dr Aileen McLeod MSP. Closer to home, two highly topical debates consider Scotland’s energy future – Black Gold, White Lies? The Truth about North Sea Oil (14 April) investigates how much oil is really left in the North Sea, and what its worth could truly mean to Scotland, while Engineering Our Energy Future: To Frack Or Not To Frack? (9 April) considers each side of the fracking debate and the Scottish Government’s recent moratorium on the matter.
In Brainwaves, the Festival partners with the British Neuroscience Association - as they bring their 50th biennial conference to Edinburgh for the first time - to present a series exploring brain, mind and consciousness. Two keynote public lectures form the centre of this series: in Why Scotland should lead the Neuroscientific Enlightenment (12 April) Prof David Nutt, former UK Government Advisor on Drug policy, will reflect on the regulation of drugs and alcohol policy in Scotland, and calls for a reappraisal of societal attitudes to harmful drugs, and in The Search for Consciousness: detecting awareness in the vegetative state (12 April) Dr Adrian Owen will examine how improvements in human brain imaging changed how we perceive consciousness, with MRI scanning now able to detect cognitive activity in patients once thought to be in vegetative states. Other events include Gender and the Brain (10 April), examining if there such a thing as a ‘male’ or ‘female’ brain, Neuroethics On Trial (10 April) – where the audience turns jury to judge a panel of experts debating whether brain imaging should be admissible in a court of law, we host a special screening of Alex Garland’s critically acclaimed Ex Machina (16 April) with a discussion hosted by BBC broadcaster Dr Alex Rutherford, who acted as scientific consultant to the film, and there’s even a Neuroscience Ceilidh (17 April) from scientist and fiddle player Lewis Hou.
We celebrate the science of food and drink with the return of mini-festival GastroFest, supported as part of Year of Food and Drink Scotland 2015, delivered by VisitScotland and EventScotland. Highlights include science-inspired farmers market SciMart (5 April), an Easter treat for all the family bringing together food producers, researchers and chefs, and featuring demos from award-winning Edinburgh chef Paul Wedgwood. Diners can explore the surprising links between our senses and our taste buds in Sensory Experimentation (9 April) with a series of tasters designed to trick in experiments exploring flavour, scent and texture (9 April), while Give in to Fermentation (15 April) investigates our ongoing fascination with the fermentation process whilst enjoying a series of beer and food pairings. Drink design has now become a science - GastroLab: Molecular Mastery (11 April) unveils the mysteries of molecular mixology with Prof Andrea Sella and drinks developers Zoe Burgess and Max Venning from London's Drinks Factory, and in Gin-omics for Generation Gin (12 April) we examine the distillation secrets behind this rediscovered classic, with a selection of Scottish craft gin tasters.
The UN International Year of Light 2015 serves as inspiration for Light and Enlightenment, a series exploring the beauty, form and function of light and its role as a metaphor for knowledge and enlightenment. On The Spectrum (13 April) investigates the nature of colour and explores how we use, interact with and understand it, and Light Fantastic (4 April) examines the many meanings of light across the spectrum of culture. A Sense of Wonder (15 April) celebrates a hero of Scottish science, marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Edinburgh native James Clerk Maxwell’s ground-breaking theory of electromagnetism. A number of talks examine how light has been used throughout the ages as a metaphor for understanding and discovery - The Enlightenment Debate: Hume vs Reid (17 April) brings this idea home to Scotland, examining the legacy and influence of Scotland’s Enlightenment era thinkers – fathers of our intellectual, economic and scientific modern age.
Far from being the dull end of science and tech, Numbers That Matter highlights how integral statistics are to life in our online information age. Social Media: Spying? Sentiment? Source of Data? (9 April) investigates the realities of social media sharing and asks who truly owns your data, whilst The Computing Universe (14 April) charts the rise of the machine from computing in the 1930s to the modern day. Big Solutions to Big Data (16 April) examines how we capture ‘big data’ and the big challenges and opportunities that come with it, while Australia’s Numeracy Ambassador – and stand-up comedian - Simon Pampena explores the lighter side of maths in The Savant Garde (11 April) - a comedy journey through the hardest maths problems of all time. Those looking for an inspiring night out can enjoy our Lates events - where science, music and art collide - starting with the Festival’s Opening Party at City Art Centre (2 April).
The programme also features the return of hugely popular sci-creative series LateLab taking in subjects as diverse as the Tron movie series in a special Atmosphere screening at the National Museum of Scotland to complement the Game Masters exhibition (4 April), to a scientific look at beauty at the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland in Beauty by Design (17 April). Elsewhere The Science of Game of Thrones (10 April) asks whether the phenomena present in George R.R. Martin’s epic tales could perhaps be plausible, while Electric Tales: The Science Years (14 April) promises a night of comedy storytelling packed with love, competitions and a healthy dose of weird. Late nights include two special new events – The Big Bang Bash (10 April) presented in partnership with the National Museum of Scotland - an out-of-this-world party celebrating the wonders of space and Full Spectrum (17 April) – the Science Festival’s first ever club night – an audio-visual experience produced with Astrojazz and Adventures in Light. The creative crossover continues with a new visual arts exhibition co-curated by the Science Festival, Summerhall and ASCUS Art & Science.
The Edinburgh International Science Festival runs from Saturday 4 to Sunday 19 April 2015.