Edinburgh Science Festival to be ‘Ideas Factory’

The Ideas Factory will be open for business at the National Museum of Scotland during the Science Festival. Picture: contributed

The Ideas Factory will be open for business at the National Museum of Scotland during the Science Festival. Picture: contributed

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THE Capital will be transformed into a living, breathing “Ideas Factory” in April as visitors are invited to take part in the mind-expanding programme for the 27th Edinburgh International Science Festival.

With high-profile guests such as stunt rider Danny MacAskill and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Peter Higgs on the bill, organisers hope this year’s extravaganza with be the biggest yet, after attracting around 90,000 visitors in 2014.

Daredevil BMX star Mr MacAskill will return to the Capital to take part in an innovative discussion about the nature of focus and what drives him to achieve his extraordinary feats on two wheels.

The former employee of Macdonald Cycles, in Morrison Street, became a global stunt riding phenomenon after a video of him leaping from the Macdonald roof across an alleyway to the neighbouring Copy Stop garnered more than 34 million views on Youtube.

Nobel-prize winning physicist Peter Higgs will be heading up the illustrious list of scientists and speakers taking part in the festival.

The Edinburgh University emeritus professor gave his name to the so-called “God particle”, which explains why matter has mass.

Other acclaimed speakers include former hostage Terry Waite, who was held captive in Lebanon for four years in the late 1980s, joining neuroscientist Sir Colin Blakemore to discuss his experience in captivity in an event exploring mental resilience.

Controversial former drugs tsar Professor David Nutt will deliver a keynote public lecture where he will discuss making cannabis and Ecstasy legal for treating patients in Scotland. In “Why Scotland should lead the Neuroscientific Enlightenment” Prof Nutt, former UK Government advisor on drug policy, will reflect on the regulation of drugs and alcohol and call for a revamp of attitudes to harmful drugs.

The festival has been such a success that it has expanded into a number of venues in recent years to meet demand, including Summerhall and the City Art Centre, according to director Amanda Tyndall.

She said: “We had 90,000 people last year and it is getting bigger every year so we are definitely expecting crowds.

“The overall theme is the ‘Ideas Factory’ so our plan is to transform the city into a hub of ideas for two weeks.

“We have got workshops all over the place, with Summerhall as our control centre, so we are looking forward to seeing it all in action.

The popular food and drink festival GastroFest is back after its first successful year and the organisers have expanded shows for families.

There will be plenty of events aimed at curious people who might not realise they are interested in science, she said.

Ms Tyndall said: “We have lots of these science for the sociable events, as I call it, for people who don’t think they are interested in science but they are interested in food and music, and how it is made.

“We also think hands-on 
science shouldn’t just be for kids so there will be events for adults who are itching to get involved.

“I think if there is anyone who can’t find something that interests them then I will eat my hat.”

This year will see the festival’s first ever club night called Full Spectrum, where partygoers will enjoy an audio-visual experience produced with Astrojazz and Adventures in Light.

There will be a big focus on all things brain-related as the festival joins forces with the British Neuroscience Association for the “Brainwaves” strand, who are bringing their 50th biennial conference to Edinburgh for the first time.

Little ones will be able to get handS-on at a variety of exciting events at Summerhall.

Dino Day will features robotic dinosaurs, Velma the Velociraptor, a dinosaur dig, dino dressing-up and a special easter-egg hunt for youngsters to find out more about the creatures.

The popular mini-maker fair will return for a second year featuring 50 of the UK’s most exciting innovators who will showcase their work.

A stunning outdoor photographic exhibition will be held in the weeks leading up to the festival in St Andrew Square, in partnership with the Royal Photographic Society.

Inspired by the UN International Year of Light 2015, the Light Works exhibition will take a virtual journey through the electromagnetic spectrum from gamma rays to radio waves, showing how different kinds of light are is used in science, technology and medicine, with 50 images taking us from inside the human body to the edge of space. The free exhibition will open on March 3.

Councillor Steve Cardownie, city festivals and events champion, said: “The Edinburgh International Science Festival is always a key highlight on the spring calendar and this year’s programme looks set to be just as jam-packed.

“The council’s City Art Centre will once again be transformed into a place of pioneering science and magic, and there will be a host of events and activities on offer for families over the Easter break.

“Every year the festival also features lectures from world-leading scientists and speakers, and a highlight for 2015 will be an insight from Professor Peter Higgs who was a recipient of the Edinburgh Award for his influence on this city.”

The Edinburgh International Science Festival was founded in 1989 and has hosted speakers including Professor Richard Dawkins, TV physicist Brian Cox and Dolly the Sheep creator Professor Sir Ian Wilmut.

For the first time the Festival will be running the #SciPals Student Ticket Scheme, which offers half price tickets to students in full-time education at a huge range of events.

In partnership with new Festival sponsor Siemens, students can now enjoy a lunchtime talk for £2.50 or an evening event for £4.

The Edinburgh International Science Festival runs from Saturday, April 4 to Sunday, April 19. The full details of the 2015 programme can be found at www.sciencefestival.co.uk.

Tickets for all events can be booked online or through the box office on 0844 557 2686 from 11am tomorrow.

Game of Thrones, Jedis, gin and physics to ‘blow your mind’

A BRAINWAVE-themed ceilidh, the science behind gin, and the chance to disect a robot are just some of the highlights of the 2015 programme.

This year’s Edinburgh International Science Festival will host more than 300 events for inquiring minds of any age at venues across the city.

The “Brainwaves” strand – in partnership with the British Neuroscience Association – will include a debate on neuroethics staged as a courtroom drama and a ceilidh where a fiddle-playing scientist will lead dances which demonstrate neural patterns.

The highly successful Gastrofest, above, will return for a second year to explore molecular gastronomy and how stimulation of other senses can influence taste and the eating experience. In “Gin-omics for Generation Gin” the distillation of the spirit will be explored.

Fantasy fans can enjoy “The Science of Game of Thrones”, which asks whether the phenomena present in the best-selling books and TV series could be possible.

“Blow Your Mind Physics”, left, will explore the magic behind scientific experiments and equations while wannabe Jedi’s can find out how a light sabre actually works in the exciting session “The Science of Star Wars”.