In the same week that Stephen Hawking delivered his BBC Reith Lecture on the nature of black holes, Brighton Science Festival returned to the city to fill in those super massive gaps in your knowledge. The truth is out there – all you have to do is buy a ticket.
Throughout February the festival is hosting over 70 events at various theatres, galleries and pubs around Brighton. Trying their best to escape the classroom associations of the subject, the organisers have gathered a cast of pop science presenters, comedians and engaging experts to explain the hard bits.
There’s ton of activities for kids over the half-term (go here to see all that), but there’s also plenty of entry-level stuff for the curious layman. Here are some of the highlights.
HERDING HEMINGWAY’S CATS
Last year Dr Kat and Helen Arney hosted a show about the scientific exploits of the Victorians which probably went down a storm with Brighton’s steampunks. This time round they’re tackling the mysteries of DNA. Sassy and smart, the real-life science sisters combine academic know-how with novelty songwriting to help you get a better grip on genetics.
The Basement, Friday 12 February, 7.30pm, £8/6
LEVEL UP HUMAN
If you’ve ever listened to The Infinite Monkey Cage you’ll know how excited – and funny – Robin Ince can get when he’s got an idea in his head. He’s joined here by a panel of boffins and funny buggers (Simon Watt, Kat Arney and Jules Howard) for a lighthearted panel debate on human enhancement – taking in gene splicing, transhumanism and body modification.
Sallis Benney Theatre, Wednesday 17 February, 7.30pm, £8/6
FESTIVAL OF THE SPOKEN NERD VS PROFESSOR ELEMENTAL
Brighton rapper, Prof Elemental, pits his pith-helmet chap hop (like hip hop, but with more khaki and tea) against a trio of performers who go by the rather excellent name Festival of the Spoken Nerd. If science lessons had this much music and jokes you probably would’ve learned something first time round.
The Old Market, Thursday 18 February, 8pm, £12/10
WHY FACEBOOK WON’T GET YOU ANY MORE FRIENDS
You know the type. You met them once at a gig and now they’re spamming you with invites to events you’ll never go to. Some people collect Facebook friends like Xbox achievements, but Robin Dunbar has proof that there’s a limit to the number of people anyone can really know. It’s 150 apparently, and since he’s an Oxford professor you better believe it.
Sallis Benney Theatre, Wednesday 24 February, 7.30pm, £6/3
BIG SCIENCE WEEKEND
The finale of the festival is a weekend of talks and demos at the university theatre. There’s so much going on you can probably duck in and out and still learn more than you ever gleaned from Wikipedia. The range of topics is pretty diverse as well: Do animals cheat? Where did HIV come from? What do psychedelics tell us about our brains?
Sallis Benney Theatre, Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 February, 9am-5pm, £9/6
We’ve got two pairs of tickets to give away – to any of these shows. All you have to do is leave a comment on our Facebook post here telling us the name of your favourite scientist. To make sure we’ve got your contact details you also have be on the SOURCE mailing list to qualify (sign up here). The winners will be announced on Monday 8th February.