Putting science under the microscope at Cambridge Science Festival

PUBLISHED: 14:48 29 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:48 29 January 2020

Cambridge Science Festival is at venues across the city in March. Picture: RICHARD HOWELL

Cambridge Science Festival is at venues across the city in March. Picture: RICHARD HOWELL

Richard Howell Photograhy

Run by the University of Cambridge, the festival examines our past and suggests the future. Some of the world's greatest scientists, and some up and coming ones, examine how science is changing the world.

Predictive policing, growing food underground, and the limits of human endurance. These are some of the 390 events at the 26th Cambridge Science Festival, from March 9-22.

Run by the University of Cambridge, the festival examines our past and suggests the future. Some of the world's greatest scientists, and some up and coming ones, examine how science is changing the world.

Climate features heavily as do health and technological advances alongside fun science quiz events, comedy and theatre.

Both festival weekends have family events, including talks on the fastest animals on earth, strange science facts, hands-on demonstrations with Microsoft HoloLens; robotic workshops; and a virtual reality cycle ride. Festival favourite, Dr Peter Wothers returns for another action-packed talk showcasing the elements involved over the centuries in mankind's quest to light his way.

Further events explore what animals see, and magical maths tricks.

During the second weekend, visitors can get hands-on with cutting-edge biomedical science at the Vet School, find out how CRISPR gene-editing technology can be used to fight superbugs, see how research on the ageing process in dogs can inform human medicine, and how bat conservation could help reduce pandemic risk.

The British Antarctic Survey, Institute of Astronomy, Wellcome Genome Campus, Cavendish Laboratory, and Cambridge museums and university departments will open their doors to the public.

Visitors can discover what it takes to be a polar explorer, study the skies through telescopes, see developments in medical implants, discover why robots are not going to take over the world, and immerse themselves in Virtual Reality.

On Saturday evening, the Centre for Computing History hosts the Family Gaming Night, with games from retro classics like Pac-Man and Space Invaders through to Wii, PS3, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

The final day of the festival focuses on health.

A range of events cover everything from the history of HIV, to stem cells, infectious diseases, cancer and new therapies.

There are also brain training games, a pop-up escape room, and some messy play with the colourful world of bugs, germs, bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungal infections.

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Speakers include BBC presenter Dr Adam Rutherford, Lord Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, Baroness Bryony Worthington, Dr Emily Shuckburgh; Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, and neuroscientist Professor Barbara Sahakian.

On March 9, ExoMars, Europe's mission to discover life on Mars, is discussed by Abbie Hutty, - the challenges and the engineering solutions.

On March 10, International Women's Day, Professor Dame Athene Donald asks why we still have a significant gender pay gap and only 20 per cent of professors are female - in discussion with Cambridge University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stephen J Toope.

Also on March 10, from preventive policing to fashion, how artificial intelligence shapes work.

Plus, the psychological implications of AI - and how health is influenced by where we live, who we live with and what we earn.

On March 11, Professor Dame Sally Davies, the newly appointed first female Master of Trinity College and former Chief Medical Officer, discusses the continuing rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs and what is being done to tackle it.

On March 12, the subject is growing replacement organs, repairing damaged genes and providing personalised treatments for other diseases.

Another theme that day is Smoke in the lungs of the earth.

In 2019 'mega-fires' raged across Brazilian Amazonia and Indonesia's peat swamp forests. On March 16, the question is: Can we regulate the internet?

How can we combat disinformation online?

Should internet platforms be responsible for what happens on their services?

Are these platforms beyond the reach of the law?

Exhibitions, performances and tours include an interactive art installation exploring the Climate Bee-Mergency.

Bookings open at 11am on Monday, February 10. To book and discover the full programme: https://www.sciencefestival.cam.ac.uk/

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