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A Guide to the Oxfordshire Science Festival
Image Credit: Oxfordshire Science Festival - iStock-Neutronman

A Guide to the Oxfordshire Science Festival

7 June 2017 |

‘Science – or the products of science like technology – is just a way of achieving something real, something that happens, something that works.’ These are the words of Britain’s most outspoken scientist: Professor Richard Dawkins. Dawkins will be opening the Oxfordshire Science Festival in June, kicking off a week-long series of talks and events all around the city dedicated to celebrating that achievement of ‘something real’. Naturally, we’ve put together a handy guide to give you a glimpse of some of the scientific wonders in store.

Faces of Social Media
 
‘You may love social media, but does it love you back?’ If the answer is no, most of us are in trouble. Our lives are so enmeshed with the digital that social media can start to consume our entire social world. In this talk at the Sheldonian Theatre, Computer Science Research Fellow Jason Nurse will be exploring cyber social networks through some of the most popular social media platforms, and help you to weigh the benefits against the risks of maintaining an online presence. As various platforms begin to integrate with the Internet-of-Things, Jason offers tips on how to protect yourself and your family from some of the darker forces of cyberspace.
 
‘Faces of Social Media’ will take place on Friday 16 June, 6:15 – 7:30pm at the Sheldonian Theatre, Broad Street, Oxford OX1 3AZ
 
The Acoustics of Nature
 
Microphones are ubiquitous these days and the tech is down to a fine art – but could their design be revolutionized by biology? Who knew that the devices we use on a daily basis, from mobile phones to hearing aids, might well be improved by the hearing habits of bugs. In this fascinating talk at Oxford Town Hall, engineer Rob Malkin will be explaining how studying insects with certain hearing organs could hold the key to allowing us to build more sophisticated, ‘bio-inspired’ acoustic devices. This talk was awarded the annual Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award Lecture by the British Science Association, so you know it’s going to be a good one.
 
‘The Acoustics of Nature’ will take place on Saturday 17 June, 5:30 – 6:30pm at Oxford Town Hall, St Aldate’s, Oxford OX1 1BX


Image Credit: Oxfordshire Science Festival, iStock-Pelooyen

 
The Cloud Factory
 
‘The Cloud Factory’ may be a children’s workshop but we reckon parents will be jostling to join in: who hasn’t wanted to grab a handful of cloud? You’ll be manufacturing clouds right in front of your eyes in the Oxford Town Hall. Try taking a cloud shower, taste different flavours of cloud and even pop cloud bubbles in this fun and immersive session, with award-winning science presenter Sarah Bearchell. The event is ideal for families with young children through to teens.
 
‘The Cloud Factory’ will take place on Saturday 17 June, 3.15 – 3.45pm and 4 – 4.30pm, and Sunday 18 June, 2.15 – 2.45pm and 3 – 3.30pm at Oxford Town Hall, St Aldate’s, Oxford OX1 1BX
 
Very Short Introduction: Telescopes
 
Nowadays, advanced technologies have created telescopes of phenomenal power. They range from large optical telescopes and radio arrays linking across the Earth’s continents, to telescopes out in space bringing back images of the universe in infrared, ultraviolet, X-rays and gamma rays. But all of them owe their existence to Galileo and his groundbreaking observations of the moons of Earth and Jupiter. In this free drop-in event at Blackwell’s Bookshop, you’ll have the chance to talk to the authors of the Very Short Introduction series and mine their telescopic knowledge of this object’s extraordinary scientific history
 
'Very Short Introduction: Telescopes' will take place on Monday 19 June, 12:30 – 13:15 at Blackwell's Bookshop, 51 Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BQ


Image Credit: Dr Dominik Paquet, Professor of Neurobiology, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany

 
Sex, Lies and Brain Scans
 
Neuroscientists are gradually bringing the workings of our brains into greater focus. One of the current tools for understanding our thoughts and behaviours is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which allows experts to observe some of our brain function as it is happening. Some of the results of this technology have been positive, such as helping doctors to communicate with patients in a vegetative state, but there are also the ethical considerations of reading minds to take into account. Should this technology be introduced more widely? This thought-provoking talk will feature Barbara Sahakian, Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Cambridge, and Julia Gottwald whose Ph.D. looks at cognitive processes in adolescents suffering from OCD.
 
‘Sex, Lies and Brain Scans’ will take place on Monday 19 June, 7 – 8pm at Blackwell’s Bookshop, 51 Broad St, Oxford OX1 3BQ
 
Should We Synthesize Human Genomes?
 
The Human Genome Project – Write launched in 2016 with the modest aim of synthesizing and recoding entire human genomes. This international project is the culmination of research dating back to 2002, when the first synthetic virus – with molecules copied from nature and recreated in a lab – replicated itself. But the project raises questions: should there be limits to what we recreate in the lab? Might science fiction be becoming reality? What does this mean for the future of humanity? A panel including a bioethicist, a science fiction author, and a Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute will be attempting to answer these and more at this event at the Oxford Town Hall.
 
‘Should We Synthesize Human Genomes?’ will take place on Tuesday 20 June, 6 – 7.30pm at Oxford Town Hall, St Aldate’s, Oxford OX1 1BX
  
Oxfordshire Science Festival runs from 16 – 21 June. See the event listings for the full programme and more information.

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