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Updated: Event, 2020 Vision

Breaking news, official statement from organisers: “Cambridge Science Festival has taken the very difficult decision to cancel hands-on activities over the two weekends of the Festival. The weekends are our busiest days with thousands of families visiting venues such as the Guildhall to take part in interactive events. The health and safety of our visitors, researchers and volunteers is our most important priority and we therefore feel this is the most appropriate decision to take at this time. We still have lots of talks and events on offer and at the moment, we have been advised that there is no reason to consider cancelling public lectures.However, we are very mindful that the current situation is changing rapidly and decisions are made daily. We ask people to check our website regularly for updates.”


The 26th Cambridge Science Festival, run by the University of Cambridge, will be hosting a staggering 390 events from March 9 to 22 at venues across the city. The theme for the festival is ‘vision’ and a huge range of events and activities will explore how scientists are working to understand and solve some of the greatest challenges facing us today.

Join talks and debates on topics as diverse as how the use of artificial intelligence is shaping the future of work from policing to fashion, how inequalities influence future wellness, and whether it’s too late to regulate the internet. Discover what it takes to be a polar explorer, or find out more about organoids, miniature versions of organs, and how important they are for biomedical research.

Take your family to the Family Gaming Night at the Centre for Computing History and have a go at retro classics such as Pac-Man and Space Invader. Revel in messy play in the colourful world of bugs, germs, bacteria, viruses and parasites, or immerse yourselves in the science of snot (and why snot?). Follow the new trail around the Botanic Garden, and marvel at the interactive art installation exploring the Climate Bee-Mergency. Definitely one for my list is the special exhibition tour of the Whipple Museum which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

Festival manager, Dr Lucinda Spokes, says: “The programme this year is focussed on ‘vision’: where we were, where we are, and where we hope to be. Science offers huge possibilities to change the course of our planet for the better. With this year’s programme, we hope to inspire and excite our visitors about these possibilities.’ Reading the brochure, there are inspiration and excitement aplenty on offer.

2020 Annual WiSETI Lecture: You Could Die of Infection

The rise of drug-resistant superbugs is, frankly, terrifying. Professor Dame Sally Davies, newly- appointed Master of Trinity College and former Chief Medical Officer, spent nine years leading the Government’s international campaign on antimicrobial resistance. Who better to tell us what is being done to tackle this emergency?

Wednesday, March 11, 5.30-6.30pm at Churchill College, Wolfson Hall, Storey’s Way, Cambridge CB3 0DS; free, pre-book.

Chemistry in Action

This is a day for scientists aged from eight to 98! Students and researchers from the Department of Chemistry will be leading hands-on activities that explore the endless fascination of chemistry. Fancy creating your own clouds or making toothpaste for an elephant?

Saturday, March 14, 10am-4pm at the Department of Chemistry, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1EW; ages 8+, drop-in, free.

The Diet Disco!

This sounds like fun – exhausting but fun. Researchers from the Clinical Research Facility at Cambridge University Hospital will be investigating which songs raise heart rates the most by measuring heart rates before and after you dance to your favourite songs. How long do you have to dance for to burn off that chocolate bar or that glass of wine? They would very much welcome embarrassing dance moves from parents, just saying ...

Saturday, March 14, 10am-5pm at The Guildhall as before; all ages, drop-in, free.

The Chemistry of Light: A Demonstration Lecture by Dr Peter Wothers

We forget that light hasn’t always been available at the flick of a switch: before the invention of modern electric lights, the only way of making light was through chemistry. In an exciting demonstration that promises plenty of flashes and bangs to keep you on the edge of your seats, Dr Wothers will take you on a journey from the earliest uses of oil lamps to the more exotic elements used in today’s electrical devices – you'll even see how chemical light helps the forensic scientist investigate crime scenes.

Saturday March 14, 11am-12pm, 1.30-2.30pm and 4-5pm; Monday, 16 March, 7-8pm, at the Department of Chemistry, BMS Lecture Theatre, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1EW; ages 8+, pre-book, free.

Imagining Science: Visions of the Past and Things to Come

Take a walk with the Society of Cambridge Tourist Guides and see where Cambridge scientists have worked to deepen our understanding of our world, to probe other worlds, and to develop cutting-edge solutions to everyday problems.

Saturday, March 14, 11am-12.30pm and 2-3.30pm; Monday, March 16 to Friday, March 20, 11am-12.30pm; Saturday, March 21, 11am-12.30pm and 2-3.30pm. Meet outside St John’s College Great Gate, Trinity Street, Cambridge CB2 1TW; all ages, pre-book, free.

Attraction Explained: The Science of How We Form Relationships

ARU’s Professor Viren Swami, one of the world’s leading experts on the psychology of romantic attraction, draws on cutting-edge research to debunk modern-day myths of attraction. Sorry to tell you but there’s no such thing as the ‘laws of attraction’, but that’s not to say that factors such as geography, appearance, personality and similarity don’t affect who we fall for and why.

Saturday, March 21, 4.30-5.30pm, at Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge CB1 1PT; age 15+, pre-book, free.

The 2019 Cambridge Festival of Ideas takes place from March 9 to 22 over many different venues. You can download a programme, find out about accessibility, and book tickets from sciencefestival.cam.ac.uk or call (01223) 766766.

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