Edinburgh Science Festival returns

Reading time: 4 minutes

The University community will play a key role in the return of the Edinburgh Science Festival this year, with dozens of staff sharing their expertise and insights, leading events and designing experiences for the public.

The festival takes place online and in-person from 26 June to 11 July with a programme that celebrates the power of science and the importance of connection.

One World: Science Connects Us will include more than 200 events, tours, exhibitions and workshops – of which 70 per cent will be available online and free to access worldwide.

“The University of Edinburgh is delighted to once again partner with the Edinburgh Science Festival, to help connect people with the wonders of science and the vital role it plays in all of our lives. After such a challenging period, it is pleasing to see how our academics have used so many creative and innovative ideas to devise events for this year’s programme. We especially welcome the Festival’s concerted effort to champion the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths.” – Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Festival programme

In a year that marks the 20th anniversary of publication of the human genome, the Edinburgh Science Festival will explore how we are all connected – to each other, to the Earth and to the wider universe. The University’s involvement includes exclusive new outdoor walks, tours and trails and a wealth of brand new online events and experiences.

Interactive online activities

The University is presenting a number of interactive events during the Festival including Escape from the Physics Labs, an online escape room, and 70% Water: Life and Science aboard a Research Ship. This live online tour will explore one of the National Oceanography Centre’s research vessels while it is at work on the open ocean.

PhD researchers from the School of Biological Sciences will present a special series of the BioPOD podcasts, looking in depth at how vaccines are developed, mass produced and adapted to combat new variants. In the Glitter Bar: A Makeover Takeover, Environmental Humanities Fellow Dr Nicole Seymour, from the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, will showcase biodegradable alternatives to microplastic cosmetic glitter and explore the idea that environmental ethics will be central to future queer politics.

Self-guided walking tours

Staff have contributed to the creation of a number of self-guided walking tours offering a science festival experience that participants can enjoy at their own pace. Topics include Edinburgh’s mathematical history, geoscience, mental health, and neuroscience.

Life in the Covid bubble: Voices from the frontline of critical care, features interviews with 40 frontline key workers about their experiences during the pandemic. Road to COP26 takes you on a journey around Edinburgh with our researchers, discovering how we’re working towards a more sustainable future, how climate change is affecting Scottish wildlife, from plants to parasites to coral reefs, and how we could reimagine our city. AWEN: A Walk Encountering Nature is an interactive smartphone app that uses AI technology to show the effects of the climate crisis all around us. Audio prompts, triggered during a walk around Edinburgh, will detail how climate change affects the city, including its plants, wildlife and weather.An ariel shot of the University central area

Virtual tours

Our virtual tours are online experiences offering a glimpse behind the scenes into our buildings and research spaces and the work going on there.

There are individual tours of both the world-class Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic and the Institute of Genetics and Cancer while Virtually Explore will take participants to the King’s Buildings Campus. This tour includes behind-the-scenes access to unique facilities such as FloWave and the Genome Foundry, supported by interactive activities and videos, blogs and information points highlighting the work of our staff.

Other events

In our increasingly connected online world, social media has become hugely influential opening up opportunities for greater engagement and better understanding but, simultaneously, leading to the spread of false scientific information and the risk of harmful consequences for society. In Conspiracies, Fake News and False Scientific Information Professor Linda Bauld, Chair of Public Health, will join a discussion panel led by James Naughtie, special correspondent for BBC News, to explore how we can address the problem and ensure that people’s beliefs and decisions are based on facts rather than untruths.

Live and Ticking, hosted by the British Heart Foundation, will examine the everyday problem of air pollution and how it can affect the heart and circulatory system increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Professor David Newby, BHF Duke of Edinburgh Chair of Cardiology, and Research Fellow Dr Mark Miller, both of the Centre for Cardiovascular Science, will provide the insight.

Tam Dalyell Prize lecture

This year’s winner of the Tam Dalyell Prize for Excellence in Engaging the Public with Science, Dr Andrew Manches, gives his lecture on Sunday 27 June. Dr Manches’ work in an emerging research field looks at how we move our hands while talking and explaining ideas. This offers insights into how we think and understand the world and presents a valuable opportunity for early learning. How children gesture could help us better recognise what they know, often before they can tell us in their own words, and how we gesture back may help us explain things better to them.

You can find out more about this year’s Edinburgh Science Festival online, including all our events:Full programme of University events