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The Science Festival Bloggers Challenge weekend that was...

03/04/2012 | 11:50
Clicket Blog The Weekend that was... (Fri 30 Mar - Sun 1 Apr 2012)

And we're off! Our crew of Science Festival Bloggers who took up the Science Festival Bloggers Challenge started off to much camaraderie over twitter - virtual hand shakes and hat tipping and creating #esfblog twitter hashtag to meet. Do follow their Science Festival adventures here on Tuesday 3, 10 and 17 April and leave your comments here if you're also sharing the same sentiments on all the excitement that is at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Without further ado, let's read their adventures at the Science Festival this weekend past (Fri 30 Mar - Sun 1 Apr)!

  • Caroline Harrison's Blog Entry: A Frugal Festival?

    So the question is: is it possible to have fun at the Edinburgh Science Festival without breaking the bank?  That was the challenge for myself and my two intrepid young visitors; Megs (14, Historian in the making) and Jen (15, Cook Extraordinaire).

    We didn’t have the best start as, in typical Scottish weather style, we stepped outside and the fine drizzle turned to heavy rain. Lovely! 

    Undeterred we headed to the National Museum of Scotland and took our seats for our first free event.  The Chemistry Show, with Robin Andrews and Paul Murray, which did exactly what it said on the tin.  Chemicals were mixed with wanton abandon; set on fire, frozen, smashed and turned into foaming explosions.  Just the ticket for our morning’s entertainment!  And absolutely top quality for a ‘free’ show.

    The Chemistry Show | Wed 4, Thu 5 April | National Museum of Scotland

    Next up, we moved through the museum to the University of Edinburgh area, part of InMotion.  Initially, it seemed to be aimed at younger children, (no place for a couple of cool teens to hang out).  But, we dandered around and found the Higgs or No Higgs section. 

    InMotion | Tue 3 Apr - Sun 15 Apr | National Museum of Scotland

    Now I was in my element, (or should that be atom?!)  I had found what I wanted; brain box scientists, (Particle Physicists no less), who could talk to us about large hadron colliders, quarks and the building of the universe!  With our boffin guides, we visited CERN and smashed particles together; what more could three girls want from a day out?

    National Museum of Scotland's hall of animals got a particular thumbs up from our budding palaeontologist

    Packed lunches eaten, we had planned to go on to walk to the Botanic's and take in their free activities. But the weather being as it was, we decided to save that for another day and stay in the museum; which holds more than enough to entertain anyone, (the hall of animals got a particular thumbs up from our budding palaeontologist).  With a quick stop off to see the Sci-Fi books at the National Library and a hot chocolate on the way home, the three of us had a grand day out for the meagre cost of a cuppa and some bus fares!

    About Carrie Harrison
    Carrie Harrison is author of the blog: Goodbye Magpie
    Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieHarri

  • Claire Connachan's Blog Entry #1: Claire encounters the beauty of science

    Invisible Worlds Exhibition | Wed 4 Apr - Sun 15 Apr | St Andrew Square

    Ever wondered what you would see if you looked a fly straight in the eye? Or considered how a woman can squeeze her foot into a stiletto heel, when the two shapes just don't quite match? Or pontificated over the sheer scale of the universe because it's so mind-bogglingly, ginormously big?

    I must admit, I'd never thought about what an eyeball fight with a fly would be like, but after spending half an hour wandering around the Invisible Worlds photo exhibition in St Andrews Square, I now know...

    Argh! That's one set of hairy eyeballs!

    A collection of amazing images have been brought together as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival to show the creativity of nature, from the enormously big to the spectacularly small. It's well worth a visit.

    Who knew that pollen could be fluorescent?

    Miniature cities inside computers – I wonder if they have post offices?

    There are dozens of fantastic images to soak up; everything from medicine to astronomy to biology to geography, but even ignoring the subject matter the visuals are so interesting you'll find yourself wandering around spellbound. I took some snaps to give folk a flavour of what there is to see.

    I'm not sure bones are meant to be so bendy...

    Enjoy the exhibition, there's loads to see

    The exhibition is on until 15 April, is free and a great way to spend half an hour if you're looking for a bit of inspiration. And if you're a woman, you might even reconsider wearing stilettos – really, bones shouldn't be doing that kind of thing!

    About Claire Connachan
    She is author of the blog: Crabbit Copy (click on this link to read a longer version of this blog post)
    Follow her on Twitter: @CrabbitCopy


  • Colin Shelbourn's Blog Entry: Doctor Dance

    Dr Dance is Dr Peter Lovatt

    It’s the Edinburgh Science Festival; expect the unexpected. Attend a lecture called Emotion and Motion, you end up taking part of a 100-person dance routine.

    Dr Peter Lovatt is an academic from the gloriously-titled Dance Psychology Lab at the University of Hertfordshire (I seriously hope it’s part of the Faculty of Funk). Together with choreographer Ruth Mills and members of the Dance House Company, he gave an invigorating presentation on what we see when we watch someone dancing. What’s the minimum information we need to interpret the dancer’s intentions?



    Using six points of light attached to her shoulders, wrists and ankles - similar to motion capture used in animated films - a dancer performed a series of moves. It was surprisingly easy to ‘read’ her emotions. It was striking how similar this technique is to the cartoonist’s use of stick figures - complex information reduced ot its simplest form, relying on context and common language for interpretation.

    It was a terrific lecture, greatly enlivened by dance routines from Ruth Mills and her company.  But it didn’t stop there. Oh no - Dr Dance has a mission. He got the entire audience on its feet, learning a set of simple routines to make Travoltas of us all.

    Love Dance

    About Colin Shelbourn
    He is author of the blog: Radio Cartoonist (click on this link to read a longer version of this blog post)
    Follow him on Twitter: @ColinShelbourn

  • Juliet Wilson's Blog Entry: Saturday Enlightenment

    A few years ago I spent two weeks digging up a fake dinosaur several times a day. This year I'm experiencing Edinburgh International Science Festival from a different and less dusty angle!

    On Saturday I attended the brilliant and inspiring Edinburgh Enlightenment Exchange (or E2 as it's affectionately known). This full day event offered a veritable smorgasbord of presentations about creativity and inspiration, showcasing wonderful examples of collaborations between science and the arts. So what did I learn?

    The E2 panel being grilled by Quentin Cooper

    Peter Lovat leads the E2 audience in dancing

    Polly Arnold & Quentin Cooper in discussion at E2

    Catch Street Science Demonstrations at the Science Festival

    The electrons in an uranium atom are like the pips in a pomegranate,
    most of the universe is like a honeycomb,
    if plants are the lungs of the planet then we're living with just one lung,
    ship's ropes are perfect materials for presenting graphs,
    when I go out dancing I'm improving my memory and problem solving skills,
    grazed knees are a badge of pride that show I'm being creative,
    if you want to learn about quantum mechanics go to the circus (the Quantum Circus that is!)

    That's just a wee selection of the wonderful insights I picked up!

    Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to the rest of the festival!

    InMotion exhibition

    At the National Museum of Scotland

    About Juliet Wilson
    She is author of the blog: Crafty Green Poet (Click this link for a longer version of this blog post and Science on a Plate Exhibition at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh)
    Follow her on Twitter: @CraftyGreenPoet

  • Kate Adamson's Blog Entry: Age of Enlightenment

    My festival kicked off with a whole day at the Edinburgh Enlightenment Exchange – an extraordinary experience!  Thirteen exceptional speakers gave twelve engaging and erudite talks about a wide range of science and the arts. 

    I was particularly encouraged by Chris Lintott's citizen science, which seemed to bring back the days when a gentleman (or lady) amateur could make an important scientific contribution. The Found collective captivated me with its offbeat thoughts on online interaction. 

    Suzy Glass and Angus Farquhar both had ideas about art in public places that I found very resonant, and 'the polymorphous polymeric Polly Arnold' reassured me that I don't have the only household in which the periodic table is memorised for fun.

    Bionic Hand

    Cast your vote at InMotion

    Invisible Worlds

    There were also marvellous side conversations: I discussed knitting and writing with some lovely Quantum Circus people over lunch, and where else do you get to chat about formal poetry with Dr Dance? It was exactly what a science event should be – not a one-way lecture but a real sharing of individual passions. I felt enlightened!

    My weekend was rounded off with a friendly encounter with Sarah the robot companion at Ruth Aylett's talk, and a wander around Invisible Worlds in the sun.  Perfect!

    Kate and Sarah

    Sarah all warm and wrapped up

    About Kate Adamson
    She is author of the blog: Blur of Wood Smoke
    Follow her on Twitter: @KateLAdamson

  • Claire Connachan's Blog Entry #2: Claire experiences Emotion and Motion while doing deft octopus impressions

    Here's the thing. I don't really get dancing. Of all the art forms out there, dance is the one that I identify with the least. I'm not sure if it's the cringe-tastic memories of my childhood ballet lessons that brings me out in a cold sweat (tutus, ARGH!), or the fact that I look like a drunken, writhing octopus when I get put on a dance floor and made to boogie.

    It's fair to say that me and dancing don't get along, so I wasn't too sure how I'd fare with the Science Festival's Emotion and Motion event at the National Museum of Scotland last night (Mon 2 Apr).

    A 90 minute  session dedicated to the art of dance and the science of psychology,

    Dancing Audiences at Emotion & Motion

    Dance troop in full swing

    Dance Performance

    the event explored how the two disciplines mix through a combination of live performance by Ruth Mills and live scientific explanation from Dr Peter Lovatt.

    Despite my initial reticence, I must hold my hands up (in a rhythmic and graceful way) – it was very interesting.

    I didn't have the opportunity to slink away from a practical demonstration at the end of the event; Dr Dance had the audience (me included) doing arse wiggles, Mexican waves and Saturday Night Fever moves. The drunken, writhing octopus within me is now officially scientific.

    Wouldn't my childhood ballet teacher be proud? :)

    Dance Demonstration

    Doctor and the dancers

    Ruth Mills performs

  • Missed a Science Festival event mentioned in this blog?

Have no fear! There are loads more coming up. Simply click here to book and search for Edinburgh International Science Festival events and shows.

During the course of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, we will feature blog entries from the Bloggers Challenge here.

So hop over every Tuesday (3rd, 10th, 17th April) and share the experiences of the Edinburgh International Science Festival together with these ace bloggers. Don't forget your cup of tea too!