Who says that scientists don’t belong in pubs? After all, the Eagle pub in Cambridge was where Watson and Crick chose to announce that they had finally cracked the structure of DNA. And if an experiment fails, even academics need a place to drown their sorrows. But there is a common misconception that scientists are distant, almost other-worldly beings who the normal public can’t approach. In 2013, two research scientists, Dr Michael Motskin and Dr Praveen Paul, decided to challenge this by launching Pint of Science – a three-day festival that brings scientists into the pub to explain their work and why it matters. Since the first event in London, the idea has snowballed with more cities taking it up across the world each year. And now for the very first time, Sheffield will be hosting Pint of Science between 23-25 May.
At public houses across the city, University of Sheffield scientists will be describing how their research impacts society and is helping us to face global challenges. For the Sheffield festival, the talks are divided into four themes covering everything from our bodies, technology and medicine. Some of the talks will focus on the pressing issues that face mankind, such as how we are going to feed the growing global population with increasingly pressured resources. In his talk ‘Feeding the world with big seeds’ held at the Doctor’s Orders, PhD student James Thackery will explain the key role plant genetics can play in the solution. “Getting involved in the Pint of Science Festival appealed to me because it seemed like a great environment to promote the ideas and issues I think are important” he says. “My talk will be honest, fun and discuss ways that we can begin to feed the world properly, both now and in the future.”
Other events will explore those great, fundamental mysteries that we all wonder about at times, including are we alone in the Universe? At “Is anybody out there?’ at Bloo 88, you can find out why Professor Goodwin thinks not. “We are only 10-15 years away from being able to detect life on planets around other stars –science fiction might soon become science fact.” he says. “My talk will give you a chance to ask those weird and unusual questions you might have about aliens”.
Meanwhile, some might argue that the greatest mystery is to understand ourselves. Hence, some of the talks will delve into the unknown riddles of our mind and behaviour, including ‘Can Procrastination be bad for your health?’ held at Harrisons 1854 Bar. “If you have ever procrastinated, have a problem with procrastination, or know someone that does, you need to NOT procrastinate and come to this talk!” says speaker Dr Fuschia Sirois. “Procrastination tends to be seen as a relatively common and harmless human behaviour but I will be revealing how and why procrastination can actually be bad for your health in the short and long term, with plenty of scientific theory and evidence to support this”.
Although Pint of Science will only showcase a snapshot of the University of Sheffield’s research portfolio, it makes you realise what a wealth of cutting edge work is being done right here in this city. It makes me proud to belong to such a thriving hub that is investigating solutions to both fundamental mysteries and global concerns. And rather than keep it all behind closed doors, there is a real drive at Sheffield to bring science into wider society. As a student, I am fortunate to have the chance to contribute to this. So on May 25, you’ll find me at The Doctor’s Orders, helping out at the Food of the Future talks. Why not come along? With such a stellar programme, you’re sure to find something that will pique your interest. Topical debate, lively conversation, extraordinary science….and at the very least, you can be sure of a decent drink. You just can’t lose!
The Sheffield Pint of Science Festival is brought to you by the Public Engagement and Impact Team, led by Lynette Hodges and Devon Smith. A team of 12 theme managers and an army of over 50 volunteers will be helping to host the events, so why not show your support and come along?! You can browse the full programme here and on the Facebook Event Pages.