What do dark matter, synthetic organs, landslides, artificial intelligence, mindfulness and football shirts have in common? They all feature in this years’ Pint of Science Festival in Sheffield, taking place 15-17 May! In this unique 3-day science festival, University of Sheffield researchers and the public will come together in pubs to discuss the latest cutting-edge research being done in our city. Pint of Science originally started off as an idea by a small group of UK researchers who wanted to bring back the personal touch to science and give everyone the chance to meet the real people behind the research. Since the first event in 2012, Pint of Science has grown into an international festival, and this year over 100 cities in 12 different countries will be staging events simultaneously.
Pint of Science first came to Sheffield last year and was such a success that the 2017 programme is twice as big with six different themes, each held in a distinct venue:
Atoms to Galaxies – the physics and chemistry of how everything works, from the molecules in food to the cosmos (held at The Holt Cafe, Arundel Street).
Tech Me Out – see what the future holds in technology, engineering, and computing (held at Couch, Campo Lane).
Our Body – understand how our amazing bodies work, and the latest medical breakthroughs to keep them healthy! (held at Sentinel Brewhouse, Shoreham Street)
Beautiful Mind –the neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology that sheds light on how our brains really work (held at Harrisons 1854, Regent Terrace).
Planet Earth –the natural world in all its glory, including animals, plants and the earth sciences (held at The Sheffield Tap, Sheffield Station)
Our Society – how laws, policies and historical events have shaped and continue to influence our culture and societies (held at The Old Queen’s Head, Pond Street).
With over 50 different talks, there really is something for everyone! And don’t worry if you don’t drink: the main point of hosting these events in pubs is to create an inclusive atmosphere with dynamic discussions between the audience and speakers. This was certainly the case at our launch event, held at The Sheffield Tap on 3rd April, where we heard short pitches from 4 of the Festival’s speakers. These really illustrated the sheer breadth of subjects that Pint of Science covers, including highly topical issues. First, Dr Leila Abbas showed how her research on stem cells could one day make hearing loss a thing of the past. Following that, Dr Lisa Stampnitzky asked the question “How do we define what a terrorist is?” and showed how we are influenced by political motives and cultural norms. Meanwhile, Dr Andrew Parnell took us into the microscopical world of the tiny, physical structures that fill the natural world with iridescent colours, from beetles to bird wings. Finally, Dr Cormac Behan presented his statistics which show that imprisoning criminals may not be an effective punishment – and possibly does more harm than good!
In the interval, the audience had a chance to try out the interactive activities we had arranged. This is what really sets Pint of Science apart from other science-based public talks: each event always features activities, demonstrations and competitions that help to bring the topic alive for the audience in a creative way. At our launch, for instance, there was a working kidney model; a virtual-reality experience; mindreading; playing with an interactive robots and a (highly competitive!) craft-a-neurone contest. There will be lots more during the main festival, including exploring smells in outer space; extracting DNA from strawberries and building lollypop stick houses!
So if that’s whetted your appetite, check out the programme here. Your only difficulty might be choosing which events to go to…but tickets are selling fast, so don’t delay! Why not round up some friends and make it a group social? If you want a great night out filled with fascinating science, plenty of ‘Wow!’ moments, and proper pints Sheffield-style then you can’t be disappointed!