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Cambridge Science Festival prepares for its second bumper weekend

The annual two-week celebration of science culminates this weekend, following a packed programme of many sell-out events that aim to make sense of the world.  

How does science really work? What are the connections between burgers, bacteria and heart disease? Man-made or natural? Which is better? How are therapeutic drugs developed?

The coming weekend promises more enlightening science for the curious-minded with over 110 events, including talks, debates, performances, exhibitions, demonstrations, and hands-on activities investigating some of the latest research in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine.

Last weekend saw thousands of people brave the cold with over 5,000 indulging in a range of science activities at the Guildhall and a further 1,580 attending lectures at the Babbage Theatre. Figures are still coming in for other venues. Organisers estimate the coming weekend will be similar in terms of sheer numbers of visitors.   

Events are held across the city centre in various venues, including Anglia Ruskin University, University of Cambridge museums, colleges, libraries and departments, Cambridge Junction, and Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

With so many talks and debates to choose from, visitors are spoilt for choice on Saturday. Top tips include Better than Bionic: Building better medical implants. If you have ever wondered which materials are currently used in implants for regenerative medicine this talk is for you. During another talk, How science really works, Professor Jeremy Baumberg, Cavendish Laboratory, takes a provocative look at global science, asking who controls science and what you hear about it. Also on Saturday, Dr Clett Erridge, Anglia Ruskin University, presents a thought-provoking examination of some of the latest scientific discoveries making unexpected connections between bacteria, processed foods and our risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes in his talk Burgers, bacteria and heart disease: the processed food debate.

There is a huge array of hands-on activities on Saturday at the West Cambridge site, including an escape room challenge at the Cavendish Laboratory; laser tin can alley games at the Institute for Manufacturing; an open afternoon at the Institute for Astronomy (if the weather is good, you can look up at the stars from the telescopes); and the Schools Zone in the Hauser Forum – an event for pupils from local schools to show off their scientific successes.

Further hands-on events on Saturday include the rare opportunity to look inside the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) HQ during Antarctica uncovered. The BAS team are lifting the lid on Antarctica by inviting the public into their HQ, for the first time in 20 years, and their new Aurora Innovation Centre. Visitors can get a flavour of life on the ice – from high-tech research stations and ships to camping in the field in orange pyramid tents – and enjoy an opportunity to chat to the BAS people who work at the ends of the Earth.

In terms of exhibitions, the two predicted to be the most popular on Saturday are the Douglas Adams: Life in the Universe at St John’s College Old Library – this exhibition follows Douglas Adams life and career from Brentwood School to Hollywood, from a bachelor’s degree to Doctor Who, from aye-ayes to IT, and from hitchhiking in Europe to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The second exhibition is The Museum of our forgotten selves – a thought-provoking interactive installation exploring the experience of being 0 – 3 years old.

Performances over the weekend include the wonderfully entertaining Tales of discovery: stories inspired by Cambridge research. Visitors can join the much-loved storyteller, Marion Leeper, for a morning of story-telling at Cambridge University Library on Saturday morning. Marion offers a selection of lively and unique tales about Cambridge research from the treasure-trove of new and exciting discoveries.

Sunday is the grand finale of the Cambridge Science Festival and covers all things biomedical and healthcare-related at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC). The Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology is the headquarters for the day and it is here that curious visitors of all ages can learn about the various ways we can look inside the human body without touching it during Listening to Light, or find out man-made or natural? Which is better? – a lively demonstration by Dr Ewen Kellar. For those who want to be healthier, there is Want to healthier? Let us change your environment, a talk that explores everything from designing age-friendly cities to implementing policies that influence our food and alcohol choices.

As well as talks aimed at the young and old, there are also lots of things to see and do on Sunday. Take a tour of an operating theatre, drop in at the teddy bear clinic, find out about the hidden powers in your body that turn food into energy, or what makes your nerves tick. There is also the chance to get involved in a series of food and drink challenges or take part in medical research. The whole day is focussed on the life-changing research, conducted in the labs, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies on the site, and how this research is developing new treatments and medicines to benefit society.

Further hands-on events on Sunday include Wandlebury Wildlife. This is an opportunity to join local conservation organisations as they investigate the amazing senses of bats, birds, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates and even plants. There is also a sense adventure for those who want to get out and explore the woods and grasslands around Wandlebury.

Cambridge Science Festival Manager, Dr Lucinda Spokes, said: “This year’s Science Festival has been exceptional; based on our audience’s participation in events so far, it has truly captured the imagination of adults, teenagers and children alike. This is exactly why the Festival exists. The coming weekend will be another example of all the Departments and researchers coming together to make science as accessible as possible to everyone. We’re really looking forward to welcoming people to the vast array of events being hosted across the city during the final two days of the 2018 Cambridge Science Festival.”

To pre-book events, visit the Cambridge Science Festival website, or call: 01223 766 766.

Visit the Festival’s twitter site @camscience #csf2018, or Facebook page cambridgesciencefestival

Download the full programme here.

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Cambridge Science Festival brings science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine to an audience of all ages through demonstrations, talks, performances and debates. Run by the University of Cambridge, the Festival draws together independent organisations in addition to many University Departments, Centres and Museums.

This year’s Festival sponsors and partners are Cambridge University Press, AstraZeneca, MedImmune, TTP Group, Illumina, Science AAAS, Anglia Ruskin University, Microsoft Research, Cambridge Science Centre, FameLab, IET, Hills Road 6th Form College, St Mary’s School, Cambridge University Health Partners, Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology, Cambridge Junction, Walters Kundert Charitable Trust, British Science Week 2018, and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.