Environment

Brighton Science Festiaval 12 – 28 February

Weather diceDo people tell you science is rubbish because scientists go beefing on about global warming when the world is quite obviously freezing over? Give them this neat explanation of the difference between climate and weather, using dice. If you throw ‘weather dice’ you may get a one, a five, a six… you can’t say what the weather will be. But if you take an average score over many throws, you will get 3.5. that’s the climate. The problem for us humans is that the average is going up; the climate is getting warmer, even while the weather is swinging from hot to cold. A sign of how clever humans are: we can spot this warming trend, something other animals can’t do. However, the sign of how dumb we are is we can’t do anything about it, so it seems.

Brighton Science Festival is celebrating its sixth anniversary in 2010, with two weeks of hands-on workshops, demonstrations, presentations and discussions. As always, an eclectic mix of scientists, authors, poets and performers will be on call aiming to entertain, educate and inspire. This year’s highlights include talks from Robert Winston, Ben Miller and Polly Toynbee.

Kicking off the Festival will be the Family Fun days: Bright Sparks for 7-12 year olds and White Heat for 10-14s at Hove Park School. Here, families will be able to try their hand at a musical twister, make a supersonic car, learn about bridge building, get to grips with the technologies of recycling, design and build an incredible machine and measure their height to precision with a laser.

The adults will be having fun, too, at Big Science Saturday on 28 February at the Sallis Benney Theatre – a day of talks, demonstrations and discussion featuring everything from the perplexities of ecology, via the art of rap science and into the back end of a cow. [I went to this last year and it was fantastic – Ed]. Weekdays will also be busy with an evening of debate on alternative energy, the science of genius at Café Scientifique, two packed evenings of the popular Catalyst Club. and a special evening devoted to space telescopes by the Institute of Physics. There’s also the opportunity to delve into philosophy over a pint of ale, swap skills with Build Brighton and Brighton Carnival, not to mention a preview of a fabulous opera which explores the impact of Alzheimer’s disease (The Lion’s Face). The programme concludes with an exciting symposium – Life, the Universe and Everything – which will set out to understand and explain the complexities of emergence. All in all, a feature packed fortnight for curious minds.

For a full programme of events see www.brightonscience.com

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