Brighton Science Festival (12-28 Feb) was once again a great success this year. I went to the Big Science Saturday, which attracted huge crowds of hopeful people who queued up for a handful of tickets that were available on the door. Many were turned away and when I suggested to Richard Robinson (whose brainchild the festival is) that he find a bigger venue next year, he seemed reluctant to leave the cosy and well-organised confines of the Sallis Benney Theatre with its friendly staff and many corners and rooms ripe for scientific discovery.
The day’s events varied between noisy science, presented with a series of deafening bangs, and a thoughtful description of what’s going on inside the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland (where big bangs are bad but millions of silent collisions of protons are good). Marcus Chown presented 10 bonkers things about the universe, which included that fact that as 99.9% of an atom is empty space the whole of the human race could fit in a sugar cube – if all the space between the atoms were squeezed out. Michael Mosley talked about the origins of the Royal Society and the start of the modern age with Newton, Hooke, Wren, and Halley. He gave a preview of his new not-to-be-missed BBC2 series on the history of science. Look out for it in the summer. Polly Toynbee and Ben Miller gave talks as well – terrific! I am buying my ticket in advance next year.