What makes spiders fly? Has lefty the snail found love? How can we trick bacteria into making jet fuel? How do we make antibiotics from scorpion venom? Scientists will provide some of the answers to these questions when ‘Pint of Science’ returns to pubs and bars around Nottingham next week.
From Monday 15 to Wednesday 17 May Nottingham’s watering holes will join pubs and bars in more than 100 cities across 9 different countries – including France, Australia, Brazil and Canada when they take part in this three day global festival of science.
The event culminates in a ‘Grand Finale’ at the Nottingham Contemporary gallery on Thursday 18 May at 7pm to 10pm when there will be a showcase of all the ‘masterpieces’ that the artist/scientist pairs have created – a project to create science through art which is new for 2017.
Some events for this year’s Pint of Science are already sold out but there’s still time to snap up some tickets if you want to be part of one of the world’s largest festivals of public science.
Artists and scientists masterpieces showcase
‘Creative Reactions’ is a project that pairs up local artists with scientists to create a piece of artwork. There are still tickets left for the ‘Grand Exhibition’ finale where their master pieces will be showcased. The event will be held at the Nottingham Contemporary gallery on Thursday 18 May at 7pm to 10pm. All the collaborative pieces will be on display including interpretive dance, ceramics, photographic pieces and paintings. The artists, Pint of Science team, academics and members of the public will also be attending our grand finale night.
Steve Howdle, Professor of Chemistry in the School of Chemistry, is working with experimental photographer Sara Gaynor. He said: “It’s been great fun interacting with Sara, talking about our science and answering her queries as she developed ideas for her photographs. I can’t wait to see the results next week at the Nottingham Contemporary.”
Mark Fromhold, Professor of Physics in the School of Physics and Astonomy, is paired with photographer Lamar Francois. He said: “There have been multiple benefits, but perhaps the biggest has been that art gets messages across concisely, quickly, and in a format that is both attractive and widely accessible. It is therefore an ideal way to capture the core of a scientific research programme and convey it to a wide range of people with different backgrounds and interests.”
Bridging the gap between science and everyday life
Matthew Young, a PhD student in the School of Life Sciences, said: “We're seeing a big gap between the reality of what scientists do and the importance of science to everyday life, and how the public perceives this all to be. This leads to the spread of misinformation and distrust in the wider world, so by bringing scientists out of the lab and into a more casual setting, we hope to bridge that gap and show that there's something in science for everyone.”
Founded only four years ago by two UK researchers, the festival today brings a unique line up of talks, demonstrations and live experiments to each city’s favourite pubs and bars. The first Pint of Science festival in May 2013 featured simultaneous events across London, Oxford, and Cambridge – 45 events were staged in 15 pubs over three days. Four years on the event has become one of the largest celebrations of scientific discovery and research across the globe. Matthew Young said: “After an incredibly positive response from the public to the festival's Nottingham debut last year, it was clear to us that there's a big appetite out there for people to engage with more hot-topic science coming out of their own city.
So what else is happening Nottingham?
Around 45 scientists will be taking part in the event.
Atoms to Galaxies: Dr Meghan Gray, from the School of Physics and Astronomy will demonstrate how we use telescopes to trace the visible and invisible large-scale structures of the universe.
Planet Earth: Dr Ramiro Alberio, an expert in developmental epigenetics in the School of Biosciences, will be talking about recent developments in the use of pigs for the generation of human organs.
Beautiful Mind: Dr Lisa Chakrabarti, a lecturer in biochemistry in the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, will be comparing the energy producing parts of the brain - ‘the mitochondria’ - from healthy young and old brains with diseases connected with advanced age. She said: “Our ultimate aim is to keep the brain running on full batteries until the end.”
Our Body: Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology in the School of Life Sciences, will invite you on a ‘journal through viral history’ charting the emergence of deadly diseases like Ebola and ponder on what might happen to HIV if we let nature take its course. He said: “Viruses will kill you or at the very least make you very, very ill. In this lifelong fight for survival, it’s them or you… or is it? Does it really make sense for these invisible foes to lay you low? Or are there better ways to survive?”
Our Body: Visiting academic Dr Keith Miller – a senior lecturer at Sheffield Hallam has been trying to isolate new antibiotics from snake and scorpion venoms. His talk is on ‘Medicine from Poisons: Antibiotics from Scorpion Venom’. He said: “Antibiotics are rarely out of the news, with an increasing number of nasty bugs that can’t be killed with any of the drugs we throw at them! We need new antibiotics and fast.
Breaking down the barriers to understanding science
Hannah Tomlin, a PhD student in the School of Pharmacy, said: “Science is important in all aspects of our lives, yet there seems to be a growing image problem with distrust of scientists and their intentions, and of science in general. Pint of Science is a great way to break down those misconceptions and show that scientists are normal people, devoted to a job and a cause they truly care about, contributing to the good of society.”
Each of the Nottingham venues will feature focus on the different topics:
The Canalhouse: Beautiful Mind - neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry.
Bunker’s Hill: Atoms to Galaxies - physics, chemistry, maths, astronomy.
Nottingham Contemporary – The Café: Our Body - medicine, human biology, health
Rough Trade: Planet Earth - geosciences, plant sciences, zoology.
Purecraft: Our Society - tech, politics, policy, languages, sociology.
Nottingham Contemporary – The Studio: Creative Reactions - art and science collaboration.
Alongside the talks each night, there will be a huge range of interactive science demos and activities including: Planet Earth (Rough Trade): Dinosaur dig in a pub! Guests will be able to have a go at digging out a dinosaur skeleton under the guise of dinosaur experts. Our Body (Nottingham Contemporary): Real microscopes and real biological samples Our Society (Purecraft) - Find out about AI with live tracking hashtags as they journey across the world & even hack an Amazon Echo.