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23 highlights of Cambridge Science Festival that caught our eye

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Cambridge Science Festival runs until March 26, 2017
Cambridge Science Festival runs until March 26, 2017

Cambridge Science Festival runs from Monday March 13 to Sunday March 26 and features a huge array of events – most of them free.

The theme for the festival this year is getting personal
The theme for the festival this year is getting personal

From talks and panel discussions to interactive sessions, there is something for all ages and interests. Here is a selection that caught our eye.

Some events require booking at sciencefestival.cam.ac.uk or via 01223 766766, as indicated below. Please arrive on time for scheduled events.

:: Molecules that Rocked the World

11am-5pm Mon Mar 13-Fri Mar 24; drop-in exhibition / Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, New Museums Site Pembroke Street, CB2 3RA

Molecules that Rocked the World 3D interactive exhibition highlights 25 molecules that have changed our life, culture and social trends. Both the structure and the information on the history, properties, application and the significance of the molecules are illustrated using stereoscopic 3D display and navigated using a console. The exhibition is accompanied by Molecules app. 3D glasses are available on site.

:: See your baby’s brain learn

Many events involve hands-on activities
Many events involve hands-on activities

9am-5pm, Wed Mar 15 & Fri Mar 17; contact kc496@cam.ac.uk to book a time / Department of Experimental Psychology, Downing Street, CB2 3EB

How does play help your baby to learn? Mothers and babies (8-15 months) are invited to visit the Baby-LINC lab and take part in a one-hour hands-on “EEG-and-play” session using brain imaging technology as part of a study into social learning in infants. You will get to see your baby’s brain activity as he/she takes part in learning activities. Learn more at baby-linc.psychol.cam.ac.uk/

:: Mini-me: How 3D organoids are revolutionising research

6-8pm, Wed Mar 15; adults; book at tiny.cc/organoids – limited ticket on the door / Murray Edwards College, Buckingham House Lecture Theatre, Buckingham House, Huntingdon Road, CB3 0DF

Hear from a panel of scientists at biomedical research institutes growing ‘miniature organs’. This interactive panel discussion will be followed by wine, nibbles and a chance to chat with researchers.

A second event on the topic of epigenetics will be held at 6pm on Tue Mar 21.

Hear about the latest scientific research during the many talks and panel discussions
Hear about the latest scientific research during the many talks and panel discussions

:: Tackling climate change: whose responsibility is it?

7-8.30pm, Wed March 15; age: 12+; booking required / Jesus College, Webb Library, Jesus Lane, CB5 8BL

Experts from the University of Cambridge, the British Antarctic Survey and Friends of the Earth discuss whether it is down to individuals, companies, or nations - or all three – to tackle climate change.

:: The good, the bad and the ugly: antibodies, microbes and immunity

6pm-7.30pm, Thu Mar 16; age 12+; booking required / Mill Lane Lecture Rooms , 8 Mill Lane, CB2 1RW

Learn from a panel of experts about how your immune system protects you and what happens when it hits the wrong target.

:: Getting up close and personal in Herculaneum: a story of sewers and corpses

6.30-7.30pm, Thu Mar 16, booking required; limited tickets on door / Faculty of Classics/Museum of Classical Archaeology, Room G19, Sidgwick Avenue, CB3 9DA

Join Prof Andrew Wallace-Hadrill on a journey through the Roman underbelly to find out more about the lives of the people in the exceptional site of Herculaneum.

:: Gaia: one billion pixels, one billion stars, one amazing satellite

Thu Mar 16, 6-7pm; age 15+; no need to book / Cavendish Laboratory, Department of Physics J J Thomson Avenue, CB3 0HE

How big is the Milky Way? How old is it? What does it weigh? When and how did it form? Prof Gerry Gilmore answers some of these questions using measurements from the satellite Gaia at this sixth form lecture sponsored by The IoP and Cavendish Laboratory.

:: Who owns us?

7.30-9pm, Fri Mar 17; adults; booking required / Mill Lane Lecture Rooms , 8 Mill Lane, CB2 1RW

Do we our own our bodies? Who owns the human genome? A panel of experts will explore the fascinating issues around medical use of patient tissue, cells, antibodies and data. The moral, economic, familial, legal, medical and ethical questions will be explored by a great panel of experts.

The discussion is organised by Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialisation arm of the University of Cambridge. Its role is to maximize the impact upon society of the university’s research output by licensing commercial rights to partners, creating new businesses or disseminating academic know-how through consultancy. It is marking its tenth year. The panel comprises:

Dr Kathy Liddell (chair) - Herschel Smith lecturer of intellectual property law, University of Cambridge, and founding director of the Cambridge Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences, and deputy director of the Cambridge Centre for IP and Information Law

George Freeman, MP - former Under-Secretary of State for Life Sciences; currently chair of the PM’s Policy Board

Dr Ruth March - VP of AstraZeneca’s personalised healthcare and biomarkers (PHB) function

Dr Iain Thomas - head of the Cambridge Enterprise life sciences team

Dr Gareth Williams, Marks & Clerk - patent lawyer specialising in biotechnology-related work, with particular expertise in genomics and peptides.

:: Oh no! My phone has been hacked!

2-5pm, Sat Mar 18; all ages; no need to book / Jesus Lane Friends Meeting House, 12 Jesus Lane, CB5 8BA

Learn how easy could be for an attacker to access your device, your personal data and even watch you with your own camera. Every situation is simulated live in a lab environment.

:: Hayfever: not to be sneezed at!

10am-4pm, Sat Mar 18; 12-4pm, Sun Mar 19; all ages; drop-in: no need to book / The Guildhall, Market Square, CB2 3QJ

Did you know that you can select low allergen plants for your garden, to make life better for hay-fever sufferers? Talk to researchers from the Royal College of Pathologists and Public Health England about the science behind your sneezes. There will be a display of low allergen plants and activities including decorating plant pots and sowing seeds.

:: How do we experience time?

10am-4pm, Sat Mar 18; age 8+; hands-on, drop-in session / Department of Psychology, Downing Street Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, CB2 3EB

Time is also a psychological dimension. We can perceive, estimate, reproduce time chunks. Is there an absolute clock in the brain? These concepts will be explored through a series of

:: Science and beer

6-8pm, Sat Mar 18; adults; hands-on, drop-in session / The Guildhall, Market Square, CB2 3QJ

Where do our eyes glance when choosing drinks and food products? Have a go at wearing a pair of eye tracking glasses and make a beer selection from a mock-up of a supermarket shelf.

:: Meet our sport scientists and test your fitness

10am-4pm & 6-8pm Sat Mar 18; 12- 4pm, Sun Mar 19; all ages; hands-on, drop in / The Guildhall, Market Square, CB2 3QJ

Experience the ‘sheeting test’ designed to assess the pulling power of elite sailors. Compete against the clock and undertake a trial used by high-performance sailors with your scores compared against Olympic level athletes.

Adults and teens can get a personal assessment of their cardio-respiratory fitness via a simple bike test to get an estimate of their maximal oxygen uptake.

And using spirometry you can get a measure of your resting lung functions and forced vital capacity.

:: Coding for apps, gadgets and robots

11am-12pm; 12pm-1pm; 2-3pm; 4-5pm, Sat Mar 18; age 12+, booking required, limited tickets on the door / Makespace, 16 Mill Lane, CB2 1RX

Learn to write Android apps in minutes, and remotely control robots and other electronic gadgets using Bluetooth.

:: Are you smarter than a bird?

10am-4pm, Sat Mar 18; all ages; hands-on, drop-in / Department of Experimental Psychology, Downing Street, CB2 3EB

Try cognitive tests and see how you rate against yourself, your friends and the world’s smartest birds. Watch some videos of brainy birds to see how we can compare them to people.

:: Mindreading

10am-4pm, Sat Mar 18; all ages; hands-on, drop-in / Department of Experimental Psychology, Classroom, Downing Street, CB2 3EB

How well do you think you can tell what someone else thinks, knows or sees? Try some quick and easy experiments and test yourself. Fun for children and adults alike

:: How the brain began

11am-12pm, Sun Mar 19; age 8+, booking required, limited tickets on the door / Babbage Lecture Theatre, New Museums Site Downing Street, CB2 3RS

Join zoologist and writer Matt Wilkinson on a quest to uncover the mysterious origins of the brain. You’ll never look at a sponge in the same way again!

:: Towards general artificial intelligence

7.30-9pm, Mon Mar 20; age: 12+; no need to book; free to students and CSAR members, others £3 / Churchill College, Wolfson Lecture Theatre, Storeys Way, CB3 0DS

Cambridge graduate Dr Demis Hassabis is the co-founder and CEO of DeepMind, the world’s leading General Artificial Intelligence (AI) company, acquired by Google in 2014. He will draw on his experiences as an AI researcher, neuroscientist and videogames designer to discuss what is happening at the cutting edge of AI research, including the recent historic AlphaGo match

:: Exploring the teenage brain

6-7pm, Tue Mar 21; age 15+, booking required / Mill Lane Lecture Rooms , 8 Mill Lane, CB2 1RW

Dr Kirstie Whitaker will take you on a journey “under the hood” to learn how researchers in Cambridge are studying the teenage brain. Visit kirstiewhitaker.com to learn more about her.

:: 100,000 Genomes: the road to personalised genomic medicine

7.30-8.30pm, Tue Mar 21; age 12+; booking required / Babbage Lecture Theatre, New Museums Site Downing Street, CB2 3RS

Dr David Bentley, chief scientist at illumine, and Prof Mark Caulfield, chief scientist at Genomics England discuss how decoding the entire DNA sequence of 100,000 genomes will revolutionise the way we practice medicine.

:: Doctor Who made me into a scientist

2-3pm, Sat Mar 25; booking required / Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, CB1 1PT

When Doctor Who began in 1963, it was meant to be educational – two of the companions were school teachers. Even today, the Doctor remains a scientist hero, using evidence, reasoning and investigation to puzzle out strange and sometimes scary truths other people ignore.

This directly inspired Marek, who thought being a space scientist was the next best thing to being a Time Lord. He’s worked at the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank, in Baltimore using the Hubble Space Telescope, and is now based at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.

Simon resisted all efforts by his teachers to teach him any science, but was inspired by Doctor Who to become a writer. Writing Doctor Who books and plays led him to a new love for the subject, and to doing a GCSE in astronomy.

Together, Marek and Simon wrote The Scientific Secrets of Doctor Who, and have discovered many other scientists and scientifically minded people inspired by the series. Using clips from the series they’ll show how Doctor Who – even when not trying to be educational – makes us think like real scientists. Presented by Anglia Ruskin University.

:: Engineering solutions to medical problems

2-2.45pm, Sun Mar 26; booking required, limited tickets on the door / UTC Cambridge, Robinson Way, CB2 0SZ

The worlds of medicine and engineering are much closer than you think. Aerospace 3D printing of metals for jet engine parts can also be used to rebuild the body. Superglue can save lives in brain surgery. Fibres used in Formula 1 racing cars are used replace snapped tendons. In the tradition of Ewen Kellar’s previous talks, expect live experiments and noisy demonstrations.

::I’m involved with research at the University of Cambridge, I’m only 3!

10.30am-4pm, Sun Mar 26; hands-on, drop-in / UTC Cambridge, Robinson Way, CB2 0SZ

Having a great day learning about science and research? Then why not take part in a research study yourself! Calling dads, mums and their young children to be involved in research on child development and family relationships. If you’re a stay-at-home dad, stay-at-home mum or a parent who works, please come along to our stall to hear how you can get involved in exciting research with the Centre for Family Research.

If you don’t have time to visit on the day please email researchonfamilies@gmail.com to hear more about how to get involved in research.

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