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Cambridge Science Festival 2018: Our pick of some of the highlights

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There are hundreds of events on offer at Cambridge Science Festival
There are hundreds of events on offer at Cambridge Science Festival

Some of the must-see events at this year’s festival

A previous Cambridge Science Festival event
A previous Cambridge Science Festival event

Cambridge Science Festival features hundreds of free events across the city from March 12-25.

From exploring the latest science behind dementia research to hands-on activities for the children, there is something to fascinate everyone.

Some events require pre-booking - simply visit sciencefestival.cam.ac.uk or call 01223 766766.

Here are some of our picks:


God and Epilepsy

Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, 6pm: Professor Alasdair Coles (Department of Clinical Neurosciences) and Dr Joseph Tennant (Faraday Institute) provide examples of people who experience mystical epileptic seizures, and what they can teach neuroscience, psychology and theology. Free. Booking required.


When the Object of Your Actions Escapes You

Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, 7.30pm: Dr David Belin discusses the psychological and neural basis of impulsive/compulsive disorders. He offers a framework to understand how a behaviour, in some vulnerable individuals, becomes a compulsive habit. Free. Booking required.

Molecules to Memory: Advances in Dementia Research

Institute of Public Health, 6pm: Hosted by Alzheimer’s Research UK Local Network, this annual public event showcases current dementia research at Cambridge. Free. Booking required.


The Big Stem Cell Knit with Neural Knitworks

Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, 10am: Attend a stem cell knit-a-thon with Neural Knitworks and learn about these extraordinary cells. This hands-on day for all ages includes tours, talks and informal conversations with researchers as you knit, crochet and bind neurons and stem cells using scientifically informed patterns. Free. No need to book.

Dyslexia, Rhythm and the Brain

Department of Psychology Lecture Theatre, 10am: Professor Usha Goswami presents an overview of how brain rhythms determine speech rhythms and why this may be different in people with dyslexia. Free. Limited tickets on the door.

Sensory Perception in Autism: From the Clinic to the Laboratory

Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, 12.45pm: Many people with autism experience increased or decreased sensitivity to sights, sounds, touch, smell and taste. This can contribute to specialised interests in some while creating distraction or distress in others. This lecture will provide an overview of how altered sensation affects the lives of people with autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders. Free. No need to book.

Smart Building, Smart Construction

Department of Engineering, 1pm: Researchers from the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction and the Laing O’Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology explain how fibre optics, augmented reality, virtual reality and other technologies allow engineers and structures to communicate for better, more efficient design, construction and management. Free. No need to book.

Distinguishing Self from Others: How Do We Do It?

Department of Psychology, Craik Marshall Building, 2pm: Dr Idalmis Santiesteban shows how current research contributes to an understanding of the processes that help us to not only connect but also differentiate from others in Distinguishing self from others: how do we do it? Free. Booking required.

How to be a Badass Scientist

Babbage Lecture Theatre, 4pm: Steve Mould (author of How To Be A Scientist) made the biggest scientific discovery of all time at the age of 35 (The Mould Effect) despite being a disaster in the laboratory at school. In this show, you’ll learn from his mistakes and find out how to be a badass scientist. Free. Booking required.


The Future of Organ Transplantation: A Young Researcher’s Perspective

Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, 6pm: Professor Mike Nicholson, pioneering professor of surgery at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, introduces some of the young scientists in his team to talk about their research and the developments in organ transplantation that they hope to see in the future during the event. Free. Booking required.

How Do Brains Learn About the World Around Us?

Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, 6pm: How does the brain piece together information from the senses to interact with a rapidly changing world? How does the brain learn and how does experience re-organise its functions? Does the brain need a personal trainer? Can you get an old brain to learn new tricks? Can we re-wire our brain through training? Dr Zoe Kourtzi answers these questions and more. Free. Booking required.

Movement Matters: Regenerative Strategies in Orthopaedic Surgery

Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, 7.30pm: Professor Andrew McCaskie, department of surgery, considers key advances in orthopaedic surgery that aim to repair or regenerate bone and joint tissues, and the progression from familiar materials used today to advanced materials, molecules and cells that encourage repair in the body. Free. Booking required.


Food for Thought: Awakening Neural Stem Cells in the Brain

St John’s College Old Divinity School, 6.30pm: Stem cells in the brain can generate new neurons throughout an animal’s life in response to stimuli such as exercise, nutrition and injury. Professor Andrea Brand, Gurdon Institute, aims to understand the signals that instruct stem cells to produce new neurons at will. The ability to reactivate neural stem cells from a dormant state raises the prospect of future therapies for brain repair after damage or neurodegenerative disease, such as dementia. Professor Brand discusses new research in the field.

Limited tickets available on the door. Free. Booking required.


Better Than Bionic: Building Better Medical Implants

Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, Goldsmiths’ Lecture Theatre 1, 12.30pm: Speakers from the Cambridge Centre for Medical Materials discuss their cutting-edge work, including the materials currently used in implants for regenerative medicine, and the latest technology used to produce more natural and functional prostheses and implants. Free. Booking required.

The Atomic Gramophone

Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, Goldsmiths’ Lecture Theatre 1, 1.45pm: Modern technology relies on electronic devices so small that they are beyond the resolution of any light microscope. Researchers from the Department of Materials Sciences and Metallurgy discuss the development of tools, such as the atomic force microscope, that allow us to access these extremely small scales. Free. No booking required.

Let’s Talk About the Sense of Symptoms!

Alliance Française Cambridge, Hills Road, 2pm: Combining psychoanalytic theory with clinical cases, Iro Zoubopoulou introduces principal psychoanalytical notions from both a Freudian and a Lacanian perspective. Free. No need to book.

Vacuum Bazookas and Custard Fireballs

Cavendish Laboratory, 2.30pm: A brief trip around the science of gasses, what happens if you squash them, stretch them, heat them and cool them. Involving liquid nitrogen and repeating vacuum bazookas. Looking at the forces gases can apply, how a hot air balloon works, why flames rise, how hurricanes work, and how to make a fireball from custard powder. Free. Booking required.


Man-made or Natural? Which is Better?

Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology, 1pm: The world is now awash with superior materials, intelligent machines and bionic parts, but how much better are they than the real thing, or do we still have a long way to go? Dr Ewen Kellar presents a series of live experiments and noisy demonstrations. Free. Booking required.

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