Thursday, 27 January 2011

My favourite place: The intersection of art and science

Inspired by Prof John Hyatt’s talk about cymatics at MKC’s Innovation Boardroom event the other week, I thought I’d take a little exploration into the world of art inspired by science.

My current favourite has to be Rachel Sussman, who creates beautiful photography with a strong and inspiring message. Here she is at TED last year, talking about her current project, The oldest living things in the world. This voyage of artistic and scientific discovery has taken her to the far corners of the planet to capture images of the oldest organisms alive. She's covered quite some ground, including some of the most extreme environments on the planet, such as Siberia’s premafrost and Namibia's super-arid Namib Naukluft desert.

Double-click to view in full screen... otherwise you'll miss half of the presentation!

You can also hear her talking about her project on last week’s BBC Human Planet podcast… she’s on at around 21:00.

Emily Wiles - Manchester Science Festival Officer

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Science on the stage, in film and on paper

The National Science Museum takes to the stage to communicate science through the medium of theatrical performance with Science Museum Live on Tour, starting on the 29th January at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. Suitable for ages 7 and upwards, you can expect experiments, explosions and excitement. Did you catch Dr Bunhead at MSF in 2009? This show is created by the same team, who also produced Brainiac. They’re touring the country - other dates in the North West include Preston, Buxton and Bradford - check out the Science Museum's website for full dates.

Love sci fi? Never Let Me Go, which will be screened soon at the Cornerhouse, is based on the powerful and moving novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, with plenty to make you ponder about what it means to be human. Keep your eyes peeled for the release of the screening dates!

There’s also been a bit of a shout-out for Sci-fi lovers to join the MadLab Sci-fi book club who meet every Tuesday at Madlab. Interested? Follow the chatter on twitter with the hashtag #mcrsf.

Emily Wiles, Manchester Science Festival Officer

Thursday, 13 January 2011

MSF Innovative boardroom event with Manchester: Knowledge Capital

We’re feeling rejuvenated after Monday’s Innovative Boardroom session, which was run by the lovely Kate Pickering and her team from Manchester: Knowledge Capital (MKC). Grabbing the chance to escape from the confines of the meeting room, partners, organisers and new faces came together to collaboratively create some brilliant new ideas for MSF 2011 in a structured session.
We don’t want to give too much away, but one of our favourite events developed was a Haunted House filled with interactive workshops about the science of fear, gore and all things scary. We’re all planning to use inspiration from these ideas for programming for the festival, with organisers being able to take an event and develop it themselves.
MKC brought along illustrator Paul Chappell, who created brilliant visual interpretations of our ideas on the go. Here’s one that Kate snapped during the event.

The idea generation kicked off with a talk by Professor John Hyatt, a local artist, musician and academic at MMU whose artwork takes inspiration from science. He’s also the artist who designed the ‘windmills’ in Manchester’s Exchange Square.

John talked to us about his current passion, Cymatics (visualising sound waves by studying the movements of vibrating media such as sand), and created a beautiful simile, comparing the movements of the vibrating sand in his work (see video below for an example) to the progress and common purpose of everyone involved in the Festival. He also gave examples of generating event ideas from scientific themes (my personal favourite was ‘Shake, Baby, Shake – science, music and aesthetics’, inspired by Cymatic research).

If you missed this session but would still like to organise an event, don’t fret - it’s not too late! Just contact Natalie Ireland.

Emily Wiles, Manchester Science Festival Officer

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Stargazing @ MOSI this weekend

MOSI have concocted a brilliant programme of events around the BBC Two Stargazing Live programme this Saturday (15 January), including a workshop where you can make your own constellation projector, a talk by the Gresham Professor of Astronomy, Ian Morison in the Planetarium and an outdoor stargazing event (let’s pray for clear skies!). Check out the MOSI website for full event details.

And if you're looking for something crafty to do on Sunday, keep yourselves busy with making a constellation night lamp with this lovely guide at

Emily Wiles, Manchester Science Festival Officer

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Bring on 2011!

Happy New Year! We’re back, raring to go and have bravely committed ourselves to writing one blog a week for our New Year’s resolution. We’ll be here to ramble and write on everything from neutrons to neurons, with a particular emphasis on activity in Manchester.

Let’s start by shaking off the Christmas cobwebs and having a peek at what’s going on science-wise in the neighborhood this month!

For an epic Saturday trip, hop on the train to Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, where the World Premier of Polar will be hosted this weekend. This show combines stunning footage of Earths’ Arctic and Antarctic regions and a live orchestral soundtrack arranged and conducted by John Harle.

BBC 2 are currently running a new series, Stargazing LIVE, presented by Brian Cox and Dara O Briain, to inspire a generation to look to the skies and learn to stargaze. This started on Monday and a programme of live events around the country have been arranged to compliment these broadcasts. To experience this first hand, head down to MMU’s John Dalton building on 13th January for a talk from Dr Paul Ruffle about the birth, life and death of starts, hosted by Manchester Astronomical Society. Image by John Gray (Eoepaidh on Flickr), taken in the Outer Hebridies.
MOSI will also be running an event later in January - more details next week!

Let us know what you think of any of these events and we look forward to seeing you at events in 2011.

Emily Wiles, Manchester Science Festival Officer