John Cooper, Prof David Berezan, Dr KAtie Drice & Professor Magnus Rattray

A Pint of Science?

In May I presented a three day event in Manchester for The Pint of Science Festival & researchers from The University of Manchester. It was a feast of brain food for the naturally curious, and they were looking for someone to do hosting duties. I got the gig.

The Festival has been running for 8 years and brings researchers into local pubs all over the UK to get people interested in science, in this case machine thinking, extreme engineering and big data. Now I’m no scientist and a comedian as opposed to presenter  -the nearest I get to science is Doctor Who or reading Douglas Adams novel. However my geek credentials and curiosity served me well, even if the audience preferred hard research over warm up jokes, I was just the messenger.

Social media was big and #pintofscience trended on Twitter during the live events (there were 21 in Manchester alone!) When organiser Becky took a photo of myself and the other professors, we all put our drinks down out of shot – until she reminded us that it was the pint of Science Festival and drinks in hand were preferred!

Highlights for me were Professor Steve Furber’s Spinnaker Project. He had worked on the BBC Micro and Archimedes computers which filled my with nostalgia. Dr Mostafa Nabawy and his bio-inspired micro robots. Making tiny spiders that jump and flies that fly sounded like a Sci-fi disaster movie waiting to happen. Dr Katie Druce’s talk on ‘what people mean when they say they don’t sleep’ and how it can be monitored was as clever as it was easy to understand, using fitbits to monitor activity at night in the bedroom (SLEEPING!). Also I particularly enjoyed ProfessorDavid Berezan’s Sounds of the sea, which uses real time data from sea buoys to create a dynamic soundscape. The combination of data, process and improvisation to create a hypnotic nautical composition pressed all of my buttons, and it was no surprise when we chatted that we are both fans of Delia Derbyshire and the BBC radiophonic workshop.

Big thanks to Becky Dodd and all the organisers at the University of Manchester for letting me share the stage, and for keeping me watered with some very good cider courtesy of the Beer Nouveau venue.

Micro Drones are here to take over the world!
Micro Drones are here to take over the world!

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