University researchers showcase scientific wonders at Glastonbury

Science Futures organisers and festivalgoers at Science Futures
Science Futures organisers: Dr Gail Austen (University of Kent); Professor Emma Sayer (Lancaster University); and Nigel Fisher (Wytham Woods, University of Oxford); festivalgoers at last year's Science Futures area

From climate change to robot surgeons, and from spiders to AI and deepfakes, festivalgoers attending this year’s Glastonbury can learn and take inspiration from an entire area specially dedicated to science.

Based in the festival’s Green Futures Field, Science Futures is co-ordinated by Lancaster University’s Professor Emma Sayer, and provides an area of discovery where people can explore many varied ways in which science shapes our lives.

Through a mix of innovative installations, games, music, discussions and demonstrations, Science Futures will offer a chance for people to find out about the science behind new discoveries. It will also provide unique opportunities for people to hear from, and meet, the approachable researchers tackling critical problems and those behind cutting-edge innovations.

The ‘Laboratory’ stage features a packed and varied line-up cutting across different fields of science and technology, including the ‘science behind the Arcadia spider’, Q&A sessions on climate change with Professor Richard Betts MBE of the University of Exeter and Met Office, discussions around the impacts of AI and Deepfakes, as well as music including a ‘Funk and Soil’ DJ set.

The ‘Futurarium’ marquee will host numerous stands and exhibits including an insightful demonstration of some of the highly specialist equipment used by the BBC Natural History Unit to capture their amazing footage of the natural world. Professor Gordon Blair and his team from Lancaster University and UKCEH will offer insights around the carbon footprint and sustainability of the technology and cloud computing we all use everyday called ‘How green is your cloud?’

‘The Sound Canopy’, created by Lancaster University’s Dr Liz Edwards, will take visitors on an audio journey from deep underground to outer space, while an outdoor exhibition called Science, Not Fiction will explore art's role in science and science's role in art.

"Running a science area at Glastonbury Festival is just the best thing in the world!" said Science Futures coordinator Professor Sayer.

"It’s fantastic to see how much people enjoy experiencing and discussing science when we swap the lecture theatre for somewhere like the Green Futures Field. The way we present research in Science Futures fits so well with the vibe of the festival – and people love it!”

Professor Betts will also be co-ordinating Sex & Bugs & Rock ‘n Roll, a decade-long science engagement collaboration, which started with support from the British Ecological Society and has gone from strength to strength thanks to the involvement of the Universities of Lancaster, Exeter, Oxford and Kent and the Met Office. The “Sex & Bugs” stall has been feature of the Green Futures Field at Glastonbury Festival since 2015.

Professor Betts said: “The Sex & Bugs & Rock ‘n Roll stall is always huge fun, we meet so many lovely, enthusiastic festival-goers and have some fantastic conversations about ecology and climate change. I can’t wait to be back!”

Shows on the Laboratory stage will include:

  • BBC Natural History Unit
  • Change the Earth Summit (Glasto Special) with Darren Jones MP
  • The Great Ape Challenge
  • Arcadia – The science behind the spider
  • Professor Richard Betts and guests - climate change Q&A
  • The Nature-Technology relationship with Professor Gordon Blair
  • Ask a scientist brunch
  • Beats of Science with DJ Mike Whitfield aka Funk and Soil
  • Climate songs from Rosie Eade “Folk Pixie”

Stalls at Science Futures will include:

  • Sex & Bugs & Rock ‘n Roll's enthusiastic researchers want to share their fascination for the natural world and make science accessible to everyone. They love music and think scientists should be more approachable – so where better to have a bit of fun with science than at Glastonbury?
  • The Plant Power Station brings the science of sustainable agriculture to life, entertaining and engaging festivalgoers of all ages. In a beautiful marquee, welcoming scientists will lead visitors through a series of games and activities tackling important issues like pollination, pest management, carbon footprints, organic farming, GM crops and food sourcing.
  • The Circus of Climate Horrors explores the effects of a changing atmosphere through carnival sideshow games offering increasing difficulty as the world warms. Build a boat to float on the Sea of CO2; visitors will see for themselves how much gas is produced by everyday activities like driving, barbecuing, or boiling the kettle.

The art exhibition. ‘Science, not fiction’ will be an outside showcase of art in science, and science in art featuring contributions from 11 artists.

For the full Science Futures line-up – and exciting announcements as the festival approaches – follow @sci_futures on Twitter and Instagram.

For the full Glastonbury line-up including the Laboratory stage visit Canopy

The 'Sound Canopy' at last year's festivalScience Futures

Science Futures at last year's Glastonbury

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