Published: 31 May 2017

Bringing science alive at Cheltenham Science Festival

Academics from the University of Surrey will be telling the fascinating story of science in a variety of creative ways at this year’s Cheltenham Science Festival.

An interview with one of the world’s leading space scientists, and a show revealing the science behind cocktails, are just two of the exciting sessions being presented by Surrey academics at the Cheltenham Science Festival, which takes place from 6 to 11 June 2017.

Professor of Physics Jim Al-Khalili will conduct a live interview with planetary geologist and former Chief Scientist for NASA Ellen Stofan, talking to her about her remarkable career and what’s next for space exploration. Ellen has been at the forefront of a number of exciting discoveries which have helped inform our understanding of Mars, Venus and Saturn’s moon Titan, as well as our own planet Earth.

"There's something magical about this particular festival that makes it the place to be in early June for anyone excited by science, whatever their age."

- Professor Jim Al-Khalili

Dr Suze Kundu of the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering will be hosting a range of shows at the Festival including ‘Once Upon a Lab’ – a family friendly session exploring the science behind fairytale myths – and ‘Cocktail Chemistry’, which will look into what makes a shaken vodka martini so different to a stirred one. Visitors will also be able to witness Dr Kundu defending her title in the ‘Over-Ambitious Demo Challenge’, which last year involved her dancing en pointe in a daring demonstration of flow and rheology, beating The One Show’s Marty Jopson!

Professor Mark Plumbley, a specialist in machine learning and signal processing within Surrey’s Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing, will present a fascinating session which poses the question: ‘Is Your Tech Listening To You?’ Together with cybersecurity specialist Jason R C Nurse and BBC Technology Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, he will investigate whether intelligent virtual assistants like Siri, which are designed to make our lives easier, actually leave us vulnerable to oversharing private information.

Professor Al-Khalili comments: "I have been at every single Cheltenham Science Festival since it began in 2002 and regard it as the foremost science festival in the UK. There is something magical about this particular festival that makes it the place to be in early June for anyone excited by science, whatever their age.”  

Dr Kundu says: “Taking part in the Festival is a great opportunity to showcase the wonders of science and engineering, not only to inspire young people to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, but also to engage with adults and awaken their own scientific curiosity, empowering them to ask questions on important issues. It is fantastic to see that the Surrey contingent at the Festival is growing!”

The Cheltenham Science Festival, named the “gold standard for science festivals” by Professor Lord Winston, aims to encourage people of all ages to take a fresh look at the world around them. Hosting some of the world’s greatest scientists and comedians, it tackles big questions from ‘What makes the world turn?’ to ‘Why does chocolate taste so good?’

Find out more, and book tickets for the Cheltenham Science Festival 2017. You can also follow #cheltscifest to find out all the latest news.

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