Monday, 11 April 2011

Edinburgh Science Festival 2011

Through the wonders of modern technology I'm typing this while sat in Edinburgh University's Informatics Forum, host to most of the Edinburgh Science Festival's book-related talks.  The next two weeks will see some highly talented science writers take to the stage to explain and entertain.

Quantum author Manjit Kumar has already explored the philosophical and physical implications of quantum theory through the eyes of Einstein, Bohr and others, shedding light on a theory that is a little unbelievable on the face of it, even to those who discovered and developed it in the early twentieth century.  I haven't read his book yet, but if he writes as well as he speaks it'll be well worth it.  (As a penance he's challenged me to read and review Roger Penrose's highly technical and speculative Cycles Of this space and see if I can make any intelligent comments beyond the choice of font and quality of binding.)

Ian Sample brings us back to the present with Massive, a popular look at the Higgs boson, from Edinburgh local Peter Higgs conception of it in the 1960s to the LHCs current efforts to find a trace of it amongst a truly mind-boggling quantity of data.  In fact, the LHC is something of a recurring theme at this years festival, with physicist Jon Butterworth and engineer Lyn Evans talking to Robin Ince about the practical challenges of an experiment that spans two countries, then Emma Sanders and Gian Giudice talking about everything from extra dimensions to (aptly) pop-up books.  Regular readers will be aware of Voyage To The Heart Of Matter, the glorious bit of paper engineering I wrote about last year, and I can heartily recommend Giudice's Zeptospace Odyssey, which isn't a prog-rock album as you may think, but a book about the LHC concentrating on the actual physics underlying the experiment.

Away from particle physics Kevin Dutton spoke about Flipnosis: persuasion, mind games and emotional influence.  He sold quite a few books for some reason...a suspiciously high number in fact...

Current SciFest Bookshop Leaderboard

Kevin Dutton

Manjit Kumar

Voyage To The Heart Of Matter
Emma Sanders & Anton Radevsky

Ian Sample

There are a huge number of events on over the next two weeks, not just talks from authors and a chance to get a book signed.  Fancy a post-mortem at Edinburgh Zoo?  A drink at the Blood Bar?  High voltage demonstrations in the pub?  There's something for everyone and all ages, so get involved if you can.


  1. I am quite amused that the Flipnosis book is the highest seller thus far!

    Although as a psych I didn't notice any obvious persuassion techniques used? Maybe a lot of people just thought they could use the book or perhaps psychology is just more interesting than any other science? ;)

  2. Sociology is just applied psychology is just applied biology is just applied chemistry is just applied physics.

    Do you think the mathematicians even know we're here? ;)