British Science Festival 2017

Leading scientists are coming to Brighton for the British Science Festival this September, with experts from the University of Sussex playing a key role.

The British Science Festival will be taking over Brighton from 5-9 September. This year’s annual Festival is being co-hosted by the University of Sussex and the University of Brighton.

Sussex academics are joining others from around the world to introduce members of the public to ground breaking scientific discoveries.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Michael Davies, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for our University and Brighton as a whole.

“I’m absolutely sure there’s something for everyone in the packed schedule.

“Find out more about things that intrigue you, and brighten up your day with learning something new.”

Make sure you have booked your free tickets for the huge range of events taking place during the Festival.

Our Festival highlights

The following Festival events will be hosted by Sussex academics around the city:

What is consciousness?

Saturday 9 September, 4pm-5pm

Sallis Benney, Grand Parade

Psychologists have long tried to understand consciousness. To this day, distinguishing how conscious you are, what you are conscious of and the specific experience of being you, is difficult. Anil Seth explores research allowing a deeper understanding of these central aspects of our humanity.

Technological and scientific advances are bringing us closer to understanding the centuries-old mystery of how ours brain generate the unique experience of being us. Read about how Sussex academics are researching consciousness.

Rewilding the Weald: Wolves in Wivelsfield?

Friday 8 September, 1pm-2pm

Westlain, University of Brighton

How wild can we go? Find out what rewilding is and whether it’s right for Sussex. Hear our experts' opinions and have your say as part of a conversation with illustrated commentary of the debate from local artists and designers.

Seeing the world through a baby’s eyes

Tuesday 5 September, 10am-7pm

Jubilee Library

Understand how Sussex scientists determine what babies see. You can watch a live demo of infant eye-tracking, learn about their vision and bring your baby along to see artwork designed to be visually appealing to them.

Building the world’s fastest computer

Tuesday 5 September, 2.30pm-3.30pm

Asa Briggs, University of Sussex

Earlier this year, a group of researchers led by Winfried Hensinger unveiled the first realistic blueprint for a large-scale quantum computer. You can find out how this breakthrough has given quantum computing the potential to solve problems a billion times quicker than today's fastest supercomputers.

Visitors to campus will also be able to step into the fascinating world of quantum physics in an immersive exhibit that replicates the sights and sounds of Professor Hensinger’s research lab.

The pop-up lab will be installed next to Falmer House Bar opposite the Attenborough Centre from 5-9 September as part of the Festival. From 11am until 3.30pm visitors will be able to explore the lab, meet the researchers and find out more about the spooky physics behind quantum computing.

The lab will also be one of the highlights of the Open Day on 9 September, where prospective students will be able to take part in a tour of the installation by Professor Hensinger and his team.

Psychology 101: for parents

Tuesday 5 September, 12pm-1pm

Checkland, University of Brighton

Sussex psychologist Alison Pike, scientific expert on Channel 4 TV series 'The Secret Lives of 4/5/6 Year Olds', provides insights for parents in directing the day-to-day drama of family life. You can learn how to put yourself first without feeling guilty, manipulate your child’s behaviour and stop sibling squabbles.

Wearable technologies

Wednesday 6 September, 3.30pm-4.30pm

Asa Briggs, University of Sussex

Wearable devices are becoming very popular but what is it that makes a gadget “wearable”? Dr Daniel Roggen digs into the unique characteristics of wearables and presents research at the pivotal crossroads of sensors, electronics and artificial intelligence.

Detecting deception

Tuesday 5 September, 1.30pm-2.30pm

Asa Briggs, University of Sussex

Look at the current practices used in airport security and police investigations with psychologists Thomas Ormerod and Coral Dando. You can take part in a series of mini-experiments and discover how new techniques are challenging prejudices and improving the detection of threat, vulnerability and deception.

Saving our bumblebees

Wednesday 6 September, 2.30pm-3.30pm

Asa Briggs, University of Sussex

Learn about the fascinating world of the bumblebee with world expert Dave Goulson and find out how you can ensure a future for these endearing and vitally important pollinators.

Improving the quality of life for people with dementia

Thursday 7 September, 12.30pm-1.30pm

Asa Briggs, University of Sussex

Dementia is one of the greatest societal challenges we face. Explore what living well with dementia looks like and how society and services can contribute.

Alternative bio-medicine in elite sport: method or magic?

Tuesday 5 September, 4.30pm-5.30pm

Asa Briggs, University of Sussex

Controversial biological therapies for injury are often used by elite sportspeople like Usain Bolt. These therapies, though legal, seldom have supporting scientific evidence. Alex Faulkner and colleagues discuss how such beliefs can persist alongside the era of medical biotechnology and highlights the complexity and ethics of medical decision-making in elite sport.

Visions of the Large Hadron Collider

Tuesday 5 September, 8pm-9pm

Fabrica Gallery

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s most powerful particle smasher, recreating conditions similar to those that existed in our universe shortly after the Big Bang. Join physicist Antonella De Santo, artist duo Semiconductor and humanities researcher Beatrice Fazi for a conversation on LHC science, art and philosophy.

What can the past tell us about energy consumption today?

Wednesday 6 September, 10am-11am

The Keep, University of Sussex

Rebecca Wright asks what lessons can be learnt from the Mass Observation Archive, a huge database that records everyday life in Britain. Explore whether knowledge of previous energy practices could provide novel solutions for managing energy consumption in the future.

AI: Past present and future

Wednesday 6 September, 4pm-5pm

Sallis Benney, Grand Parade

Can a computer be intelligent, creative, or even conscious? Cognitive scientist and author Margaret Boden will reflect on her several decades researching artificial intelligence, in conversation with science writer Jon Turney. Discover the wide-ranging applications of AI, and hear how a computational approach has shaped our understanding of what it means to be human.

North Laine Brewhouse: getting buzzed

Wednesday 6 September, 6pm-11pm

North Laine Brewhouse

Forget beer goggles, put on your bee googles and discover what it’s like to be a bee tracking your way back to the hive in this unique, interactive gaming experience. While you’re at it, get involved with a special bee themed Nanobrew and have a go at brewing an indulgent chocolate honeycomb porter while getting to grips with the science behind the techniques. True tastiness for the brain and the belly!

Crowds, riots and contagious behaviour

Wednesday 6 September, 5pm-6pm

One Church Brighton

Does panic really ripple through a crowd? Why is laughter infectious? And how can we explain the spread of violence and aggression at riots? Explore the concept of contagion with social psychologist John Drury and get involved in interactive experiments that reveal how emotions, ideas and behaviour through crowds.

Do drinking guidelines make sense?

Thursday 7 September, 3pm-4pm

Westlain, University of Brighton

Advice on our alcohol consumption can be confusing and hard to follow. Keeping track of how much we drink can help us to spot when we are overdoing it, but what exactly is a unit and how many can you consume each week? Improve your understanding of current guidelines with Richard de Visser, and get tips on how to apply these in the real world.

The new golden age of the steam engine

Friday 8 September, 2pm-3pm

Checkland, University of Brighton

Most car engines still operate on the 100-year-old principles of liquid cooling. But this method has reached the limits needed for the next generation of engines for hybrid electric vehicles. Julian Dunne examines the use of steam for engine cooling which offers improved efficiency, reduced CO2 emissions, and improved fuel economy.

Citizen Aid as the new development?

Friday 8 September, 2pm-3pm

Checkland, University of Brighton

At sites of poverty across the world, ordinary citizens take matters into their own hands to support others in need, channelling private funds towards individual causes. As ‘private aid’ around the world is growing, Anne-Meike Fechter discusses whether this spells the end of official ‘development’ as we know it.

Orchestra hero

Saturday 9 September, 3pm-5pm

One Church Brighton

Have you always wanted to conduct or play in an orchestra? Now you don’t need to be a violin virtuoso, or even read music. Take part in a genuine symphony orchestra rehearsal and performance using Syncphonia, a new networked notation system that will keep musical novices in time. There are limited spaces to join the orchestra and you will need to be available from 3-5 pm. Click here to book these tickets. Anyone is welcome to drop in to discuss the project, observe the rehearsal or even try their hand at conducting using a motion-tracking smart baton.

Is Brexit an opportunity for sustainable food production in the UK?

Friday 8 September, 4pm-5pm

Sallis Benney, Grand Parade

What does Brexit mean for agriculture in the UK, and what are its potential impacts on food security and the environment? Join leading figures from politics and academia to discuss how the Brexit process could contribute to conservation, human health and well-being in these times of political and economic uncertainty.

Are you having fun yet?

Thursday 7 September, 6pm-7pm

One Church Brighton

What is fun? How is it distinct from happiness or pleasure? How do we know when we are having it? Ben Fincham provides an entertaining account of this often taken-for-granted phenomenon.

Making storytime memorable

Saturday 9 September, 11am-12pm

Jubilee Library

Why do children like to hear the same stories again and again? Are bedtime stories special? Is curling up with an eBook as comforting as a traditional paperback? Discuss these questions and more with scientists and story creators at this lively event packed with interactive demonstrations and practical tips.

Rebuild Brighton: an infrastructure game

Saturday 9 September, 1pm-3pm

City Centre-location to be announced

In a post-apocalyptic Brighton, following environmental disaster, critical infrastructure is destroyed. Using maps and clues left by the city planners a handful of survivors set out to find what is still standing and what can be rebuilt. Survivors desperately need energy, water and communications. But resources are scarce. Can all the survivors come to an agreement on what infrastructure is needed the most?

A fragrant future

Friday 8 September, 11.30am-12.30pm

Attenborough Centre, University of Sussex

Our sense of smell is deeply connected with structures in our brain relating to our instincts, emotions and memories. Emanuela Maggioni details how new devices and systems are allowing us to interact with technology and each each other using scent. Discover the potential applications of this emerging technology from smell-o-vision to immersive multisensory experiences.

Tardigrades: the toughest animals alive?

Saturday 9 September, 1.30pm-3.30pm

Main floor, Jubilee Library, Brighton

Get to know the animal that can be boiled, frozen, poisoned or exposed to radiation and still survive. Hunt for tardigrades and observe the fascinating biology of these charismatic creatures in this hands-on microscope workshop. Drop-in sessions at 1.30pm, 2.10pm and 2.50pm.

Drawing on science – workshop

Wednesday 6 September, 5.30pm-6.30pm

ONCA Gallery, Brighton

Create your own cosmos-inspired comic in this space-themed workshop with astrophysicist Kathy Romer and artists Sally Kindberg and Daniel.

The Lanes after dark

Tuesday 5 September, 6pm-11pm

The Lanes, Brighton

A takeover of the pubs of The Lanes brings you an evening of exploration and entertainment to show how when the sun sets science comes alive.

How scary do you find fairground rides?

Friday 8 September, 5pm-11pm

Palace Pier, Brighton

How does being scared affect memory? Find out how riding fear inducing fairground attractions affects your ability to detect attention to detail.