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Cheltenham Science Festival 2017

Add Cheltenham Science Festival 2017 to your Itinerary

Cheltenham Science Festival 2017


Cheltenham Town Hall
Imperial Square
GL50 1QA


Tel: 0844 576 2210

Cheltenham Science Festival celebrates 15th birthday with six-day extravaganza of science and the arts (6-11 June 2017). 
Comedians Dara Ó Briain and Jon Culshaw, musician Evelyn Glennie and writer Lionel Shriver are among an international cast of big thinkers, top scientists and performers coming to Cheltenham Science Festival (6-11 June). Former NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan, Dallas Campbell, Alice Roberts, Jim Al-Khalili, Adam Rutherford, Richard Dawkins, Michael Mosley, Roger Penrose and Marcus du Sautoy are some of the 200+ speakers who will discuss subjects from trailblazing tech to the truth behind fake news. 
With a mission to ‘question everything’, the Festival will explore headline themes of Our Future World, Music and Sound and Mysteries of the Mind alongside a huge range of topics from health and wellbeing, psychology and lifestyle to nature, the law and the search for extra-terrestrial life.  
A series of free activities and interactive zones in the Festival village and on the streets of Cheltenham will encourage visitors to get hands-on. The Discover Zone is a huge free interactive space in Cheltenham Town Hall aimed at inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers. New this year is the MakerShack, a hub of invention and creativity, where visitors can explore high-tech materials, try their hand at crafting, and help code a robot ready for a journey into space. They can also explore the EDF Energy Zone, take part in transport-related activities in the Siemens Curiosity Zone, discover new technologies in the GE Pavilion and embark on the BBC Focus Magazine Science Trail. For the second year, the Festival will bring science to the streets of Cheltenham through its ...around town programme. Visitors can expect pop-up events, science buskers and a Sci Crawl that will take place in unexpected and quirky venues across town. 

Click here to download the programme of FREE events for all ages at this year's Festival.
Guest Directors Guest Directors are Ellen Stofan, former Chief Scientist of NASA and writer and science presenter Dallas Campbell. Dr Stofan will be using her Guest Directorship at Cheltenham to talk about the solar system and the search for extra-terrestrial life, as well as the intersection of science and politics. She will also be interviewed by Jim Al-Khalili for BBC Radio 4’s The Life Scientific. 
Dallas Campbell will be heading up the Our Future World theme, asking big questions about the planet and human society, from climate change to the future of work, food and travel. He’ll also meet audience members for informal discussions in two free afternoon chats. (Wednesday 7th & Thursday 8th June).     

Festival Themes 
Music and Sound Percussionist Evelyn Glennie will perform the inspirational Sounds of Science show – an audio narrative revealing the awe-inspiring story of how humans have changed the world over the last 10,000 years. She also joins neuroscientist Colin Blakemore to discuss how we can not only hear, but ‘feel’ sound. Alice Roberts explores the evolutionary origins of music with cognitive archaeologist Steven Mithen; mathematician Marcus du Sautoy illustrates the symmetry of sound; Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory demonstrates how to evoke emotion in music, while scientist and salsa teacher Jamie Gallagher looks at the science of dance in Strictly Coming Sciencing. We’ll find out how music is being used in clinical settings; how music affects the appreciation of champagne (with a tasting); explore acoustics with the help of a live Piano Trio; ask what makes a musician and debate if science really can explain music at all. 
Our Future World Peering into Guest Director Dallas Campbell’s crystal ball will be: BBC Horizon’s Helen Czerski talking about The Future of Our Oceans and best-selling author Daniel Susskind on The Future of Work and Living In A Machine World. We’ll discuss the benefits and pitfalls of hyper-connectivity; industry experts predict the future of travel; NHS Clinical Lead for Innovation Tony Young and former Chair of the Royal College of GPs Clare Gerada talk about the trailblazing tech at the forefront of the healthcare revolution. Important debates include the creation of negative emissions technologies to control climate change and the long view of population fluctuations; renegade economist Kate Raworth argues for a new model of economics and we consider how we can build successful scientific partnerships in the EU and elsewhere following Brexit. 
Mysteries of the Mind Leading the charge to uncover the mystery of how our brains make us who we are is Chair of Cheltenham Science Festival, Mark Lythgoe. He will bring brain imaging via live link to reveal a hidden brain pathway, and he’ll be showing how to detoxify the brain, attempting to read minds and even predict the day you’ll die. He also invites neuroscientist Beau Lotto to ask big questions about the nature of reality and consciousness. Impressionist Jon Culshaw joins Sophie Scott to find out why laughter is so important; professional baby-watchers Caspar Addyman and Nathalia Gjersoe delve into the minds of babies; Irene Tracey explains new approaches to tackling chronic pain and we take a long hard look at brain-training myths and personality types. 
More Festival topics… 
Popular Science Dara Ó Briain examines the rise of fake news with Ellen Stofan, Buzzfeed’s James Ball, psychologist Stephan Lewandowksy and writer Eliane Glaser. And Vivienne Parry celebrates the 150th anniversary of Marie Curie’s birth with an exploration of the Nobel Prize-winning pioneer’s legacy.  More… 

From vampires to mathematical life hacks, drag acts to Bake Off finalists and the everpopular Over-Ambitious Demo Challenge, there will be plenty of fun. Shows include Dr Jiggs Bowson's Charming Science Cabaret, comedian Gemma Arrowsmith’s EARTHLING and last year’s FameLab UK winner Kyle Evans’ new show Born to Sum. And edible insects find their way into the food chain alongside delicious facts about chocolate, champagne, cheese and coffee.  
Technology Olly Mann presides over a cyber-security hack live on stage; BBC Tech correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones will be asking if Douglas Adams’ fictional Babel fish could become a reality with new translation technology; we look at whether software can be creative; chart the rise of augmented reality; and debate the dominance of algorithms in determining our lives.  
The Universe Guest Director Ellen Stofan explains the hunt for extra-terrestrial life beneath the icy surfaces of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, while Dara Ó Briain asks astronomers if recently discovered exoplanet Proxima-b could one day support human life. Jim AlKhalili and Andrew Pontzen battle it out over the existence of multiverses; Roger Penrose and Marcus du Sautoy explore the limits of human knowledge; while astronomy nut Jon Culshaw finds out what it takes to build a star. 
Nature & Wildlife Legendary wildlife cameraman Doug Allan reveals behind-the-scenes stories of the making of blockbuster television series such as Planet Earth; we ask If We Could Talk to the Animals; we look at the surprising speed at which wildlife is adapting to the city; and scrutinize the lives of birds, domesticated chickens, spiders, mosquitoes and tardigrades. 
Forensics & Law  An innovative mini-strand examines the connection between science and the law: neuroscience’s impact on crime and punishment is explored in The Criminal Mind: Can You Blame Your Brain, the audience can get to grips with science's role in catching criminals in A Guide to Forensics, and play their part as Festival jury in the interactive session Jury LIVE, deciding if the defendant is guilty or not guilty, based on forensic evidence.  
Health & Lifestyle Michael Moseley gets the inside track on how to train for a triathlon with Olympic trainer Steve Ingham and looks into myths around food allergies and intolerances; Fiona Phillips talks to a patient and their carer about living with dementia; Claudia Hammond finds out how to Survive the Workplace; mental health campaigner Bryony Gordon charts the rise of mental illness in young people while Olly Mann and Scummy Mummies podcaster Ellie Gibson give advice on keeping kids’ tech in check.  Andrew Steele takes a sideways look at science spending (only £3 per person per year looking for a cure for cancer); and The Drugs Don’t Work tells the tale of antibiotic resistance through a series of light-hearted sketches.                                                                     

Origins Of Life Looking into the latest research into the human species are anatomist Alice Roberts and geneticist Adam Rutherford in The Incredibly Unlikely History Of Everyone Who Ever Lived, while Mark Maslin shows how collective intelligence ensured Survival of the Smartest. Faraday Prize-winner Nick Lane reveals fascinating new ideas about the singular event that sparked complex life into existence; and Richard Dawkins casts his eye back over his phenomenal career in conversation with Dallas Campbell. 
Family Families can enjoy learning and exploring together through scores of free hands-on activities in the Discover Zone and interactive zones across the site. On Saturday and Sunday there is a varied children’s programme for ages 4 to 10+ with a range of fascinating topics, from alternative histories of life on earth and life in the deep ocean, to space exploration and the hunt for the Higgs Boson.  Favourite CBeebies presenter Maddie Moate and Blue Peter stalwarts Steve Mould and Greg Foot will be there along with Guest Director Ellen Stofan.  

Music Events at Cheltenham Science Festival


Percussionist Evelyn Glennie will perform her inspirational Sounds of Science show (Friday 9 June 7pm) – an audio narrative revealing the awe-inspiring story of how humans have changed the world over the last 10,000 years. She also joins neuroscientist Colin Blakemore to discuss how we can ‘feel’ sound (Saturday 10 June 10am).

Alice Roberts explores the evolutionary origins of music with cognitive archaeologist Steven Mithen in The Singing Neanderthals (Friday 9 June 2.15pm).

Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy illustrates the symmetry of sound (Sunday 11 June 7pm) as he recreates the visually captivating experiment Ernst Chladni toured around the 19th century courts of Europe. Visitors can get hands-on with the Chladni plates in the Festival’s activity tents over the weekend.

Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory is joined by psychologist Catherine Loveday to demonstrate how to evoke emotion in music (Sunday 11 June 2pm). At the end of the session, Will Gregory hopes the audience will be more attuned to their own inner musicality and how they are consciously and sub consciously de-coding what they hear. And in Music on the Brain (Sunday 11 June 5pm) Catherine Loveday uncovers what happens in the brain as we listen to, create and perform music.

In What Makes a Musician (Tuesday 6 June), neuroscientist Vin Walsh joins psychologist Lauren Stewart, music teacher and researcher Adam Ockelford, and composer and guitarist Milton Mermikides to discuss musicality, whether you can teach musicianship, and why some of us are more drawn to making music than others.

Salsa teacher Jamie Gallagher looks at the science of dance in Strictly Coming Sciencing. (Tuesday 6 June).  

Acoustics expert Mark Lewney explores the vibrations, structures and resonances that make up instrumental acoustics as a live Piano Trio performs. (Wednesday 7 June 7.45pm). And Mark Lewney goes head-to-head with philosopher Raymond Tallis to debate if Science can really explain music at all. (Tuesday 6 June 6pm)

Did you know you can taste with your ears? Or that music has a profound effect on the taste of champagne? Wine philosopher Barry Smith demonstrates why what you hear while sipping bubbly can dramatically alter your drinking pleasure. It turns out that if you don’t like the wine, you can just change the music! (Thursday 8 June).

Members booking from 12 April and Public booking opens 19 April.  Sign up for programme announcements at

Box office: 01242 850270. 

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