From Frankenstein’s monster to the future of AI and from outer space to the inside of the brain – The Big Bang Weekend explores the mechanics of life.
The arts, literature and science event, in Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town, will be an inspiring and entertaining mix of talks by leading scientists and authors, plus comedy, music, film, cabaret, food and drink. With lots to do for adults and children The Big Bang Weekend is all about the search for life – wherever it may be and whatever shape it takes.
Synthetic biology and robotics experts from the University of Edinburgh will leave their labs to play a leading role in the event – talking to the public about their world-leading work in everything from cloning to artificial intelligence. There will be a Frankenstein scholar, a Comedy Central comedian and Dr Jane Greaves, this year's Hoyle Prize winner for her work on exoplanet habitability.
And there will also be fringe events such as film screenings, planetarium shows and the infamous pub science quiz. Talks include:
• Why do robots need common sense? Dr Subramanian Ramaoorthy, University of Edinburgh School of Informatics, to explore the future of intelligent machines.
• Life and death in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Sharon Ruston, Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University, reveals the science behind the novel and the anxiety it spawned.
• Life in the cosmos: Cardiff University astronomer Dr Jane Greaves looks at other worlds and which ones are home to aliens.
• Being alive at very small scales: The University of Edinburgh’s Dr Erika Szymanski delves into the world of microscopic life forms – and how Scotland’s world-beating studies in synthetic biology can solve our biggest health challenges.
Stuart Kelly, the author, critic and Wigtown Book Festival favourite will also be discussing the life of Dumfries and Galloway’s James Clerk Maxwell, one of the world’s greatest scientists.
Other Big Bang weekend events and activities include:
• Comedy from Dr Jono Zalay, a neuroscientist who swapped life in the lab for a career in stand up
• The spectacular thinkScience Planetarium Show
• The Big Bang Pub Quiz
• DNA and Danish pastries – special guests, chat and music from the Bookshop Band
• Children’s activities sponsored by the science festival
• Science cabaret and film – the Silent Signal animations.