Sunday, February 16, 2020

Northern Ireland Science Festival – AI, Antarctica, brewing tea, juggling custard, saving energy, and discounting torture (until 23 February 2020)

Northern Ireland Science Festival is back for its sixth year, running until Sunday 23 February with its blend of science exploration, education and storytelling, with a particular focus on the climate crisis and championing sustainability. Always enlightening and never dull, the festival programme is full of play and discovery – with an enhanced Create, Make, Play set of hands on workshops – that will attract the young and old over the half term holidays.

With 270 events stuffed into in the 11-day programme, here are just a few of the myriad of gems coming up during this half term week.

Ask Us Anything sees a panel of Ulster University experts try and answer any science questions you pose. Belfast Campus, Monday 17 February at 6–7pm. Free but need to book place in advance.

StrongWomen Science sees fast-paced duo Aoide and Maria use circus skills to reveal scientific secrets. Expect liquid juggling, fire-eating, feats of balance and extreme acrobatics.
Tuesday 18 at 11am and 2pm in Crescent Arts Centre. Aged 7+. £6.

Margaret Sayers from ESB and Engineers Ireland will deliver the Sir Bernard Crossland Lecture in Queen’s University’s Riddel Hall. An electrical engineer by training, she’ll be talking about how we can switch on to the energy transition that is seeing a move to low-carbon products, e-cars and smart energy. Tuesday 18 at 5.30–7pm. Free but need to book in advance.

The Science and Engineering of Superheroes is Professor Colin Turner’s lecture topic as he assesses the validity or falsehood of some of the science and engineering that surrounds popular superheroes of page and screen, and gets the audience to help with some experiments. Wednesday 19 at 6–7pm in Ulster University Belfast Campus. SOLD OUT Free but need to book in advance.

This year’s Turing lecture – Digital Twins: The Next Phase of the AI Revolution? will be delivered by Professor Mark Girolami on the topic of intelligent digital avatars. Thursday 20 at 6–8pm in the Assembly Buildings Conference Centre. Free but need to book in advance.

If you’ve watched The Report on Amazon Prime you’ll be aware of some of the issues behind Why Torture Doesn’t Work, Shane O’Mara’s explanation of the neuroscience of suffering and why it produces deeply unreliable and even counterproductive and dangerous information. Thursday 20 at 8–9pm on The Crumlin Road Gaol. Aged 18+. £8.

The Science of Beer and Cheese Tour tastes the refreshing craft drinks on offer at Northbound Brewery in Campsie before a scenic trip to Dart Mountain Cheese in the Sperrin Mountains to hear their story and sample their award-winning produce. Friday 21 February. Age 18+. £18.

The Mathematics of Dessins d’Enfants is an interactive exploration of the incredible mathematical theory of children’s drawings. Models, illustrations and hands-on activities will unlock some of the secrets. Saturday 22 at 10–11am in The Open University offices. Free but need to book in advance.

White Space with Beth Healey hears from the medical doctor who conducted a year-long mission for the European Space Agency to a research station in Antarctica to study the effects of the extreme environment with its isolation, inaccessibility, altitude and low levels of light. Hear about her daily life during 2017, and what lessons it teaches us for future settlements on Mars. Sunday 23 at 1–2pm in Ulster Museum. £5.

Spilling the Tea on the Perfect Brew is a tea testing session in the front Green Room at the Black Box where SUKI Tea will share the history of company founder Oscar Woolley and help you create your own personalised blend of tea. Rescheduled to Tuesday 3 March at 7–8.30pm. £10.

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