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Research the Fringe 2015

by on 2015/08/07

So it’s August and time for Edinburgh to host the World’s biggest festival of performance arts, otherwise known as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. As usual this runs alongside the prestigious Edinburgh International Festival, the International Book Festival, and the Edinburgh International TV Festival. As we did last year we would like to provide suggestions for research-related shows and events for any Research the Headlines readers who may be visiting Edinburgh this month.

First up, a plug for regular RtH contributor Alan Gow, who is again presenting as part of the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas. This year Alan will be looking at the ingredients for a perfect brain in “The Great British Brain Off”. You can get a taste of the show at the CoDI website here or by watching the trailer. The show is at Venue 372 – The Stand in the Square, from 3-4pm on Thursday 27th of August and tickets are £8/£7.

As you might expect there are a number of interesting talks as part of the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas 2015, 24 in total running every day at 3pm from the 7th to the 30th of August at the Stand in the Square. The Cabaret is organised through the Edinburgh Beltane public engagement network and you can find a full list here. Controversial titles include: “Soak up the sun and to hell with skin cancer!“, “Women! Science is still not for you!” and “Edinburgh Should Ban Students“.

The Edinburgh Skeptics group are hosting a number of talks at their venue in Edinburgh’s allegedly most haunted pub, The Banshee Labyrinth (Venue 156), between the 8th and 29th of August. These events cover a very wide range of topics from vaccination controversies to the secret life of the public toilet. They even go looking for Bigfoot in Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens, an experiment that one of the Research the Headlines writers may have insider knowledge of. It can get hot inside a monkey suit… All of the Skeptics events are free and start at 7.50pm each evening during the run.

Other talks that might be of interest include Fringe regular Professor Richard Wiseman on How to be Happy, Healthy, Wealthy and Wise (Venue 20, August 17th, 12.45pm, £12), and TV astronomer Mark Thompson who will present a A Space Traveller’s Guide to the Solar System (Venue 20, August 16th, 12.45, £12) as well as running a Space Cadets Training Academy (Venue 372, August 7th-15th, 13.40, £8/£6) for younger children.

There are a number of stand up comedy shows with a scientific theme at this year’s fringe:

Lieven has appeared as a guest on the QI podcast “No Such Thing as a Fish“, and the QI Elves will be recording five shows live at the Fringe this year. Unfortunately it looks like all of the shows are sold out but there may still be tickets available from the Underbelly Potterow (Venue 358).

Although it may seem like the fringe is all about comedy there is also theatre to be found. Of particular interest might be the play about the mathematician and computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, Ada. This Edinburgh University Theatre Company production runs from August 5th-30th (not 7th, 12th, 19th or 26th) at Venue 49 at 3.00pm, with tickets from £8. The Tangram Theatre Company will be presenting their “Scientrilogy” of plays about Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, and Charles Darwin over the Festival. The lead actors were recently married, according to the Edinburgh Reporter website, on the same date that Marie and Pierre Curie were wed! Details of the three plays are as follows:

There are a number of exhibitions and similar events taking place during the Festival that may be of interest to our readers. The Royal Botanic Gardens (Venue 28) are hosting an exhibition by Dutch art collective Tropism, entitled Photosynthesis. This features images of plants taken using unusual visualisation techniques, offering a new view of plants.  Meanwhile the University of Edinburgh Centre for Research Collections has an exhibition on the history of genetics research at the University. “Towards Dolly: A Century of Animal Genetics in Edinburgh” can be found in the Main Library Building (Venue 126) in George Square. Both of these events are free and are open from 10.00am each day.

The University of Edinburgh’s Koestler Parapsychology Unit will be opening their doors for the first time this year to celebrate their 30th Anniversary. The event “Unbelievable: The Science of the Paranormal” will involve a look around the Unit and a chance to take part in experiments revealing the truth about dowsing, telepathy and psychic readings. This is another free, unticketed, event that will take place at 3.00pm each day from August 15-22 in the University of Edinburgh Psychology Building (Venue 346).

As usual during the Festival, the National Museum of Scotland will be running their “Museum After Hours: Friday Fringe Takeover” events on the 14th, 21st and 28th of August. The events run from 7.30-10.30pm each evening and cost £16 (£14 for NMS members). Tickets usually sell fast for these events so be quick. The Museum’s current main exhibition Photography: a Victorian Sensation is highly recommended as well.

Finally we come to the Book Festival, here there are two main strands that might be of interest. Firstly there is a Guest Selector theme with speakers selected by Biologist and Author, Gill Arbuthnot. Her selection of speakers comes under the headline: “The Reason, the Passion and the Romance of Science” and includes Professor Robert Winston and renowned physicist Christophe Galfard. The other main theme we would like to highlight is on the subject of mental health and how we understand it, a topic that is regularly discussed by Research the Headlines. “Staying Well” covers a range of topics from dementia to addiction. In addition to these major themes there are a couple of individual events at the book festival that are of interest from a researcher’s point of view. In “Feeding a Monster” (21st Aug, 12.15pm, £10/£8), Professor Tim Spector, author of The Diet Myth, looks at new research into the obesity epidemic; while novelist and psychologist Charles Fernyhough looks at the scientific impact of reading with novelist Nicola Morgan and writer Cathy Rentzenbrink in the latest National Conversation event “The Science of Reading“(31st Aug, 7.30pm, £10/£8).

As we did last year, we would ask any readers who would like to suggest events we’ve missed to tell us in the comments below. If you’re in Edinburgh in August please enjoy yourselves and we hope it doesn’t rain too much!

With huge thanks to Stewart Smith for a great job in compiling our Research at the Fringe post for 2015!

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