July 2017

Festival Weekend 28 – 30th JULY 2017



Winchester Science Festival is the working project of the not-for-profit organisation Winchester
Science Foundation. We aim to…

  • Champion and celebrate science with the public
  • Promote science education and science communication
  • Raise the awareness of Hampshire science
  • Science

  • Hands on Exhibits

  • Plenty of Entertainment

Schedule 2016 – Introduced by Dr James Dyke – University of Southampton

Friday 22nd
Saturday 23rd
Sunday 24th
10:00 AM
Dr Ben Littlefield – Festival Opener

Opening the weekend festival with a bang.

11:15 AM
Dr Karen Masters – Toys in Space

In this interactive talk, Dr. Masters will use multimedia resources to show the audience the history of toys in space, and how they are used to learn about and demonstrate the micro-gravity environment of space. This will include the audience having the opportunity to make their own simple toys and compare their behaviour in the gravity of Earth with what they do in space. Dr. Masters will also introduce the audience to Stargazer Lottie, the “first doll in space.”

12:30 PM
Dr David Martill – Snakes with Legs

Snakes are incredibly diverse animals, despite they all look like snakes. Some snakes burrow, some snakes are deadly venomous, while others can crush a man to death and swallow a goat. At least one snake almost flies and a fossil snake from Colombia Titanoboa cerrejonensis, was the largest, and heaviest snake yet discovered. It weighs in at around 1,135 kg (2,500 lb) and may have been 12.8 m (42 ft) in length! Snakes are famous for many things, but are most notable for their lack of legs. Evolutionary studies show that snakes evolved from animals with four legs, but which animals? A search of the fossil record provides tantalising clues to the origin of snakes, and shows that a lack of legs is not their defining character.

02:30 PM
Astronuts – Jon Milton

An amazing interactive comedy science show exploring everything you need to know about space. Packed full of explosive experiments and delightful demonstrations suitable for all the family.

03:45 PM
Kate Bellingham – Tomorrow’s World Today

TV Presenter, Engineer, Champion for girls in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics will be presenting at Winchester Science Festival. Talk details coming shortly.

05:00 PM
Dr Helen Mason – Space, the Sun and Tim Peake

Tim Peake, an ESA/UK astronaut, launched to the ISS on 15th December 2015 for six months. He has faced some extraordinary challenges, including a spacewalk with his colleague, NASA’s Tim Kopra, to fix the ISS’s solar panels. Schools in the UK have been following him every step of the way, and even training with him through the Space to Earth Challenge, one of the many projects in the UK Space Agency’s #Principia educational programme. Astronauts need to keep fit in space otherwise their body – bones, muscles and heart – would simply waste away. Tim has been working hard on science experiments, but also seen some wonderful sights like the aurora caused by our star, the Sun.

10:00 AM
Dr Anne McBride – Happy Rabbits, Happy Owners: applying science to pet keeping

Many adults and children have small mammals as pets, such as guinea pigs, mice, rats, or degus. The most popular species is the Rabbit, with over a million kept as pets in the UK.  We often have a great deal of affection for these animals, but are not always aware of what they needs and how to provide for them properly. This means that, despite our best intentions, for many life is much shorter and more stressful than it should be.


Research increases our understanding of what these animals need to be happy and healthy. This talk will consider aspects of the rabbit world, their ethology, senses and physical and cognitive abilities. Applying this information to how we keep our pets means that we can have animals who are relaxed, more healthy and thus more interesting and enjoyable companions.

11:15 AM
Michael Story – How to predict the future better than a psychic or a spy

Since 2011, a team of 200 civilians has been predicting the future more accurately than US intelligence agencies. Formed five years ago under the auspices of IARPA (the US Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, informally known as ‘DARPA for spies’), the Good Judgment Project’s ‘Superforecaster’ teams have been forecasting the specifics of North Korean missile programmes, the movement of Russian troops and the longevity of Robert Mugabe, achieving a 50% lower error rate than the previous state of the art. This talk will cover who makes these forecasts, how they are doing it, and some techniques shown to make nearly anyone more accurate when predicting the future.

12:30 PM
Dr Kathryn Harkup – Dying to be Beautiful

Throughout history humans have sought to embellish and augment their physical appearance. As fashions change new contraptions, cosmetics and costumes are devised. There has often been little regard given to comfort and well-being when it comes to the body beautiful, and as this talk illustrates, some fashions can be fatal.

02:30 PM
Becky Smethurst – Galaxy Zoo: From the Lab to your Living Room

What if you could do science from the comfort of your own living room? Would you? With Galaxy Zoo that’s now possible, with everyone from toddlers to grandma’s all involved in cutting edge astrophysical research into the evolution of the Universe. Join one of the team scientists as she journeys through some of the groundbreaking results that have come from this huge public collaboration of over 200,000 people and shows just how powerful the crowd really can be.

03:45 PM
Dr Rich Boakes – The history and future of the Web

A look at where the World Wide Web came from, how it evolved to its present form, and what will influence its future development.

05:00 PM
Dr Josie Pegg – Parasites – Horrors or heroes?

Parasites are the stuff of nightmares.

They cause sickness, disability and death, often in bizarre and horrifying ways. And yet, parasites are everywhere and have been since the beginning of life; in fact it’s estimated around 75% of life on earth is parasitic, and (subject to human intervention) functions quite well. So what if we’re wrong about parasites? Are there any positives to parasites? Could parasites really be the good guys?

This talk challenges everything you think you know about parasites and asks whether they are really horrors or heroes..

11:15 AM
Jess Spurrell – Frozen Aliens and Superpowers

Over 100 years ago in Holland, a scientist (Heike Kamerlingh Onnes) designed a way to turn helium gas into a liquid – and the temperature of the liquid dropped to -269 degrees C i.e. very, very, very cold: a Cryogenic temperature. He then designed more experiments to find out what happened when he put things in this liquid and made them very, very, very cold too. In 1911 one of these things was mercury and what happened was magical: it could conduct electricity without any resistance! It was a Superconductor.

Modern superconductors can be cooled with liquid nitrogen (at -196 degrees C) as can lots of other things, including sausages, bananas, flowers, tennis balls, school students (only joking!) and more. Using such items and lots of liquid nitrogen, various aspects of science and engineering, from material properties to engineering design, as well as the uses of cryogenics, are explained and explored via exciting demonstrations topped off with the ever-popular levitating magnet demonstration.

The demonstrations will be preceeded with a look at some amazing female scientists & engineers throughout history (my STEM Heroes).

12:30 PM
Dr Kat Arney – Herding Hemingway’s Cats – how do our genes work?

The language of genes has become common in the media. We know they make your eyes blue, your hair curly or your nose straight. We’re told that genes control the risk of cancer, heart disease, alcoholism or Alzheimer’s. The cost of DNA sequencing has plummeted from billions of pounds to a few hundred, and gene-based advances in medicine hold huge promise.

There are 2.2 metres of DNA inside every one of your cells, encoding roughly 20,000 genes. These are the ‘recipes’ that tell our cells how to make the building blocks of life, along with all the control switches ensuring they’re turned on and off at the right time and in the right place. But rather than a static string of genetic code, this is a dynamic, writhing biological library. With the help of cats with thumbs, fish with hips and wobbly worms, Kat will unpack some of the mysteries in our DNA and explain the latest thinking about how our genes work.

02:30 PM
Ian Redmond – Gardeners of the Forest

Drawing on four decades of research with gorillas, starting as an assistant to Dian Fossey, Ian Redmond OBE passionately argues why we must protect these and other species such as elephants because of their important impacts on ecosystem processes that we, even in the industrialised countries of the north, depend on.

03:45 PM
Timandra Harkness – Big Data: Does Size Matter?

Big Data knows where you’ve been and who your friends are. It knows what you like and what makes you angry. It can predict what you’ll buy, where you’ll be the victim of crime and when you’ll have a heart attack. Big Data knows you better than you know yourself, or so it claims.

But how well do you know big data?

From science to smart cities, business to politics, self-quantification to the Internet of Things, people are talking about big data as a force for change. Privacy, democracy, even our ideas of who we are, could be transformed.
But you don’t need to be a Silicon Valley tech prodigy to understand what’s going on. Timandra Harkness writes comedy, not computer code. The only programs she makes are on the radio. If she can understand what’s going on, so can you.
Timandra asks the big questions about where it’s taking us: is it too big for its boots, or does it think too small? Are you a data point or a human being?
She aims to leave you armed and ready to decide what you think about one of the decade’s big ideas: big data.

05:00 PM
Ceri Brenner – Super powerful lasers: creative curiosity inspiring innovation

Pressing FIRE on the most powerful laser in the world delivers a packet of light that is a thousand billion billion times more intense than the sunlight you feel while out on the beach in peak summer! That’s super intense! Just one single pulse from these lasers can heat matter to millions of degrees in less than a billionth of a second. Lasers are a beautiful and powerful tool. They’re fascinating to observe and inspiring to study. In describing scientists and artists, artist Alistair McClymont remarks: “both ultimately search for truth and both see beauty in that truth”. Join physicist Dr Ceri Brenner as she reveals the beauty and curiosity behind her work with the most powerful lasers in the world, how she is inspired by the world-changing applications that she works on and the innovative technology that she is creating. Ceri will explore how this extreme process is being used to design micro-accelerators and how she is developing the technology for applications that can spot and zap away cancer, locate landmines and even take a snapshot of a jet engine rotating at full speed.

Select date to see events.



Come and see our free exhibits and activities for some hands-on science fun!




Winchester Science Festival is grateful for the kind and generous support of the the following partners.





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