My Cheltenham Science Festival Wish List – 2016

Cheltenham, Days Out
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I blogged recently about our visit to the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which was incredibly child friendly and full of families, so thought, I’d do a wish list of the events I’d love to attend at the upcoming Cheltenham Science Festival (#cheltscifest).

The Cheltenham Science Festival 2016 runs from 1-12th June 2016 and includes so many events. From Stargazing, to UV light photography (both free events!!), to Embarrassing Bodies and getting a glimpse of life inside GCHQ. As regular readers will know, I have a science background and in fact I studied earth science at university – which is really a geology degree. What you might not know is that geology includes an awful lot of chemistry, physics and mathematics, as well as volcanoes and collecting rock samples. Hence, the Cheltenham Science Festival appeals to me and why I’m writing a wish list of events I’d love to attend. We?don’t have a baby sitter, so I most likely can’t get to most:

?1) Stargazing

The blurb says: “Join the Cotswold Astronomical Society for an evening of stargazing, with a chance to observe the heavens yourself: including the crescent moon, the moons of Jupiter, Mars and the rings of Saturn.”

I grew up stargazing with my parents, who were always ‘tuned’ into these sorts of things, driving in the evening I’d always be staring at the sky for glimpses of Orion’s Belt, the Plough or even just the North Star and an occasional lucky view of the red tinged Mars.

Free!?Thursday 9th & Friday 10th June at 9.45pm)

2) Science Question Time

This is billed as: “Explore today?s biggest debates, newest discoveries and favourite Festival moments with journalists from The Times and a selection of the day?s speakers.”?

Such a topical event, and seriously, getting right into the daily discussions, and hearing some of the day’s speakers.

Another Freebie Wednesday, Thursday,?Friday 10th June at 4.15?… I have my fingers crossed I might be able to take Toddler H along to this (please keep your fingers crossed everyone!!!)

3) Chocolatology: The Spectacular Science Of Chocolate

The blurb says:”The BBC?s Gastronaut Stefan Gates and chemist Andrea Sella present the most delicious show on earth, full of meltingly edible science of all kinds. With some crazy concoctions, sights and smells to delight your senses and quite possibly an Eiffel Tower made from chocolate, what more could you want?”

Wow, just wow… many of you will know I’m a chocolate lover. I don’t think I’ve mentioned before how I went off chocolate during early pregnancy, and also during my initial battle and diagnosis with Crohns disease. A?very?very hard 6 months…. ill and not even wanting chocolate, just jelly and ice cream – yes that was my request for my 23rd birthday. Seriously, if I go off chocolate, something big is going on!! Back to the point though, this sounds like a delicious and very very different to anything I’ve been to before, and well, come on, it involves chocolate!

?6 Wednesday 8th June 4.30

(reading the special information for children and families, I think children are allowed as long as they are accompanied, it does say 7+ as well, so I’m not sure I would be able to take the toddler as she’s 18 month).?

4) Embarrassing Bodies

The blurb says: “The BAFTA award-winning show Embarrassing Bodies has helped many overcome taboo issues, debunking myths and raising health awareness across the country. Joined by Sally Evans, a former patient whose life was changed forever by the show, Doctors Christian Jessen and Dawn Harper and scientist James Logan take you behind the scenes of this compelling series.”

This sounds interesting, we went through a phase of watching this programme week after week, and do still watch it, though not as religiously. It’s amazing what the human body goes through and what people?can live with for so long. It really does make you think, and sometimes cringe!

?7 Tuesday 7th June 4.30

5) For Your Eyes Only: The Secret Life of GCHQ

The blurb says: “Historian, author and Times columnist Ben Macintyre interviews a senior GCHQ?official about life inside Britain?s most secretive intelligence agency. Famous for its work on the German Enigma codes at Bletchley Park, GCHQ ? from its iconic Cheltenham HQ ? is now at the forefront of the battle against terrorism and cybercrime: threats which are growing in number and sophistication every day. What is life like inside ?the doughnut? and why is their work so important?”

I watched The Imitation Game, like many millions of others and thought it was fascinating, and, occasionally see a documentary about the war, code breaking efforts, and Enigma… so this would be such an interesting talk.

?9 Tuseday 7th 6.30pm

6) Placebo: All in the Mind

The blurb says: “Sugar pills, injections of nothing, even sham surgery ? studies show that, more often than you?d expect, placebos really work. Can they actually be as effective as ?real? treatment? Psychologist Felicity Bishop, surgeon Andrew Carr and lead author on a report about placebo surgery Andrew George explore why placebos work and the ethics behind using them.”

We’ve all heard about placebos and this sounds like an interesting talk. I’d love to hear the numbers, the percentages and their examples and of course, the ethics…. lets face it in this time of everything having to be clear cut, transparent and traceable, how does not giving a real drug pass ethically?

?9 Tuesday 7th 6.30pm

7) The Ocean Debate

The blurb says: “Physicist and oceanographer Helen Czerski challenges her band of ocean experts to save their research from being jettisoned to save our sinking ship. Biogeochemist Dan Jones, oceanographer Stephanie Henson, marine biologist Nick Higgs and paleoclimatologist David Thornalley discuss their time at sea and why their work matters as they try to defend their favourite piece of scientific equipment from being thrown overboard.”

A very interesting subject and a debate I’d love to hear.

?9 Tuesday 7th 6.30pm?

8) Can We Afford Our Medicine

The blurb says: “The NHS spends ?15 billion on medicines ? and the bill goes up every year. No matter how effective a drug, it must be affordable and imaginative new approaches are needed. The British Pharmacological Society?s David Webb, clinical pharmacologist?Ken Paterson and clinical trial expert Frances MacDonald ask you for a second opinion and discuss what needs to change to ensure innovations like personalised medicines can be an affordable reality.”

Given the recent Meningitis B vaccine publicity, the NHS spending budgets and approach to how they and the Government allocate spending has?been making headlines, so I’d love to hear this talk. I know it’ll cover other issues, other illnesses and issues…. all of which are very interesting.

?7 Thursday 9th 1pm

9) Is Beauty Skin Deep

The blurb says: “Is beauty simply in the eye of the beholder, or do our other senses have a role to play? How does our skin and hair age? Join chemist and cosmetics expert Steven Shiel for a demo-filled look at the science behind beauty and explore some of the myths surrounding what controls the way we look and what we can and can?t do about it.”

Well ladies, I’m sure this has you all intrigued! Are the moisturisers worth it? Are the hair treatments doing anything?

?9 Thursday 9th 6pm


10) BREXIT and British Science

The blurb says: “Is beauty simply in the eye of the beholder, or do our other senses have a role to play? How does our skin and hair age? Join chemist and cosmetics expert Steven Shiel for a demo-filled look at the science behind beauty and explore some of the myths surrounding what controls the way we look and what we can and can?t do about it.”

Sounds like a must see given the EU Referendum later this month! The Cheltenham Science Festival is really getting into current issues with this one!!!

?8 Friday 10th 11.30am

11) The Life Project

The blurb says: “What makes some people happy, healthy and successful ? and others less so? In 1946, UK scientists began tracking thousands of British children born in a single week to find out. Writer Helen Pearson and researcher Diana Kuh discuss why this study is the envy of the world and how the results affect our lives today. Joining them is Cheltonian Patricia Malvern, a 70-year participant of the project.”

What an interesting concept, and amazing amazing project to hear about. I’m desperate to know what they have learnt that has effected our lives today?

?8 Friday 10th 1.30pm

12) Behind The Scenes of Call The Midwife

The blurb says: “Medical dramas tread a fine line between accuracy and storytelling. How does the long-running, popular drama Call The Midwife manage the balance? Actor Stephen McGann, midwifery advisor Terri Coates and science journalist Ginny Smith reveal life behind the scenes. Find out how medical procedures are adapted for TV, the training involved, what it?s like to tackle challenging topics such as thalidomide, and the impact of the show on its viewers.”

I haven’t religiously watched this, or seen much of it at all…. but this sounds really interesting as I’m sure many of the principals apply across TV.

?10 Saturday 11th 10am

13) Hannah Fry: The Data?of Our Lives

The blurb says: “The more we use technology, the more footprints we leave behind ? in almost everything that we do. What do the patterns of your life say about you? Mathematician Hannah Fry runs the numbers as she charts our relationships with data: how, regardless of our illusions of free will, we can be surprisingly easy to predict; and despite the data deluge we seem as ill-informed as ever.”

I worked in data analytics for a while so this is right up my street. Predictive analytics and well anything number-y and making patterns with them really intrigues me.

?8 Sunday 12th 2pm

14) Fighting Crime with Big Data

The blurb says: “Big data ? the data produced and analysed through our modern technological lifestyle ? is being touted as a lifesaver. Can it really save lives? These vast amounts of information can, in fact, be used to solve and even predict crimes. How does this work? And is it ethical, or legal? Join mathematician Hannah Fry, lawyer Marion Oswald and author of Big Data: Does Size Matter? Timandra Harkness to hear their thoughts.”

Again, another data-y event and one that is surely quite topical and useful in our society.

?10 Sunday 12 4pm

15) David Baddiel Quantum Mechanics On Stage

The blurb says: “Richard Feynman has been quoted saying ?if you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don?t understand quantum mechanics?. If Feynman thought it a tough subject, imagine trying to translate it for the stage! Comedian and novelist David Baddiel and physicist Jim Al-Khalili discuss the trials and tribulations of integrating the strange theoretical world into David?s new paradoxical play.”

Again, something that doesn’t come along every day, the juxtaposition of a physicist and comedian, the portrayal of such a complex science, one that baffles so many, the how will they do is question which obviously is being asked.

?8 Friday 10th 2pm


Family events:

There is even Build your own Robot for those age 9+, Your Unbelieveable Brain for those 8+, Capturing the Sun (11+)) which is a workshop building your own sun capturing camera. Actually the chocolate event I mentioned above is a family event for children 7+. A list of family events at the festival are here.

The Cheltenham Science Festival really strives to be family friendly by having a space dome, free interactive zones, and a BBC Science Zone, as well as free activities (listed here).


So as you can see, so many fab events… and many more are located on the Cheltenham Science Festival?website.

I’ll write a post after the event…

Lynne x


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  • Reply
    Coombe Mill - Fiona
    June 4, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Some great sounding topics being covered there, I bet it will be standing room only at the chocolate one! #KCACOLS
    Coombe Mill – Fiona recently posted…Padstow Tide Times for 4th June 2016My Profile

  • Reply
    June 5, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Him Indoors would love this. He always insists on watching any space/physics programs that are on. More of a history buf myself but I do like David Baddiel…! #KCACOLS
    Sarah recently posted…Easy Peasy Pancake RecipeMy Profile

  • Reply
    Azaria Lynch
    June 5, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    This looks so fab! My hubby went a number of years ago during his Phd and thoroughly enjoyed it. Will need to look into it once the little one is a bit older.

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

    Azaria- Being Mrs Lynch
    Azaria Lynch recently posted…Fitness Friday: Tone It Up Bikini Series Week 6My Profile

  • Reply
    Carol Cameleon
    June 6, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    Oh. My. Goodness! I’ve rekindled a love of science recently because our little girl (6) is really loving it. This whole event sounds intriguing and I’ll watch with interest when you post more on the sections. Thanks for this. Interesting reading 🙂 #kcacols
    Carol Cameleon recently posted…“The Friendship Journey” ~ poem #WonderfulWorldofWritingMy Profile

  • Reply
    Becky, Cuddle Fairy
    June 7, 2016 at 11:00 am

    Wow there really are so many wonderful events! The build your own robot sounds brilliant – I know my 9 year old would love to do that! Thanks so much for linking up with us at #BloggerClubUK
    Becky, Cuddle Fairy recently posted…The Happiness Series with DannyUKMy Profile

  • Reply
    June 10, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Aw man this sounds really interesting and so far away! I would love to go to 6 and 8. I work in a pharmacy and I see so much waste. #kcacols
    Bread recently posted…Wordless Wednesday – Birds In The ParkMy Profile

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