LIFE on Mars imagined in Lego, why chocolate may become extinct, the ethics of artificial intelligence and an exhibition of tiny homes are just some of the highlights for visitors to this year’s Edinburgh International Science Festival.
Building Better Worlds is the theme behind the 2016 line-up unveiled today, which will see a range of performances, exhibitions, interactive events and discussions for adults and children at venues around the city.
The focus is on how science, technology, engineering and design can benefit the planet and the ways people live.
Internationally acclaimed percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie will be making her debut appearance at the festival this year, performing a new piece by composer Jill Jarman in the world premiere of Sounds of Science.
The 21-minute “soundscape” is an interpretation of the ways humans have affected the world in terms of science and engineering over the past 10,000 years.
Artificial intelligence is one of the key topics within the Being Human strand, which looks at improving lives through better health and understanding of the human condition.
Science and technology have the potential to help us address so many of the key challenges we faceAmanda Tyndall, Creative director, Edinburgh International Science Festival
European Space Agency astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy will be touching down to appear at the Updates from Space event, where he will give an insider’s view on Tim Peake’s working conditions on the International Space Station.
If you’ve ever wanted to know about the maths behind football then More than a Game, with guests including Scots sports pundit Pat Nevin, can shed some light.
An appearance by Lee Towersey, one of the brains behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens robot R2D2, looks certain to be a crowd-puller. As do hands-on events Explore Our World in Minecraft and Mars Master Constructors, where children can take inspiration from artist Warren Elsmore’s Lego model of a Martian habitat to create their own vision of extraterrestrial life.
Tried-and-tested favourites include the Big Bang Bash, this year featuring music by David Bowie, as well as futuristic foodie strand Gastrofest and the Mini Maker Faire.
The Reading Experiment is also returning, with highlights such as a session with the creator of blockbuster virtual reality game EVE:Valkyrie.
Exhibitions include Tiny Homes Village, a large-scale outdoor installation that explores how small building could offer realistic solutions to modern living.
Festival creative director Amanda Tyndall said: “I’m excited by the mix of world-leading scientists, artists, authors and innovators that will join audiences in Edinburgh to share and debate their visions of a better world.
“Science and technology have the potential to help us address so many of the key challenges we face; from how we feed, heal and fuel the world to how we live happy and fulfilling lives as we do so.”
The 2016 event will focus on “the fertile space where science meets the arts”.
EISF is at venues including Summerhall, the National Museum of Scotland and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh from 26 March until 10 April.