Honda robot Asimo set to make appearance at science spectacular

THE world's most advanced humanoid robot is to make an appearance in the Capital later this year, as part of a 21st birthday programme for the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Highlights of this year's programme, which was launched this morning, include a chance to take a first-hand look at the revolutionary ASIMO robot.

There will also be a spectacular exhibition examining the very edges of the universe, a sleepover at Edinburgh Zoo and a chance to get hands-on with the latest advances in renewable energy.

Launching the programme on the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, festival director Simon Gage also announced a series of events celebrating the man and his revolutionary ideas.

Mr Gage said: "This is a spectacular programme packed with some of the best popular science events you'll find anywhere in the world.

"It's a sensational way to celebrate the 21st birthday of the first, and I believe best, science festival in the known universe.

"It is a festival that befits an inventive nation that continues to pioneer ways of making the world a better place."

In total, this year's festival will include 170 events in 26 venues over two weeks.

The most eye-catching element of the programme is the first visit to Scotland by ASIMO, which has been created by Honda over the last 22 years.

It is the only robot in the world that walks on two legs, runs, climbs up steps, dances, recognises people and speaks.

The City Art Centre will, for the first time, host part of the family programme – offering seven floors of hands-on experiments and activities.

Funded by a grant from the Scottish Government's Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, the lower ground floor will be packed with activities for youngsters.

The Art Centre will also host the Powerhouse of Genius exhibition, supported by the Scottish Government's Homecoming fund, which will celebrate the story of the pioneering individuals making Scotland one of the world's hotbeds of renewable energy.

The interactive exhibit will give visitors the chance to build a wind turbine or wave power machine, race a hydrogen-powered model car or search out their hot spots with a thermal camera.

Another new venue for the Science Festival is Edinburgh Zoo, which this year will offer the chance to take part in "the ultimate sleepover", where children can find out what animals are active at night and explore behind the scenes.

To celebrate the International Year of Astronomy, The Royal Observatory will host a range of star related activities and workshops, while there will also be free exhibition in St Andrew Square – From Earth to the Universe.

The festival, which runs from April 4 to April 18, will also include talks by leading scientists and thinkers such as Richard Dawkins, Vivienne Parry and Professor Jon Beckwith.

Robots and ghosts in store

ASIMO: The world-famous robot will be making his first visit to Scotland, allowing people to shake hands with, and talk to, the most advanced humanoid robot on the planet.

&#149 PIXAR: David Baraff, Senior Animation Scientist at Pixar Studios, will introduce a screening of Ratatouille, and discuss the science behind its groundbreaking graphics.

&#149 FROM EARTH TO THE UNIVERSE: A free exhibit which will take over St Andrew Square, this will allow people to look at striking images of the outer reaches of the universe.

&#149 THE SCIENCE OF GHOSTS: This one-day examination of the science of ghosts, featuring well-known TV psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman and the ghost consultant on the Harry Potter movies, will see the audience witness a genuine Victorian phantasmagoria and discover how poltergeists once panicked the nation.

&#149 THE POWERHOUSE OF GENIUS: Taking up the top floor of the City Art Centre, this Scottish Homecoming 2009 exhibition will let people get hands-on with the latest renewable energy designs.

&#149 TALKING SCIENCE: Edinburgh University's state of the art Infomatics Forum will host events and debates on topics including diabetes, climate change and Darwin.

&#149 Full details of all the events, activities, workshops and talks in all the venues can be found at

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