Android football match among main attractions at Edinburgh Science Festival
A NEW spin on "the beautiful game" is promised at Scotland's main science festival next month when a kick-about is staged between robots.
• An all-android football match will be one of the highlights at this year's Edinburgh Science Festival
Experts at Edinburgh University will give an insight into what it takes to make a robot "bend it like Beckham" before letting Android FC's finest loose on the pitch.
The event is just one of a series being hosted in April at the annual Edinburgh Science Festival by the world-leading robotics experts at the university's School of Informatics.
Others will give an insight into how the latest robots are being developed to detect human emotions, and how new models are beginning to detect simple changes in facial expression.
The university's events are expected to be among the hottest tickets for the two-week festival, which will announce details of its 2010 programme today.
Other highlights include the premiere of a new play inspired by the latest developments in genetic engineering, the installation of a huge 3D sound chamber at one of the city's best-known beauty spots, and a look at the evolution of heavy metal music.
The festival will explore its darker side with insights into what makes people commit horrific acts of mutilation and murder, an examination of how the latest forensic science techniques can crack crime cases, what makes people indulge in the seven deadly sins, and the best ways to make artificial blood.
Guest speakers include the biologist and author Richard Dawkins and psychiatrist Raj Persaud.
A "blood bar" is also being installed in the festival's main venue – the City Art Centre – to give youngsters the chance to explore the science behind what happens when they get a cut or bruise.
Other events include a singles night for science buffs, a look at the faulty maths equations that could have triggered the global economic meltdown, and an exhibition of the collection of the celebrated 18th century Scots astronomer James Ferguson.
Dr Sethu Vijayakumar, robotics research leader at Edinburgh University, said his Road to Robocup event would show the progress being made towards having a team of robots stage a proper match against footballers.
He said the event would include taking the audience through the process of creating the robots.
"We start off looking at the various animation techniques that have been used in the latest computer games and in films like Avatar, and what we have to do to try to make a real robot do the same kind of things, so that it responds like a human being to sound and movement, and has a sense of balance, motion and sensitivity.
"We've been working on this since the autumn and this is the first time we'll be allowing the public to see how the research has been going."
More than 200 events will be staged between 3-17 April at venues including the Royal Botanic Garden, National Museum of Scotland and Our Dynamic Earth, the Jam House music venue, the Filmhouse cinema and the Scotch Whisky Experience.
Simon Gage, festival director, said: "This is a festival programme to match the very best science festivals in the world. It offers a stellar collection of the country's best science presenters, performers, filmmakers and comedians.
"Whether it's watching a cow autopsy, climbing into a giant artery, laughing at a night of stand-up after analysing cocktails, this festival lets you rip the white coat off science to reveal the bizarre, the intriguing and the occasionally mind-blowing."
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