Bez, Booze and Biology: Manchester Science Festival 2014

6th October 2014

Events

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Three years ago, ReAgent became a corporate member of the Science Museum. I had a few expectations at that time:

  • I expected some of our customers would be impressed at our association with the museum
  • I expected it would reflect our commitment to supporting science learning
  • I expected it to be valuable for raising the profile of our business

One thing I didn’t expect is that I would end up meeting Bez.  I mean, he’s not exactly the first person who springs to mind when you think of science, right?

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Bez and I at the launch of Manchester Science Festival 2014.

Launch of Manchester Science Festival 2014

October 2nd saw the launch of Manchester Science Festival 2014 and, for the third year running, I was kindly invited to the launch party. Like previous years, the event was held at the Museum of Science and Industry.

The evening opened with a talk from the new Museum Director, Sally McDonald, who spoke about the relationship between MOSI and Manchester Science Festival, which is now in its 8th year. She touched on some of the events occurring at MOSI, as well as in and around Manchester while the festival is on.

The next speaker was Robin Philips, Finance Director for Siemens UK and Ireland.  I got chatting to some of the Siemens guys during the night and I was astounded by the level of investment Siemens is making in science events – they are the headline sponsors of a huge number of initiatives – Manchester Science Festival being just one of them. Siemens wants to encourage science learning because there is a lack of students studying science (particularly women).

This is a time-bomb for the employment market and over the next 10-20 years, demand is going to outstrip supply for science graduates, which isn’t good if you’re a company the size of Siemens.  They are sponsoring these events to help curb the trend.

The next speaker was Professor Judith Smith, Dean of Science and Technology at the University of Salford, who spoke about the widespread impact of science and technology in everyone’s life as well as being the lead educational sponsor for the event. Judith was a superb public speaker. She was followed by Dr Marieke Navin, Director of Manchester Science Festival, plus a ‘Special Guest’, which turned out to be Bez from the Happy Mondays. Marieke was discussing the various themes of the Festival this year, one of which was 3D Printing. Bez was present because he was scanned and replicated in model form using a 3D printer. Not one to shy away from the limelight, Bez also said some (very enthusiastic) words about his opposition to fracking.

After this, there was a networking break, with a free bar. And there was some great music being played by Chris Hawkins from BBC 6 Music and later in the evening Craig Potter and Pete Turner from Elbow.

I often say that science (particularly chemistry) has an outdated image. This couldn’t be further from the truth and the launch party was testament to this. As the University of Salford was the lead educational sponsor, the crowd was a pretty young one, there were numerous celebrities, amazing music and a free bar. Add this all together and it made for a really fun, really cool evening.

Humans or Birds?

Later on, some more speakers took the stage including an artist called Marcus Coates, who has been studying the similarity of noises produced by animals.  Every time I visit MOSI I learn something new and last night I learned that many animal voices are amazingly similar to others when they are speeded up or slowed down. A blue whale, for example, sounds virtually identical to a cricket (who would’ve thought?!). And this is true across the whole animal kingdom. Human beings making whooping sounds are remarkably similar to chaffinches, which led to Marcus conducting an amazing live demonstration.

Lo and behold he was right – humans do sound a lot like chaffinches!  I thought this was amazing.

It was a fantastic night at MOSI and I’m really grateful to have been invited.  I don’t know how they do it, but the events I go to at MOSI keep get better and better – the PR guys there do an amazing job and I am very excited about what they have in store next.

For further information about Manchester Science Festival, visit the website (or better still, pay a visit and experiencing everything first hand).  It’s on from 23rd October to 2nd November.

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