Hay Festival 2016 - Now With More Science!
"Spending the day at Hay Literary festival and attending talks on Enigma code breaking, Ada Lovelace and Aliens. In your face, literature!" - Dara O'Briain, Hay Festival 2016
Bill Clinton famously called the Hay Festival ‘The Woodstock of the mind’ – the UK literary festival celebrates writing, writers, culture, arts, and - increasingly - science.
This year, science seminars featured in the programme alongside sessions devoted to comedy, music, politics and history, authors discussing their latest books, and children’s events. Many sessions at Hay 2016 were directly supported by the UK’s most prestigious scientific institutions, including The Royal Society, the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK, and Cambridge and Birmingham Universities.
"If the Hay Festival programme is any measure of the shape of our culture, then it says that science is playing an ever-increasing role" - Daniel Davis, Professor of Immunology at Manchester University, Hay Festival 2016
Daniel Davis detailed in The Guardian his personal highlights from Hay Festival's science line-up:
"Covering a different area of science altogether, Richard Fortey, Fellow of the Royal Society and professor at London’s Natural History Museum for more than 40 years, described his recent retirement project. He spoke about the history and natural history of a small wood he had recently bought on the back of proceeds from his TV work. Studying this wood season by season, he now knows that it is home to 150 different types of moth, as well as white plants that lack chlorophyll (they gain everything they need from other organisms, rather than using photosynthesis), and eight different species of bat.
This year, ‘A’ level students could also ask questions directly of experts both live and online. For the biology event, students quizzed Steve Jones, one of the world’s best known experts in evolution and genetics; Hannah Critchlow, a neuroscientist from Cambridge University; and Kat Arney, a geneticist who for many years has worked for Cancer Research UK. Of course, students can get all the facts they need from their teachers, books and the internet, but we were able to add anecdotes not in the textbooks that illuminate ideas in a different way, to discuss cutting edge research, and to give our own personal views on ethical dilemmas or hot topics. The impact of this is hard to measure, but I came away inspired. I trust others did too."
IMAGE: Marsha Arnold