‘Supergiants’ launch giant festival of science

‘Supergiants’ launch giant festival of science

Thousands of visitors will descend on Aberdeen to see leading scientists, hear about the latest in research and take part in workshops and activities as the city welcomes the British Science Festival.

Starting on Tuesday (September 4) and running until Sunday (September 9) the Festival will see big names such as the physicist Professor Brian Cox, author Bill Bryson and super sceptic Professor Richard Wiseman take to the stage.

It is almost 50 years since the Festival last came to Aberdeen and it is expected to draw 40,000 visitors with more than 250 events taking place at venues across Aberdeen city and shire.

In addition to the talks, debates and workshops, there will be a full programme of family events and exhibitions.

Among the highlights will be an opportunity for north-east residents to be the first to see ‘supergiant’ amphipods discovered by researchers from the University of Aberdeen’s Oceanlab in waters off New Zealand in November 2011.

The ‘supergiants’ are more than 10 times the size of normal amphipods and were found at a depth of 7,000m in the Kermadec Trench. The Oceanlab team specialise in photographing life at depths never captured before.

The discovery of the ‘supergiants’ attracted worldwide attention but the British Science Festival will be the first time they have been on public display.  They will be among exhibits at the University of Aberdeen’s Zoology Museum for the duration of the Festival and will be one of the centrepieces at a preview event on Monday (September 3).

Dr Alan Jamieson, who led the voyage on which the ‘supergiants’ were discovered will be on hand to explain how the team captured the creatures using specially built ultra-deep submergence technology designed by Oceanlab.

Monday’s launch will also see children from the University’s Rocking Horse Nursery enjoy a taste of events for a younger audience when they try their hands at making colourful neurons.

To make history during its time in the north-east, the British Science Festival will attempt to break a world record. On Saturday (September 8) and Sunday (September 9) from 1pm to 2pm Bubblestrings will attempt to create the world’s largest bubble at the Aberdeen Arts centre.

On Monday children in the Spiegeltent, erected on the lawn at the University of Aberdeen’s King’s Campus in preparation for the Festival, will get in some practice creating their own giant bubbles ahead of the record attempt.

The Spiegeltent is one of many venues across Aberdeen city and shire which will play host to events as part of the British Science Festival, which has an illustrious history spanning 178 years, and has developed into the largest public access celebration of science in the country.

It is organised in 2012 by the British Science Association, the University of Aberdeen and TechFest Set-Point. The principal sponsors are BP and Shell U.K. Limited.

The latest cutting-edge research in science will be announced during the British Science Festival and debates, discussions and workshops will bring the public face to face with many of the scientists behind it.

The Festival caters for all ages and interests and in recognition of the city’s role as the oil capital of Europe there are a series of sessions dedicated to the energy industry.

On Saturday (September 8) and Sunday (September 9) there will be a full family programme of fun-filled events at venues around the city including dozens at Aberdeen beach Ballroom and Aberdeen Arts Centre.

Sir Roland Jackson, Chief Executive of the British Science Association, said: “The British Science Association is delighted to bring the 2012 festival to Aberdeen. We are sure the Festival will be a great success as Aberdeen was selected as the 2012 host thanks to the excellent partnerships already in evidence between the region’s universities, further education colleges and specialist research institutes, and the strong links with the local authorities, the economic sector, and with the unique mix of urban and rural communities.

“The Aberdeen branch of the Association has played an active role in public engagement with science over the years and the region has an excellent track record of delivering events such as Techfest and the popular series of Café Scientifiques. An exciting week of events to suit all tastes and interests in now in store.”

Professor Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said: “The University is delighted to bring the British Science Festival back to north-east Scotland in conjunction with the British Science Association and TechFest Set-Point.

“We have enjoyed wonderful support from our sponsors and supporters and the Festival promises to be a fantastic event for Aberdeen and the surrounding areas, which will inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologists.”

Tim Smith, Vice President, Communications & External Affairs, BP North Sea, said: “The British Science Festival offers an unrivalled opportunity to showcase some of the scientific talent and ingenuity that we have both in Aberdeen and throughout Scotland. I am delighted that BP are supporting the return of this major festival to Aberdeen, after an absence of nearly 50 years, putting Scotland once again at the heart of scientific activity and debate

Glen Cayley, Vice President – Technical, Shell UK, said: “Aberdeen is a centre of science excellence, so we are really proud to have helped bring this amazing event to the city.  Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) are vital to so many industries around the world.  We hope that we can inspire young people to follow STEM subject and careers when they visit the Shell exhibition at Satrosphere, or hear our talks, to learn about our innovative approach to meeting the world’s growing energy needs.”

Sarah Chew,TechFest SetPoint Managing Director, said: “TechFest-SetPoint is delighted to be partnering with the British Science Association and University of Aberdeen to deliver the British Science Festival this year.  It is going to be the biggest and best festival Aberdeen has ever seen. 

“We have a wonderful range of activities for all ages across the City and Aberdeenshire. We look forward to welcoming enthusiastic scientists and engineers of all ages to the Beach area on Saturday September 8h and Sunday September 9 from 9.30am with workshops, presentations and show on all day.”