Hot topics under the microscope at the May Festival

Hot topics under the microscope at the May Festival

How can soil solve a murder? How did tartan feature in the first ever colour photograph? Does the 5:2 diet work?

These are some of the questions that will be explored at the University of Aberdeen’s May Festival in 2015.

The Festival’s Science theme brings cutting-edge science out of the lab and into the real-world in a host of fascinating events, discussions and activities that the whole family can enjoy.

The science behind what we eat is explained in The Diet Myth on Saturday May 30, where Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College, London, will apply his pioneering research into genetics and diet to dispel many of the myths surrounding fad diets.

As part of the International Year of Light, Saturday May 30 will see Dr Ben Marsden from the University of Aberdeen’s school of Divinity, History and Philosophy, explore the work of James Clerk Maxwell.  Maxwell spent several years as Professor of Physics at The University of Aberdeen and later went on to propose the electromagnetic theory of light and demonstrated colour photography for the first time.

In addition to this, as part of the Mayhem programme which sees a host of events outside the main programme, Dr John Reid, Honorary Senior Lecturer from The School of Natural and Computing Sciences at the University of Aberdeen will illuminate the role that Aberdeen has had in shaping our understanding of light. One of the Café Scientifique series, this talk is free to the public and will be held at Waterstones on May 27 at 7pm.  

Sunday May 31 sees a nod to the Year of Soils in Dirt, Death and DNA, where Professor Lorna Dawson, Head of Soil Forensics at the James Hutton Institute describes how soil has helped solve crimes including the recent World’s End murder case.  

The soil theme continues with Soil, Soul and Society, where Dr Bruce Ball, Senior Researcher at Scotland’s Rural College will share his insights into how a deeper understanding of the role of soil in society can lead to greater fulfilment, enrichment and sustainability.

Also on Sunday, drug resistant bacteria will be under the microscope in Bad Bugs Fight Drugs where expert scientists from across Scotland will lead a discussion on the deadly bugs that can hide in a hospital environment. 

Throughout the weekend, drop-in events invite visitors to meet University of Aberdeen scientists to learn first-hand about the cutting-edge research going on here in Aberdeen. 

Along with a packed children’s programme which includes an explosive look at forces in Ultimate Force on Saturday May 30 and building your own K’Nex car in Hall of Mayhem on Sunday May 31, there is something for everyone.

Laura Young, Festival Coordinator, said: “This year’s May Festival will be the best yet.

“We are delighted to be celebrating both the International Year of Soils and the International Year of Light with an inspirational and diverse line-up at the May Festival. 

“We are excited to welcome members of the public along to the festival and our campus to explore how ongoing innovative research in science is shaping our everyday lives.”

The University of Aberdeen May Festival runs from Friday, May 29 to Sunday, May 31. Tickets for all events can be booked by visiting or through the Aberdeen Box Office on 01224 641122.