From the rise of appealing TV personalities like Brian Cox to the quirky Festival of the Spoken Nerd, embracing your inner geek has never been cooler. Enter Pint of Science, a series of short talks over a three day period across London, Oxford and Cambridge.
Billed as a “new and jolly science festival”, the events were predominantly aimed at the non-scientific community, with the goal of informing the scientifically curious about the latest trends in the sexy fields of ‘Brains’, ‘Biotechnology’ and ‘Body’.
The London talks were dispersed across several cosy pub venues, which enabled attendees to indulge in a beverage or two during the course of the evening and created an informal air to proceedings.
I went to the event Building New Body Parts at The Horseshoe Inn and as with many of the events, it was sold out. It was encouraging to see a real mixture of people in the audience; young and old, male and female, students and professionals. It seems that anyone and everyone can be a secret science enthusiast.
For this particular Biotech session, hosted by Kings College, the speakers were Dr Eileen Gentleman and Dr Agi Grigoriadis and they introduced us to the subject. Their talks were comprehensive and informative, and the relaxed atmosphere encouraged comments and questions as the talk progressed. Both speakers clearly had a passion for the subject and had really thought about how to connect with a wider audience. The presentations were replete with memorable visuals and anecdotes, but managed to avoid tipping beyond accessible into patronising.
Eileen took centre stage at the start to fill us in on the current state of the field and dispelled some of the popular myths recently featured in the tabloids. In fact, her comment on the media was one of the most important take-home messages of the evening. Too often the press jump on a science story and twist it beyond all recognition, such as the popularisation of the MMR/autism research that led to the recent measles outbreak. It seems vital to have more forums where scientists can act as ambassadors to both raise public support for exciting innovations and explain to all of us why that photo of a mouse with an ear growing on its back is really ‘bad science’.
I wish the Pint of Science organisers success because it’s fun – complete with quizzes (prizes were won!), gimmicky T-shirts, customised beer mats and endearingly enthusiastic volunteers. I don’t doubt that Pint of Science will only get bigger and more popular in the future – watch out for them at your nearest watering hole.
Building New Body Parts took place at The Horseshoe Inn on 16 May 2013.
The Pint of Science festival ran from 14-16 May 2013.