New Look to Science Festival

The Orkney International Science Festival (1st to 7th of September 2022) will have a new look when it returns. Events in venues in Kirkwall, Stromness and elsewhere will be joined by a range of varied activities outdoors. The Festival will also continue its online presence that has enabled many additional people to access it over the past two years.

To the indoor events will be added a mix of walks and talks and workshops outdoors.

Themes will include:

  • energy and archaeology
  • wildlife
  • marine science

Individual events will range from papermaking by the sea to investigating astronomy at the Ring of Brodgar.

The Festival will also continue an online presence, helping accessibility and also bringing in various speakers from a distance, from the US and elsewhere. A number of events will be livestreamed, with questions and discussion open to everyone, wherever they may be.

The Festival hopes that opportunities will develop for online events to be watched socially, with some local hotel and cafés providing viewing space in areas where drinks and snacks are available.

The various indoor events are being spaced out through the day, in several different venues, with a varied mix of speakers and topics. The Year of Stories 2022 is providing a rich source of ideas, according to Festival Director Howie Firth.

He said:

“One of the greatest stories of the sea is the voyage made by the explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton in a small boat to seek rescue for his crew, trapped on Elephant Island when their ship Endurance was caught in sea ice. He and several of the crew went 800 miles in a small boat through terrible seas, and then had to climb the mountains of South Georgia. We will hear the story of the journey, and also the story of the Orkney connections of the captain of the Endurance, Frank Worsley, and his links to Stromness and Eday.

“We are going to look afresh at the old stories of sea monsters and new insights that may arise, and at stories along the street of Stromness and links to the science of earth and sea.

“We will hear too the story of two lives linked to astronomy, through two concerts in St Magnus Cathedral. One tells of the astronomer Sir William Herschel who was also a musician and composer, and it will feature some of the music he wrote. The other concert marks the birth of the poet John Donne, whose story is interwoven with the great 17th-century revolution in astronomy that led to the birth of modern science.

“We will be looking to the future as well, hearing stories of tomorrow as a new field called transition engineering seeks to find paths to the future. We’ll also get a new perspective of the future from a science-fiction author and see a new film on the theme of transformation.”

The full Festival programme, with details of speakers and events, is expected to be announced towards the end of June, with updates on progress posted up on its website

In the meantime a series of six weekly online talks is under way on Monday evenings at 7.30 pm, titled ‘Embers into Sparx’, featuring ideas and inspiration on themes from regenerating landscape to reviving railways. These can be accessed on the OISF YouTube channel

Sir Ernest Shackleton in a small boat to seek rescue for his crew. Just one of many stories to be covered in the 2022 Orkney International Science Festival Image credit: prob Frank Hurley, the expedition’s photographer

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