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Take a Journey of Discovery with Orkney International Science Festival

The programme for the 2023 Orkney International Science Festival (OISF) has been announced. It includes a wide variety of speakers both local and international. Subjects range from Ice Age mammoths to the latest research in robotics – with some robot visitors as well.

A wizard from Kansas with a science show featuring four western music legends, and a singing cowboy with a PhD in plasma physics. An ancient Greek computer rescued from a shipwreck. The story of the Orkney man who helped link the Northern Lights to solar storms, and spectacular images of the aurora from an Arctic quest. Plus the story of a solo journey to the South Pole.

David Attenborough and on either side of him Neville and Sally Hollingworth and in front of them a huge mound of mammoth fossil bones

Neville and Sally Hollingworth, discoverers of a 215,000-year-old mammoth site, will tell the story and run workshops during the Family Day.

What else is featured in OISF 2023 ?

  • A replica of a 2,000-year old computer with mechanical gears to predict the movements of sun, moon and planets.
  • Orkney-born Ben Weber will tell the story of his solo journey to the South Pole, amidst minus 40C wind chill
  • Dr Melanie Windridge will describe her Arctic quest to see the Northern Lights in their fullest power.
  • Woody Paul, a western music legend – Riders in the Sky and a presentation Dr Steven ‘Jake’ Jacobs, followed by a full concert.
  • Scottish composer Eddie McGuire’s five astronomy-inspired pieces, among them Big Bang and Symphonies of Galaxies, films specially made by the Festival, with recordings by St Andrews University musicians.
  • The Pier Arts Centre will bring link art and mathematics in an exhibition and a day of events,
  • The centenary of the birth of Prof. Tom Flett, whose life and work combined mathematics and dance.
  • Prof. Jim Flett Wilson of Edinburgh University will bring together genetics and family history to seek the origins of the Flett family.
  • Prof. Karen Scott of Aberdeen University’s Rowett Institute, and also from Orkney, will look at the nutritional value of oats and bere.
  • Prof. Tom Stevenson will join local historian Patricia Long to highlight the life of the physicist Balfour Stewart, of Westray and West Mainland descent.
  • Orkney’s energy past and future, soil improvement and using microalgae waste for food and pharmaceutical production.
  • Orkney College will host a Tattie Tasting, and the Festival programme will also include the story of Robert Burns’s experience of the aftermath of an Icelandic eruption.

Information about these and many more events is now on view on the Science Festival’s website www.oisf.org.

Dr Melanie Windridge is a plasma physicist who has climbed Mount Everest and the Old Man of Hoy, she says she believes that science and exploration go hand in hand. She will also speak on the latest progress towards long-sought energy generation from nuclear fusion. She will describe her Arctic quest to see the Northern Lights in their fullest power at OISF.

Dr Melanie Windridge in front of a lot of physics engineering stuff

Some further details will be added over the next two weeks before an announcement is made for tickets to go on sale towards the end of the month.

Also to be announced soon is another key part of the Festival plans for this year, indeed its centrepiece – an installation of the Sun in St Magnus Cathedral. The installation, created in a collaboration between a solar physicist and an artist, used time-lapse NASA spacecraft photography to bring out the seething imagery of the solar surface and the sheer awe and power of a close-up view.

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