A week at the British Science Festival

Scientist on Assignment

Department of Physics Blogs
Published: September

The reason why I didn’t post last week was because I was covering the British Science Festival for the Financial Times.

It was great. I did all the normal things that I’m used to at a festival, like attend talks and go out in the evening (we BSA Media Fellows won second place at the BSF pub trivial night — that’s right second place). I also got to see Festival of the Spoken Nerd for the first time (amazing) and see two excellent science writers, Alice Roberts and Armand Leroi give talks on their new books.I also personally got to meet two science communicators who I’ve looked up to for many years now: Robyn Williams and Jim Al-khalili. This was all very amazing for me.

On top of all this, I also got to attend press conferences/releases in the morning and write them up in the afternoon.

So it was exhausting but I suppose that I should just be thankful that I didn’t also speak (as, for instance, Vicky Forster did as a panellist on the Cancer Survivalship).

We did get to cover many interesting stories:
The Stonehenge discoveries were probably the highlight and I feel lucky to have been in the group of 20 or so of us from the media to whom this work was first introduced. Media coverage has since spread globally and I’ll never look at Stonehenge the same.
The possibility of using mobile phones to one day diagnose Parkinson’s disease is surprisingly close. Since covering this (and attending a talk by Aral Balkan, who is involved (maybe owns; I’m not clear on this) ind.ie), I’ve been far more concerned with the possibility and reality of invasive data collection about me by corporations, such as Google and medical companies.

Beyond that I covered a few topics that weren’t published immediately but will make it to the magazine this weekend. I’m a touch sorry that they were produced on a timescale that they could have been breaking news but are being released more slowly. This morning while on my way into London, I was listening to the BBC podcast and the Nature podcast and they each reported on one of these stories. Once my versions are out, I’ll post links to them here.

In up coming blog posts look forward to:

  • Burying science stories
  • Rosetta coverage
  • a round-up of FT Magazine articles
  • and a meeting with Dame Ann Dawling.