Festival Directors Mark Lythgoe and Kathy Sykes reveal their pick of this year’s top events.
Faith in Evolution Thursday 4 June
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Welcome to Directors’ Picks, featuring our pick of the top events from The Times Cheltenham Science Festival. But of course, that’s just our point of view: you might see things differently. Perception and how we see the world around us is a theme that comes up time and again this year, from seeing the same patterns in nature (Shaping Nature, S29) to a surgeon’s view of risk (Playing God: Risk in Surgery, S14); from how we look at others (Facing Disfigurement, S53) to how Darwin’s theories influence our view of the world (Faith in Evolution, S30). And of course, there’s always the question of how we share our vision with others, communicated superbly in the NESTA FameLab finals over the weekend. The new Membership Scheme means there’s a chance to see more than ever this year with savings on up to ten events when you join. But before you do, take a look at some of our most anticipated events, and see if you agree with us. See you at the festival, Mark and Kathy Festival Directors, The Times Cheltenham Science Festival Professor Kathy Sykes and Dr Mark Lythgoe are passionate about science and love to share their enthusiasm for it, hold posts at the University of Bristol and UCL respectively and make regular appearances on TV and radio. Both are long-time Festival Directors and NESTA FameLab judges and are delighted to put together the programme for what’s sure to be a fascinating and exciting The Times Cheltenham Science Festival 2009.
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S78, Sunday 7 June, 6.15 – 7.15pm, £7 Hair affects us all from the moment, the very moment, we wake up in the morning: we shave it, cut it, pluck it, dye it, laser-zap it, plait it, spin it, weave it, knit it and wig it! Every aspect of our hair is culturally loaded and is closely associated with different gender, societal and religious groups. But the urge to control is different from being able to do so and to control hair is a sign of technological sophistication, a sign of power. We’ve all got it in some form or another, and I can’t wait to explore our obsession with it.
MARK’S PICK FOR: BEARDIES, BALDIES – ANYONE WITH HAIR!
Pain, S61, Saturday 6 June, 8 – 9pm, £5 OC, S51, Saturday 6 June, 12 – 1pm £6 Alzheimer’s, S10, Wednesday 3 June, 6.30 – 7.30pm, £7 My very favourite events are the ones where we tackle issues that are very personal for people. Some have been so moving that I’ve wept on stage, and have seen people stay on for a long time afterwards to talk to and often help each other. This year, we have three such events where we’ll be bringing together an individual who’s directly affected by the condition with leading scientists and medics to create a place where people can learn about the latest research and share their experiences. All three are sure to be amazing discussions: fascinating, uplifting and highly personal.
KATHY’S PICK FOR: ANYONE WHO HAS EXPERIENCED THESE CONDITIONS, AND EVERYONE WHO’S INTERESTED IN WHAT IT IS TO BE HUMAN.
Facing Disfigurement S53, Saturday 6 June, 2 – 3pm, £6 This event features Guest Director Carol Vorderman and her brother who was born with a cleft lip and palate. Just preparing this event has already made me question my view of the world. We are obsessed with our looks and trying to be perfect. TV programmes fill us with false hopes: find beauty and you’ll find happiness. How far would you go to find happiness? Or should our society be more all-embracing? This event will change the way you look at the world and the people around you.
MARK’S PICK FOR: EVERYONE INTERESTED IN THE WAY WE LOOK AT PEOPLE AND THE WAY WE LOOK AT OURSELVES.
Blue Peter 1 SF12, Sunday 7 June, 12 – 1pm, £6 This amazing event combines iconic children’s TV, cuttingedge space technology and one of our brilliant ‘FameLabbers’, Maggie Aderin. Maggie’s just fantastic at sharing her passion for space travel and she’s doing this on a massive scale by teaming up with Blue Peter to send a satellite, ‘Blue Peter 1’ into space. Of course, it’s Maggie’s job as a space engineer to work on such projects, but I think it’s amazing of her to do this with Blue Peter and inspire a whole generation. We’re really lucky to have her back at Cheltenham with Blue Peter presenter Andy Akinwolere for what’s sure to be a hotly anticipated event with all Blue Peter viewers, young and old.
KATHY’S PICK FOR: FAMILIES AND FANS OF SPACE EXPLORATION.
S30, Thursday 4 June, 8.45 – 9.45pm, £8
RK Y’S ! MA ATHPICK & KTOP
Faith in Evolution
Darwin seems to be everywhere this year, and rightly so. But 200 years after he was born, his evolutionary theory still causes controversy. Both of us are really looking forward to this event because it’s going to take a different approach to the one we hear all too often with science and faith on diametrically opposing sides, dismissing each other’s views. Instead, we’ll be hearing from an amazing mix of scientists with different beliefs: Usama Hasan, a computer scientist and part-time Iman, Reverend Michael Reiss, a professor of science education and Christian, honorary festival advisor Robert Winston, who’s Jewish, and Raymond Tallis, who’s an atheist and a doctor. They will discuss how they reconcile their faiths with their scientific understanding of evolution. With such strong thinkers sharing the stage, we’re sure that the views expressed on the night will shed new light on evolution and faith and encourage us all to look at our faith and beliefs anew.
KATHY AND MARK’S PICK FOR: BELIEVERS AND NON BELIEVERS ALIKE.
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