Cheltenham Science Festival is set to take the town by storm this June, offering a packed programme of events for all ages. Discussing the festival, scientist Mark Miodownik talks to SoGlos for an insightful interview.
Taking part in four events, spanning The Science of Gin, Can Materials Science Save Us?, How Do We Solve The Plastics Problem?, and Drones: Ready To Take Off, Mark shares an insight into what audience can expect, as well as discussing what he’s most excited for at the 2018 showcase.
What can people can expect from your event, ‘How Do We Solve The Plastic Problem?’
For people who are interested in plastic, we’re going to have a big debate, considering all of the issues. First of all it’s to check out what people feel about plastic, and what the different solutions are to the problem.
For example, whether we should ban plastic altogether, or whether we should go completely to bio-degradable plastics. What are the different solutions?
It’s a debate, so if people come to the talk they can get involved. We’ll answer any questions they have as well.
The Science Festival is entertaining and you never come away disappointed!
You also currently do a radio show, ‘Plastic Fantastic’. What are your views on the issue?
I’m a materials scientist so we design new plastic. So I guess, it’s all about who owns plastics, who designs them, who uses them. We’ll look at how we use plastics and whose fault it is; is it the market’s fault, people’s fault, the government, the local authority, all those sort of issues.
You’re also involved in ‘The Science of Gin’, which sounds very different!
People like gin! The talk is about how you make gin, the science behind it. People are very into different gins, but we look at if they’re really different from each other. Or is it all in their heads?
We look at if the small, bespoke craft gin makers are really that different from the big ones.
Is it an interactive event?
It’s interactive; there’ll be taste tests!
Knowing the science behind gin, do you think they’re that different?
They are different – the question is, what ‘better’ means, I suppose. Whether they’re worth the money. When people ask you if you want a different gin when ordering a G&T, can you really taste the difference?
What affected the taste more, the tonic or the gin?
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s festival?
Mostly the festival vibe. I think that’s the best thing about it. You can go to different events, learn different things. It’s entertaining and you never come away disappointed!
If people haven’t been to the kids’ shows, they’re missing out.
Do you think the festival keeps up to date with current societal issues?
Yes. There’s no point talking about science if you don’t look at its societal impact. Basically, science is one of the most important parts of culture. It’s as important as music, art and literature.
It’s all about people, relationships with the world. Science probably changes people’s lives more than anything else. So it’s really important for people to consider that aspect of it.
What are you most excited to see at this year’s festival?
I’ve got small kids so I’m going to lots of kids’ shows. If people haven’t been to the kids’ shows, they’re missing out.
We’re going to The Science of Sweets, which they’ll love. And Maddie Moate – you can’t argue with Maddie!
Are the kids excited?
Yes they’re really excited, they love it.