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Series 5: Prog 01: 29/03/09

This week Adam Walton takes the Science Cafe to the Wrexham Science Festival. While he's there he has an illuminating discussion about the science of streetlights and separates the fact from the fiction about the red planet. He also discovers what makes every human voice unique and - using a fishtank and some milk - discovers why the setting sun is red .

The Wrexham Science Festival runs from Thursday 26th March to Saturday 4th April at Glyndwr University. Now in its eleventh year, it's a kaleidoscope of talks, films, demonstrations and exhibitions covering every aspect of science from black holes to blood. In this week's programme Adam Walton gets an overview from Helen James, Chair of the Festival, and then sets off to meet a few of the speakers.

Illuminating Science...

Streetlights are one of those scientific achievements we take for granted and we only notice them when they're not working. Matthew Eagles, on the other hand, has been fascinated by streetlights since he was a boy and has a collection of his own. In his Festival presentation he explains the science behind the different colours of streetlights.

Singing Science...

The human voice is an amazing thing. Working together, the larynx, throat, mouth and lips can produce a huge range of sounds and a trained singer's voice can fill a concert hall. Science Cafe reporter Paul Morris meets Dr. Alan Watson of Cardiff University to look ahead to his presentation which covers the full range of the human voice - from the throat singers of Mongolia to the last castrato, Alessandro Moreschi.

Martian Science (and Science Fiction)...

This year is the International Year of Astronomy and the Festival is marking this with a series of talks on space and space exploration. One of the speakers is Andrew Lound who's known as "The Urban Spaceman" in his regular astronomy slot on BBC Radio WM in the Midlands. His subject at the Festival is one of the clearest and closest objects in our night skies, the planet Mars. The idea of life on Mars has been a staple of science fiction and it may yet become fact as landers search for water on the Red Planet.

...and Scientriffic

The sun sets on this week's Science Cafe with a demonstration of, well, a sunset. Adam visits Techniquest at Glyndwr for a chat with Dr. Diane Gray about Scientriffic, an open day which is the climax of the Wrexham Science Festival on Saturday 4th April. It's a day of family fun where visitors have the opportunity to design a jet engine, have a close encounter with a scorpion, solve a case using forensic science and meet a robot polar bear.

While Adam was at Techniquest, Diane set up a neat scientific demonstration of why the setting sun looks red - using a fishtank and a few spoonfuls of milk.

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