Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh science festival features Scottish inventions

Science Festival launch

The Edinburgh International Science Festival (EISF) has launched its programme, promising to put science at the heart of global issues.

The festival is promising to maintain its balance between hands-on fun and more serious explorations of what science means to all of us.

For two weeks from 1 April, its 270 events will be spread across almost 30 venues, including the now-traditional five floors of noisy and occasionally gooey fun in the City Arts Centre.

Edinburgh was the world's first science festival and is still the biggest in Europe.

Among its new exhibitions is Play On, billed as an interactive, family-friendly exhibition which lets audiences get hands-on with the ways technology influences our leisure time.

It will take place across four immersive zones in the Grand Gallery of the National Museum of Scotland, looking at visual tools from cave paintings to 3D printing, changes in games technology since the 1970s, how we have listened to and stored music down the ages, and the rise of digital toys.

Another attraction, Moments in Time, will be a free, interactive exhibition.

It will be housed in four blue police boxes on the Mound which - whisper this in case the BBC's lawyers are listening - will be bigger on the inside than they appear on the outside.

Each box will have a different theme: the Scottish Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the information age and 101 Scottish inventions.

On the list of the latter, John Logie Baird's television, Alexander Graham Bell's telephone, plus golf, whisky and Irn Bru - the last three occasionally enjoyed together.

Of course other nations may make competing claims for some of these.

The telephone is also claimed by Canada and the United States but Bell was born and educated here.

The Netherlands may have come up with the idea of chasing a wee ball with a stick - although others point to the Chinese or the ancient Romans - but it was the Scots who wrote the rules of the modern game.

Irn Bru (other spellings of startlingly bright orange soft drink are available) is definitely, uniquely Scottish.

Moments in Time is part of Scotland's Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017, so historians have a whole year to argue over the rest.

Also on the list of Scotland's 101 greatest hits: Sherlock Holmes and Treasure Island, underlining that this year's EISF is offering its biggest ever arts programme.

It will include a season of theatre, exhibitions, installations and concerts examining how we conduct, use and communicate science.

And as always this experimentation, artistry and interactivity will be backed up by a slate of lectures and discussions on topics from the impact of Brexit on British science to the pursuit of scientific truth in this allegedly post-truth world.

It is a festival unabashedly pitched at every age group.

This year the organisers are especially keen to capture the hearts and minds of teenagers who may decide to choose science as a career.

The programme launch took place on the southern shore of the Forth in front of the three great bridges which now span the firth.

One of the police boxes was given its first outing for the benefit of press photographers.

The snappers, enthused by the presence of this and an array of other props, spent more than an hour inviting two members of the EISF to adopt ever-more bizarre poses for the cameras - involving a bicycle, golf clubs and the aforementioned orange skoosh.

This culminated when one of the half-frozen young women had to pretend to make a phone call while wearing a brightly coloured, papier mache bird's head.

The reason? That the cover of this year's festival programme includes some of our feathered chums.

At least I'm pretty sure that was the reason.

Surely not even we Scots can claim to have invented birds.

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