If Oxford: so what’s it all about?

8 October 2018

First published in Round&About September 2018

You are invited to take part in a funky new festival this month, IF Oxford, which – following on from 25 years of the Oxfordshire Science Festival – is taking over Oxford for eleven days of intriguing events and activities from 12-22 October. There are than 120 events and activities at 20 venues including Oxford Town Hall, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, a steampunk distillery and some good pubs too, and the majority of events are free to enter. (Donations will be requested using a Pay What You Decide model!)

The events are geared up for inquisitive minds of all ages and take a broad approach to science and society, with both cutting edge thinking from world-leading brains and a refreshing new approach to humanity and the world at large. You can investigate the world around you through discussions, comedy, art, theatre and with the spectacular contemporary dance show Eight Minutes (which lasts an hour) at Oxford Playhouse, an invigorating take on solar physics.

From the microscopic to the mind, robots and rockets are just a few of the incredible and fascinating topics that all ages can explore. Or find answers to hundreds of questions including What does a cloud taste like? Why is chocolate tasty?  And What’s the best way to take perfect penalty kick?

Head to Oxford’s Town Hall Explorazone to have go at key-hole surgery or use a phone to explore the human body; see invisible particles and imagine a city of the future. Enjoy exploring the body (and other things) through virtual reality, and visit The Blood Factory at Oxford Academy – we all have litres of the red stuff sloshing around inside us, but how it is made and why is it important?

Learn the science of distilling from grain to glass: suddenly archeo-botany is the latest must-have knowledge! But beware the fatbergs that lurk in the sewers: how do we conquer these beasts beneath our feet? You can become a forensic super-sleuth, or design and build your very own rocket and defy the laws of gravity.

You can experience interactive sonic sculpture, engage in participatory cartography at Oxford’s African School, or spend an ‘Uncultured’ night at the museum to launch the Oxford University Museum of Natural History’s new exhibition Bacterial World. Did you know bacteria have hidden super-powers? And as diamonds are more than just glittering gemstones, could they save the world?

If you’re a computer geek, or just interested in the role artificial intelligence plays in today’s world, then hear the latest ideas on ‘augmented humanity’ with world-leading mind Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, and have you heard of the ‘big data’ phenomenon which could revolutionise medical research?

And, as Hallowe’en approaches, have you ever thought about the science at your feet in a cemetery – there’s a chance to take a tour of one of these geological treasure troves and who knows what you’ll unearth.

For the full IF Oxford programme, visit www.if-oxford.com