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The Festival of Physics: a journey into the world of science

ByPeiyi Liu

Nov 7, 2018

The Festival of Physics was organised by the Institute of Physics in Scotland from 26 to 28 October at Dynamic Earth, and  is one of the featured events for the UK- wide festival, Museums at Night 2018. This year, the theme of the festival is time, and it provides a culturally diverse range of events aimed at all ages, from excellent science shows, hands-on workshops, inspiring digital experiences, and academic talks to interactive conversations in the domains of music, theatre, art and technology, all of which seek to explore the creative frontiers of science and culture. Surely every visitor will enjoy these free events and most importantly, learn something new from them.

The discoveries of scientific truth always begin with a sort of curiosity, and a powerful wonderment of knowledge. Children definitely have these invaluable qualities in spades and so it was a great phenomenon that the festival was packed to the brim with curious kids who were eager to ask interesting questions to the knowledgeable volunteers.

Without question, one of the most interesting and  eye-opening events was to be the animated dome show Star Maker, which is an adaptation of the classic science fiction novel of the same name by philosopher Olaf Stapledon. This aesthetically excellent dome show narrates a history of life in multiple universes and illuminates a vast range of philosophical themes such as the essence and cycle of life, the relationship between creation and creator in a spiritual reality, as well as the progressive unity within different galactic civilisations.

Even if the visual effects of the dome are likely to blow you away, you need not worry because there are plenty of other shows and workshops to experience, including some rather sweet ones. We all love a sound excuse to eat lots of chocolate on these cold winter days, but have you ever considered chocolate from a physical or even metaphysical perspective? Presented by two experienced physics PhD students from the University of Edinburgh, the Physical Chocolate workshop is a true testament that scientific experimentation really can be delicious! At this workshop, one will not only have the opportunity to put chocolate under the microscope, but also to sample different kinds of chocolate to understand how physics can be used to affect the way it looks, feels and tastes. For instance, one may learn that chocolate is actually a six-phase polymorphic crystal, meaning that the molten chocolate can recrystallise six different ways, and that the perfect crystal structure of chocolate is the form of a V shape, as it only melts in your mouth rather than your hand.                

Finally, if one needs another reason to experience this festival for themselves, consider this: scientifically, it is true that a temporary stop and rest can make your brain run faster later on. It is a stressful time of year for students between midterms, deadlines, and the ever present heaps of coursework. Thus, keep in mind that it is important to take care of yourself during studies and recover your physical and mental energy every now and again, whether you decide to go to The Meadows to appreciate the beauty of nature, visit a museum to pursue the love of wisdom, or check out the festival to learn something new about science. We should all take full advantage of numerous sources of inspiration which this wonderful city always so charitably offers to us.

Image Credit: SteveR via Flickr

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