FameLabbers at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival - 2011 (June 7-12)

INTERNATIONAL FAMELAB FINAL 2011, Saturday June 11

Doing more for international relations than any UN conference, this year’s FameLab competition took place in 17 countries across Europe, Asia and Africa. Hot-footing it to Cheltenham, the winners fight it out in the 2011 final of finals hosted, by the 2009 Audience Vote winner Matt Parker.

 

THE MATRIX: REALITY OR FICTION?, Tuesday 7 June

In the 1999 blockbuster, the hero (Keanu Reeves) has a cable plugged straight into his brain so that his thoughts and sensations are directly connected to an evil supercomputer known as ‘The Matrix’. Of course we all know that this is just a movie. Brain-machine interfaces are fiction, not science, right? Wrong! In fact, there are already hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who have wires directly connected to their nervous system. Neuroscientist and 2007 FameLabber Jan Schnupp explores what can and cannot be done with this fledgling technology.

 

TOMORROW's WORLD NEVER COMES, Thursday 9 June

From canned sandwiches to personalised jet packs, history is littered with examples of failed inventions. So what does it take for an invention to become part of daily life and why is it that all too often the next big thing doesn't make the light of day? Former Tomorrow's World presenter Vivienne Parry and patent examiner Mark Lewney (FameLab 2005), present some big ideas which flopped and Trevor Baylis gives his advice to today's inventors.

 

WAS THE UNIVERSE CREATED, Thursday 9 June

Did the Universe have a creator? Will it be around for ever? Debates around these age-old questions have been raging since Aristotle's time. Medieval physics and modern cosmology collide as Mark Lewney (FameLab 2005) battles Andrew Pontzen (FameLab 2009), exploring the history and future of the Universe and asking whether there was ever a time when nothing existed.

 

YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED, Friday 10 June

A hit at the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe with its irreverent debunking of health scares and jokes about Bayesian probability. If you like graphs, gameshows and good news about your lifespan (it's going up by 12 minutes an hour), you'll like this. You have a 0.000043% chance of dying during this show. But stand up mathematician Matt Parker (FameLab 2009) and comedian Timandra Harkness will make sure you die laughing. "Exponentially Funny" (Three Weeks)

 

MOULD AND ARROWSMITH IN 3D, Saturday 11 June

How many shows at this year's science festival will be in 3D? Well, all of them! But this is the only one that requires special glasses. In a series of comedy sketches Steve Mould (FameLab 2007) and Gemma Arrowsmith move between live action and 3D videos as they explore the use and relevance of the iPad, converse with God via Twitter and present their own version of Avatar and the next Dr Who.

 

OVER-AMBITIOUS DEMO CHALLENGE, Sunday 12 June

The competition is on again in the annual Cheltenham Science Festival Demo Challenge. Steve Mould (2007) hands over the role of host to Andrea Sella and braves the competition floor, joining Matt Parker (2009), Nic Harrigan (2007) and Zoe Laughlin as they all attempt to show the most spectacular, impressive and show-stopping science demo.