Science in the City festival: what to see

Feature by Jess Hardiman | 14 Jul 2016

Bringing Manchester to life through a programme of 40+ free pop-up events, Science in the City is a week-long festival taking place 22-29 July. 

Marking Manchester’s year as the UK’s first European City of Science, the festival promises everything from informal talks and debates to film screenings, science-based balladry and hi-tech garms, all spilling out across multiple venues from the festival hub at No. 70 Oxford Street. (That's the former Cornerhouse building, btw.) 

Here's what we're looking forward to checking out the most:

Allotment of the Future
22-29 Jul, St Ann's Square, 11am-6pm, free

Algae for lunch, anyone? The Allotment of the Future explores what kind of menus we might be choosing from in years to come – be it crops from used coffee grounds or bugs at the breakfast table – while also considering how we can make the most of our urban space to grow food in the future.

Produced by the European City of Science in partnership with M3 Industries, Real Food Wythenshawe, Sow the City, Squirrel Nation, URBED, the University of Manchester and the University of Salford, this project shines a light on the increasing role of technology in domestic growing, as well as unearthing what's so important about soil... Pun very much intended.

(Photo: Enna Bartlett)

Human Sensor
23-29 Jul, various locations and times, free

A new commission from Invisible Dust, scientist Frank Kelly and digital artist Kasia Molga, Human Sensor makes tangible the effect that poor air quality has on us, and the impact that we and our cars have on air pollution. 

Showcasing unique hi-tech clothing, which responds to the wearer’s breathing and air pollution data by illuminating and changing colour or pattern, performers will reveal the presence of invisible pollutants to audiences during walks around various Manchester locations, culminating with a choreographed performance in Sadler’s Yard, NOMA.

Science Meets Poetry
26 Jul, John Rylands Library, 8pm, free (registration required)

Treading the intersection of science and the creative arts, Science Meets Poetry pairs some of Manchester's brightest young poets with researchers from across the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) programme. Some serious scientific balladry comes from Kieren King, Ciarán Hodgers (pictured), Matt Panesh, Lenni Sanders, Rebecca Audra Smith and Jennie Bailey. 

Science Friction
25-27 Jul, HOME, times and prices vary

HOME presents Science Friction, a mini-season of films that explore science and scientific discoveries. Featuring films from the 1950s right through to the present day, there's everything from Douglas Turnbull's directorial debut Silent Running and 1952 Alec Guinness-starrer The Man in the White Suit to 2015's The Machine of Human Dreams, which was shot over the course of two years to follow artificial intelligence maverick Ben Goertzel as he tried to build the world's first thinking machine in Hong Kong.

29 Jul, Central Library, 11am-5pm (bookable live demos at 12pm and 3.30pm), free

You might have seen the totally ridic HP Lovecraft sci-fi horror flick Re-Animator, but if you haven't, you can get a (somewhat more realistic) sense of how organs can return to life with Reanimate.

This event gives visitors the chance to see a kidney and a heart functioning outside of the body, highlighting advances in medical science that have made it possible for us to receive replacements transplanted from deceased or living donors. Simply drop in and find out more from Dr James Fildes and his team from the Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research.

European Science Slam
25 Jul, Manchester Town Hall, 7pm, free (registration required)

Y'heard, chump: it's time for a Science Slam. A bunch of young scientists will battle it out to explain their science in the most entertaining way, addressing life's big questions such as: Does eye candy makes you physically hungry? Can physics put a better battery in that iPhone of yours? And what does the symphony of the universe sound like?

The Next Big Thing
26 Jul, No. 70 Oxford St, 7.30pm, free (registration required)

An all-women panel will profile some of the UK's visionary research currently being undertaken, with Royal Society Research fellows Lucy Weinert, Katherine Joy and Nike Folayan discussing their work at the forefront of science.

The Science of Cocktails (Part of Science Lates: Women in Science)
26 Jul, Science and Industry at Cane and Grain, 7pm, £10

Where better to pair booze with scientific flair than at Science and Industry, Cane and Grain’s first floor bar (and regular Skinny haunt, if you’re asking)? Exploring The Science of Cocktails, this evening will include a demonstration of mixology by a cocktail maestro and an expert chemist from Manchester Metropolitan University. Tickets include two cocktails and finger food, and there's the chance to network with prominent female scientists.

Open Labs
26 Jul, Sackville Street Building, 2-8pm, free; 27 Jul, Manchester Musuem, 10am-4pm, free

Go behind the scenes of Mancunian science with Open Labs, in which the University of Manchester throws open its doors to the public. Go and see first-hand the genomes, genetics, cancer treatments, flying robots, 3D printing and wonder materials in the University's labs, and find out more about Manchester's next big breakthroughs.

City of Science Tour
24 Jul (4pm), 26 and 28 Jul (6pm), starts outside Manchester Central, £10 (£15 with a copy of A New Manchester Alphabet)

Immerse yourself in 200+ years of Mancunian scientific achievement on foot, as Blue Badge guide Jonathan Schofield (pictured) leads a City of Science Tour exploring pioneering science and innovative social thought. Referencing A New Manchester Alphabet, an illustrated poetry book by students at MMU inspired by 1906's A Manchester Alphabet by architect Roger Oldham, the tour will conclude in one of Manchester's many historic pubs, if that helps. 

Sensory Soundpit
23-29 Jul, 

No. 70 Oxford Street
, free

Throughout Science in the City festival, No. 70 Oxford Street will host the Sensory Soundpit, an audio-visual experience created by European City of Science artist in residence Di Mainstone. The ambitious project will utilise an immersive environment where sound is represented by shape, touch, motion and image, and here you’ll be given the unique chance to test and shape Mainstone’s work before its official launch in October at Manchester Science Festival.

Science in the City takes place at various venues across Manchester from Fri 22-Fri 29 Jul.