Weird Science

The Edinburgh International Science Festival raises the city's IQ for two weeks of nerd awesomeness

Preview by Alex Cole | 26 Mar 2010
  • Edinburgh Science Festival

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the ‘double-blind study, control group, wait-a-decade-for-test-results” kind of science. Give me proper madcap machines activated by lightening, smoking test tubes and killer robots who just want to be loved.

While the upcoming Edinburgh International Science Festival, running from 3-17 April, won’t have all of that, the programs they already have on tap look set to put geek awesomeness back where it belongs. Now in its 21st year, it’s the rare kind of Festival that can run a Science Single’s Night, a mummy dissection and a robot race in the same program. This year’s theme is Biodiversity, highlighted by a slew of events at Edinburgh Zoo as well as the Bontanic Garderns.

If I’m honest, though, it’s the big stuff that gets my nerd joy going. Sonic Dreams is the big showpiece in St. Andrew Square, featuring a massive sound lab that uses a 360-degree sound system to replicate being in the middle of a foreign city or out in the wild. A joint project with the Glasgow School of Art, the exhibit will pump all the aural power of the new iXDLab sound system, the kind of name that looks awesome all by itself.

There’s also a two-day workshop in video games through the Dare to be Digital, looking behind the scenes of how video games like Grand Theft Auto are made. Attendees will take home a gaming segment they make themselves, which is the kind of craft we all wish we could take home from art class.

Speakers include Richard Dawkins, the cast of Bang Goes the Theory, Brian Cox, and more boffins than is strictly healthy. Prices vary by event and some are ticketed, so get in early to guarantee a place. The Festival takes place from one end of the city to the other, so there’s sure to be a Lego building session or Science of Cocktail demonstration close at hand.

For more information on events, dates and times see