bluedot 2016: The Sounds of Science

Science and music collide at Jodrell Bank Observatory this summer, as bluedot brings the goods to Cheshire

Feature by Music Team | 15 Jul 2016
  • Jodrell Bank

'Stop and look around, it's all astounding
Water, fire, air and dirt
Fucking magnets, how do they work?'

As the Insane Clown Posse so memorably pondered, science truly is a marvel. An ever-unfolding series of mysteries, it teaches us more about our place in the universe. It deepens our understanding of how we came to exist. It enables us to fall over things while we stare at our phones in search of Pokémon. Yes indeed: DAT SCIENCE DOE.

As you'd expect from a festival in the grounds of an observatory, bluedot places science pretty high on its agenda. In the spirit of such tech-centric boffinery, we've scratched our heads and rustled up some of our favourite science-related facts for your perusal – and asked some of our favourite musicians for some facts of their own...

I got chills, they're multiplyin'

"The chills and shivers you get when listening to a song you really like are caused by the release of dopamine in your body. Music can quite literally alter the chemical balances in your brain…especially if you're into going out raving!"
- Steve Mason, playing the Orbit stage, Sun 24 Jul

  • In space, no-one can hear you belch

  • The lack of gravity in space has other effects beyond allowing you to float around and do somersalts without fear of serious inury – with nothing to separate liquids from gas in their stomachs, astronauts simply cannot burp. Good news for space-bound fans of drinking fizzy pop very quickly, then.

Spot the difference

"I’ve always been fascinated by Jupiter and especially its giant red spot – it’s a storm that’s been raging for at least the last 150 years and possibly much longer. It’s also twice as wide as the Earth. I can’t wait to see what [Nasa spacecraft] Juno sends back now that it’s successfully in orbit."
- J. Willgoose, Esq., Public Service Broadcasting, playing The Lovell Stage, Sun 24 Jul

Duck tales

Duck-billed platypuses don't use sight, smell or hearing to hunt. Instead they use the tiny electric fields emitted by prey to sense their location and size, turning every meal into a remake of that scene in Batman Begins where Bruce Wayne tracks down bad guys using electromagnetic pulses. Except with more platypuses.

Duck tales, part 2

While we’re on the subject, platypuses don’t have stomachs. BONUS SCIENCE.

Power up

"Solar panels work more effectively when music is played at them, and certain kinds of music perform better than others."
- Jeremy Pritchard, Everything Everything, playing The Lovell Stage, Sun 24 Jul

Music is my medicine

It may not see plausible, but music really can help to improve your health, from yer common or garden cold to more serious conditions like heart disease. Don't believe us? It's true: studies have shown that softer forms of music – jazz in particular, although we presume this to mean Duke Ellington rather than Ornette Coleman – can reduce levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol. That's good for your blood pressure and your mental well-being. (NB we've not tested this theory out when listening to Agoraphobic Nosebleed.)

And lastly... how the fuck do magnets work?

bluedot 2016, Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire, 22-24 Jul