All you need to know about Pint of Science 2021

Quench your thirst for knowledge. Pint of Science is bringing scientists to you so they can share their latest discoveries and make you fall in love with the past, present, and future of science. The festival is an annual event designed to provide a space where audiences can engage with research, share their thoughts and ideas, and get answers to all-important questions. The aim is to increase public engagement with science, and cultivate curiosity through promoting more open and transparent conversations between the research community and the wider public. This festival is for scientists and non-scientists alike to come together in a relaxed environment, where the walls into the scientific world are broken down, away from the “mysterious laboratories” and “eerie lecture theatres”. 

Pint of Science Festival 2021 will be taking place between the 17Th and 20th May and broadcast live on YouTube. In previous years the event was hosted in local pubs; in over 400 cities across 24 countries. But hey, if you cannot go to the pub, why not bring the pub to you and have a great night with friends, or family, while learning something new at the same time?

Pint of Science Festival 2018 - The University of Nottingham
Pint of Science festival 2018 in Nottingham. Image: University of Nottingham.

Not quite sure if Pint of Science is for you? Here is a taster from last year’s Food for Thought event hosted by the University of Leeds. Hosts Alexandra Holmes and Maria Nikolova were joined by Dr Christine Bosch (Lecturer in Diet and Health) and Dr Mark Hopkins (Lecturer in Nutritional Physiology), and together they dismantled food myths and presented research into antioxidants, molecular nutrition, and the interactions between diet, activity, and appetite control.

In recent years, antioxidants have had increased coverage in the media and become of growing interest in the food and supplement industry. Dr Christine Bosch’s presentation therefore set out to clearly define the term ‘antioxidant’. At the onset, the audience were asked to submit words which came to mind when describing an antioxidant. Dr Bosch went on to clarify the true meaning of the term, discussed topics such as free radicals and oxidative stress, and most importantly clarified the role of antioxidants in health and disease. Dr Mark Hopkins followed by giving insight into whether it was possible to outrun a bad diet, during which he described the benefits of exercise, aside from weight management. His research demonstrated evidence to suggest that physical activity is not only beneficial for health but also appetite control, and concluded that regular exercise is the key to maintaining weight. The event finished with an audience Q&A session in which the University of Leeds team answered questions such as ‘are vegan diets healthier?’ and ‘is BMI a good metric for health?’. This was clearly successful as 52 members of the audience reported that their opinions on food and nutrition had changed during the show.

Founders of Pint of Science, Dr Praveen Paul and Dr Michael Motskin, talk about why they created Pint of Science on The One Show in 2018. Source: Pint of Science UK.

Do you want to both learn more and have your opinions challenged? This year Pint of Science is all things technology! The University of Leeds will be hosting three key events: Mind, body, tech (17th May 8-9pm), Hear me out (19th May 8-9 pm) and Science with a capital “S” (20th May 8-9pm).

Mind, body, tech

In the 21st century, technology has become increasingly central to our daily lives. This has led to a rise in violent video games, time spent watching television, and has made way for a social media-centric world; all of which have the potential to negatively impact our lives. In this technological era, with every new technology, we have been warned that it will be the demise of humanity. Yes, while some can do more harm than good, many technological developments have revolutionised the way we live, and were created with the intention to enhance our lives and wellbeing.

As part of Mind, body, tech, Dr Jen Edwards (University Academic Fellow in Musculoskeletal Medical Technologies) and Dr Emily Williams (Postdoctoral Research and Engagement Fellow) will discuss some benefits of technology and how, when used correctly, it can prove to be of great medical value. Dr Jen Edwards will be presenting her current work involved in developing new treatments for the foot and ankle, looking to relieve chronic ankle instability and prevent foot ulcers forming in diabetic patients.

Meanwhile, Dr Emily Williams will discuss the what, how, and why of touch typing for children. Dr Williams’ recent work investigates how children and adults acquire the fine motor skill of touch typing, with the ambition of gaining insight into ways of increasing academic attainment in young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Not only is this research valuable for education and academia, but the importance of such skills is growing in this increasingly digital world.

Hear me out!

‘People are as unique as their music tastes’. With this knowledge there has become the need to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach in healthcare to one that is more personalised and aligned to the needs of individuals. The Hear me out event will therefore outline the ways in which technology is being used to advance healthcare and will discuss the role it may play in the future.

Dr Alinka Greasley (Associate Professor in Music Psychology) will give insight into the prevalence of hearing loss in society and will be discussing the development of hearing aid technology, from early hearing instruments through to modern digital hearing aids, with an aim of increasing the use of hearing aids. The Hear me out event will also host a talk by Professor Alex Frangi (Diamond Jubilee Chair in Computational Medicine) in which he will be discussing how computational medicine can be used to improve the effectiveness of medical devices, and how in silico trials (computer-based trials performed on virtual patients) may provide a solution to overcoming the issues faced in getting medical devices approved for clinical trials.

Science with a capital ‘S’

On the final day of Pint of Science (20th May), the University of Leeds will be talking about Science with a capital ‘S’.  This event will feature presentations from Dr Benjamin S. Hanson, Alex Wakeman, Alex Woodford, and Izzy Lloyd, and will primarily focus on the importance of science and its influence on our everyday lives. This event is for those who like both scientific reasoning and ethical debate, and will give the audience an appreciation of scientific methods as well as insight into the applications of science in tackling climate change, food security, and sustainability. Furthermore, the debate on who decides what science is and whether science should be inclusive or exclusive will come under rebuttal.

Pint of Science 2021. Source: Pint of Science UK.

I think we can all agree, now more than ever, the importance science has within our society. Within the last 18 months the power of science and its application has been brought into focus. with the development of Covid-19 vaccines that have been immensely important tools in helping to protect against this deadly virus, saving the lives of many and restoring hope in a time of crisis. 

Still think science is not for you? Come along! Have your say! You may even be surprised at what you learn along the way. Scientist or not, get the answers to those questions you have always wondered about but have never had answered, or even just to learn something new and open your eyes to new realms of technology. If you cannot go to the pub then quench your thirst at home with a Pint of Science. 17th -20th May 2021. Don’t miss out!

By Megan Pierce

Header image from Pint of Science on LinkedIn.