The weird and wonderful side of science


Leeds Festival of Science (14 March - 4 April) marks its 8th birthday this year with a packed programme of events for the general public.

It kick starts with the Ig Nobel Prizes Show on Thursday 20 March, which honours the bizarre and extraordinary achievements in science, medicine and technology by celebrating research stories that make people laugh and then think. 

Ig Nobel Prizes are handed out by genuine Nobel Laureates at a ceremony at Harvard University each year and the master of ceremonies, Marc Abraham, will be revealing the latest extraordinary research stories in order to spur people’s interest in the sciences.

Dr Ruth Holland, one of the Leeds Festival of Science organisers, said: “This will be a great way to launch the public events for this year’s festival and I hope people will enjoy finding out more about this weird and wonderful side of science.”

Organised by the University of Leeds, the Leeds Festival of Science not only promotes the more unusual stories, but also aims to bring the science behind everyday activities to life.

On Saturday 29 March, the Engineering Experience in the Parkinson Building at the University offers a full day of interactive demonstrations and experiments, giving people of all ages a free insight into a range of engineering feats, like how mobile phones can still work when dropped into liquids and how we tackle medical challenges, such as designing knee implants.

Public events are held on the University campus and across the city. 

Ig Nobel Show tickets are £6 and all other events are free, but have limited places and some need pre-booking.

Highlights include:

  • Big Data and Parliament (Friday 21 March, 12pm – 2.30pm, Liberty Building, University of Leeds campus, Lecture Theatre LG06)

Members of the public can take on the role of being a Parliamentary Select Committee member and quiz scientists about Big Data. This event is organised by Parliament’s Outreach Service in partnership with the University of Leeds. 

  • Black Holes, White Holes and Worm Holes (Wednesday 26 March, 7pm, Conference Auditorium, University of Leeds campus)

A free talk from Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell will explain whether there really are black and white holes in space and whether travel through a worm hole to another universe possible. The talk is organised by the Yorkshire Branch of the Institute of Physics and is suitable for all ages.

  • Back to the Future (Friday 28 March, 7pm – 9pm, Thackray Medical Museum, St James’s University Hospital, Beckett Street)

A theatrical re-telling of the fascinating history of cancer will offer the public an insight into cancer research and a glimpse into the future when all cancers could be cured. 

The Leeds Festival of Science also offers school children from the region a chance to sample special science and technology workshops. Over 3,500 children will be taking part across the three weeks, learning about a range of science, engineering and technology innovations, such as how we fix broken bones and how we develop apps for mobiles. 

Ruth continued: “Offering these taster sessions will really get children thinking about the importance of sciences and such hands-on events have proved time and time again to inspire the next generation.” 

The Festival coincides with National Science & Engineering Week, organised by the British Science Association, promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) activities across the UK to people of all ages. 

Further information

Journalists wishing to attend or film any of the events should contact the University press office on 0113 343 4031 or email