As I mentioned before, one of the universities in town held its annual May Festival this weekend. This includes activities, tours, lectures, readings, poetry and arts work shops, a mini local food and crafts market, and this year lots and lots of rain.
The main focus of this year's event seemed to be on poetry and biology-related science, i.e. little maths or physics, lots of genetics, medicine, botany, and zoology.
What's not to love, right?
I didn't even mind the rain, even if this meant that all of the kids activities today were put in the same "Hall of Mayhem" as some of the science exhibits. Actually, it was fabulous!
So many kids and adults mingling and looking through microscopes - I had no idea flatworms could be so fascinating, but they are when you get to learn about stem cell research at the same time - while putting googly eyes on Play-Doh worms or bending balloons into ... things.
I had great plans for going to lots of the lectures on offer. This worked well yesterday, but this morning I was just too pooped to get going in time. I still ended up learning something new about new research projects in psychology...and lo and behold, I didn't miss out too much, because I had a really lovely chat with the gent who presented the chemistry lecture I missed. It was all about the periodic table, which is lovingly represented here as a patchwork knitting project - and yes, I did ask how I could get one:
I really, really want one.
There were lots of things like this going on featuring forensic foot print identification, snot production experiments, the flat worms, etc. It really was an excellent way to engage young and old.
As a fan Val McDermid's fiction, I had to stop and chat here, too.
I didn't stop at this one quite as long.
Of the lectures I ended up going to over the last two days, the one that really stood out for me was not as expected the one about Age Related Sarcasm, but one about research that the university is carrying out in the field of genetics. Basically, they are looking for markers to identify enhancers that switch on (or off) the creation of certain proteins. The research they had focused on for the public presentation dealt with the link between alcohol addiction and anxiety in men.
It was really fascinating, and I felt urged to google more information about GAL5.1 enhancers when I got home.
Anyway, the Fest was a blast, and as every year the setting in the old part of the university campus (and the old part of the city) certainly contributed to the general fun atmosphere - despite the downpours and general dampness.
Oh, and of course, my visit to the Old Town also included a visit to the Blackwells branch.
All of the goodies collected this weekend, not all from Blackwells.