August, in Edinburgh, is Festival time. For four weeks the city is alive as it plays host to the world’s biggest arts event, comprising several festivals spanning a plethora of cultural forms.
For the sixth year in succession, the Genomics Forum will be contributing several threads to this rich artistic tapestry as it once again supports and participates in the Edinburgh International Book Festival – one of the world’s largest and most prestigious literary events.
The Forum is delighted to be involved in the production of three events at this year’s Book Festival that will allow both the public and experts to explore the interaction between science and society.
Proceedings commence on Monday 13 August, when editor of Wired magazine, Ben Hammersley; author of the forthcoming Biohackers, Dr Alessandro Delfanti; and synthetic aesthetics researcher Dr Jane Calvert, will discuss the innovative advances and political and ethical challenges behind the rise of DIY-bio and citizen science, in the event: DIY-Bio: Empowerment or anarchy?, which will be chaired by Forum Writer-in-Residence Dr Pippa Goldschmidt.
On Saturday 18 August attention turns to how our physical and social environment actually influences the way our genetic inheritance is realised, and the implications this potentially has for social policy, when Dr Nessa Carey, author of The Epigenetics Revolution; Dr Paul Shiels, from Glasgow University’s Institute of Cancer Sciences; and Professor Steve Yearley from the Genomics Forum discuss, with Richard Holloway, the implications of The Epigenetic Evolution.
Forum-produced events conclude on Wednesday 22 August when consideration is given to how fiction – and particularly young people’s literature – represents scientists. In Scientistsin fiction – creative or crazed geniuses? author Sophie McKenzie, who has written about genetics in her Medusa Project and Blood Ties series, is joined by Dr Alistair Elfick, Director of the Centre for Biomedical Engineering at the University of Edinburgh and Dr David Kirby, Senior Lecturer in Science Communication at the University of Manchester, when they debate whether the way in which authors portray scientists within their work reflects the collective fears and insecurities of society.
The Genomics Forum’s involvement with this year’s Book Festival is not merely confined to the three engaging and informative events detailed above, however. Forum Writers-in-Residence Pippa Goldschmidt and Ken MacLeod will also be appearing in their own science-themed events. Pippa will be hosting a writing workshop on Monday 27 August, entitled Science and Literature: Separated by a Common Language?; and Ken will be a panellist in a session, also taking place on Monday 27 August, that will consider Scary Futuristic Fictions. Genomics Forum Director, Professor Steve Yearley, will make his second appearance at the Book Festival, again on Monday 27 August, when he chairs a discussion with science writer Lone Frank about the issues explored in her book My Beautiful Genome, in an event entitled Letting the Genome Out of the Bottle.
And as if the above Book Festival interaction were not expansive enough, the Genomics Forum will once again this year be blogging on a number of scientifically, socially and ethically relevant events. So be sure to check Genotype regularly during August for updates from our blogging team of Christine Knight, Pippa Goldschmidt, and Hazel McHaffie.
This August, the Genomics Forum will certainly be playing its part in making the world’s biggest arts Festival engaging, informative and fun. The Edinburgh International Book Festival takes place at Charlotte Square Gardens, Edinburgh, from 11 to 27 August 2012.