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All Day


Orkney Camera Club respond each year to the Festival theme, and this year had an even bigger challenge – to do so online; and they have responded in splendid style. Their exhibition Orkney’s Coastal Waters is a delight, as you can see by going to it on the Artsteps site.

Sea-shapes and rock-forms: an Ian Scott retrospective

The exhibition ‘Ian Scott – a retrospective’ can be seen online at the Artsteps site. Online exhibitions use a lot of computer memory, so it is best to make sure first that all other applications are shut down, and it can take a little time to load. To start with, just clicking on an image is the simplest way around, moving from each one to its neighbour, and then furthermore possibilities can be found.


Katy Firth in association with Stromness Museum has put together an exhibition of 360 degree photospheres of a visit to the island. With each of the images, you can turn it round a full 360 degrees, to see the full range of views from your vantage point. You can go direct to the exhibition, and she is also going to provide online guidance as to how to make the best use of it.


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At temperatures near absolute zero, some metals lose their electrical resistance and become superconductors of electricity. Prof. Lesley Cohen of Imperial College London describes how superconductivity was discovered, and its underlying quantum nature with electric current carried by particles behaving coherently. She describes the longstanding search for superconductivity at room temperature; and how low-temperature superconducting qubits are leading the race to build a quantum computer.


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The familiar laser uses coherent light. The maser uses coherent microwaves, and can detect tiny signals from distant space probes, but needs high magnetic fields and difficult cooling schemes. Prof. Neil Alford and his team at Imperial College London have developed the first solid state maser operating at room temperature in the earth’s magnetic field – with, as he explains, potential applications from radio astronomy to cancer scanning.


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Plan your own Orkney lunch in advance from our downloadable recipe brochure, with links to Orkney suppliers. Then at 1 o’clock tune in to the Science Festival YouTube channel to hear from food writer Ghillie Basan about using wild plants for the menu, and to meet author Samantha Clark whose new book interweaves physics and philosophy with personal loss. Eric Walker will tell us where to find the Ash of Yggdrasill in the night sky. They’ll round off at 1.15 pm and join us for lunch around one of our online tables.


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What predominantly influences our overall health and our chances of falling ill – the genes we were born with, or how – and where – we live? Edinburgh University researcher Dr Carmen Amador looks at obesity, and the relative contributions from our genes and our lifestyle – and how we might disentangle the two.


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The target – to seek out 4,000 people worldwide with at least 2 grandparents from Orkney or Shetland. The purpose – to look at the genetics and health of the volunteers, to better understand what might cause diseases such as heart and eye problems, stroke, diabetes, cancer and others. The methods and project updates – come along and hear more from Dr Shona Kerr of Edinburgh University’s VIKING II research team.


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The tall ship Pelican of London is in Orkney, carrying out research to tackle marine challenges, in the tradition of HMS Beagle, launched 200 years ago. With other stops including St Kilda and Shetland, it’s setting the scene for the visionary Darwin200 project that hopes in 2021 to take scientists and conservationists on the route of Darwin and the Beagle. Five young scientists aboard the Pelican – Joe Ellison, Shaolin Casey, Penelope Martinez-Halmen, Aoibhinn Lynch and Abigail Cundell –join us with news of their research amid life under sail.


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Why do they sing? How do they learn their songs? Is there a connection to music more generally? Dr Luke Rendell and Dr Ellen Garland of St Andrews University’s Sea Mammal Research Unit describe the latest insights and explore their implications with composers Emily Doolittle and Alex South. This is followed by a performance by the Kapten Trio of Emily Doolittle’s piece Bowheads, based on the songs of the bowhead whale.


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Aberdeen Astronomical Society welcomes you to join them for Neville Brown’s account of the building of the three great observatories of Yerkes, Mount Wilson and Palomar and the driving force behind them – the American astronomer George Ellery Hale. At Mount Wilson he hired and encouraged Edwin Hubble, and he himself discovered magnetic fields in sunspots.


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Could life after lockdown provide an opportunity for reflection, and a return to a healthier relationship with the natural world? We are an intrinsic part of it, says Elizabeth Woodcock, walk leader, horticulturist and writer. She interweaves the work of writers, poets and scientists with images of the surrounding landscape of the Cumbrian Fells, to explore gardens, brains, lanes and life.


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In the days before hops, flavour was balanced in beer by foraged plants like angelica and meadowsweet, and by spices brought from the East on new sailing routes. Master brewer Ken Duncan tells the story.


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Round off the day with some music at The Reel, and the opportunity to take a break and join a table to meet up with old and new friends and exchange news, and some of the speakers from today’s events as well.

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