We will follow the coastal path North from Burwick, up the west coast of South Ronaldsay with stunning views over Scapa Flow, the islands and of course the Pentland Firth and Caithness. This area can be a good place for seeing cetaceans, seals, seabirds and wildflowers. Medium 3 hours, Medium, £39pp Megan’s aim with the Festival walks is to take you off the beaten track where you can see some different wildlife and enjoy Orkney scenery. The maximum group size is 6 people. You are advised to have appropriate footwear for walking, ie walking boots
ONLINE The world of the dinosaurs included some flying reptiles – pterosaurs. But some of the smaller dinosaurs had feathers, and it’s now turning out that some of these feathered dinosaurs could also fly under their own wing power. Prof. Michael Pittman of the University of Hong Kong tells the story of the origin of flight for the ancestors of the birds of today.
Phoenix Cinema, Pickaquoy, Kirkwall Fire on the Amazon, fire in the Arctic, heatwaves in India, drought in California – around the world reports are coming in of weather extremes and changing climate patterns. What is it like for people directly involved? Prof. Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University brings stories from varied places, from melting permafrost to parched farmland, and shows the direct impact on many lives. This event will also be livestreamed.
Phoenix Cinema, Pickaquoy, Kirkwall It happens so often in social work and in mental health and many other areas. The professionals say the people don’t understand, and the people say they’re not being understood. A new strategy seeks to bring everyone together to tackle problems. Initially developed for work with babies and parents, it’s now being taught to mental health clinicians, physicians, lawyers, administrative and policy professionals. It’s about tuning in, and interacting, and building relationships, and it’s called FAN (Facilitated Attuned iNteraction). This event will also be livestreamed. “Put
ONLINE It’s often suggested that artificial intelligence (AI) will eventually take over all the skilled tasks that humans carry out. However, argues Prof. Iain Alasdair MacLeod of Strathclyde University, a key ability in human affairs is to successfully manage complex uncertainty. The human brain is especially suited to such tasks while even the most advanced AI methods do not come close to replicating the needed functionality. Recognising this, he says, means that we must think afresh about education, which traditionally teaches us to think about known situations and apply known techniques to
Peedie Kirk Hall, Kirkwall They’re everywhere in our bodies, from the keratin in our hair and nails to the enzymes catalysing the wealth of processes in our cells, like thousands of little molecular machines. And although they’re often big molecules, they’re folded into complex three-dimensional shapes, and the precise details of such shapes have a critical impact on the way in which each protein operates. How to predict the shapes has till now seemed an impossible challenge – but as Prof. David Shortle of John Hopkins University explains, recent advances in the
ONLINE Despite more than a century of research the nature of animal navigation remains mysterious. Many animals seem to have a magnetic sense, but this cannot explain their navigation abilities. If you were parachuted into an unknown place and given a sensitive compass you’d know where north is but not where home is. Dr Rupert Sheldrake will give an overview of research on this subject and highlight the unanswered questions as well as discussing possible experiments for answering them, including test with homing pigeons on ships at sea.
The Orkney Club, Harbour Street, Kirkwall To bolster team spirit on his Antarctic expedition of 1907, Sir Ernest Shackleton personally ordered 25 cases of a Highland malt whisky. A century later, three cases were discovered, frozen into the ice beneath his base camp. The whisky was excavated and flown to New Zealand to be thawed out. Through careful analysis, its exact constituents were worked out, and the whisky recreated. Master brewer Ken Duncan tells the story, with polar historian Dr Maria Pia Casarini setting the scene. Organised by the Institute of Brewers