The sea surged through the Festival, in a year when the world looked back a century to the battle of Jutland and forward to the potential of tidal power.
A few days after Jutland, HMS Hampshire sank off Marwick Head, and a licensed diving expedition this spring produced remarkable images of the condition of the wreck, using the latest techniques in underwater photography and 3D photogrammetry – and shown by expedition organiser Emily Turton.
Beautiful images from the world of electromagnetic waves were shown by Dr Tim Drysdale of the Open University, as he demonstrated how Maxwell’s great equations, which govern everything from light rays to radio waves, could be visualised.
Dr Pippa Goldschmidt told the story of the development of a later wave equation, the one produced by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger, which came into being during a romantic Christmas holiday in a Swiss mountain resort.
It was two centuries since the moment when the first haul of herring came in to Stronsay harbour, the start of a great industrial boom. The story was told of the arrival of the herring, and the dynamic Samuel Laing who saw this as an opportunity in the economic downturn following the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
There was a look back much further in time, to a 1.2-million-year-old human jawbone found in a Spanish cave – showing, said the discoverer, Dr María Martinón-Torres, that Europe was inhabited much earlier than was thought, with the first Europeans coming from Asia.
Elsewhere in the programme, she told the story of the cave in Siberia that has given a new strand to the story of humans in more recent times – to us and the Neanderthals must now be added new cousins – the Denisovans.
And one of the great physics discovereries of modern times, gravitational waves, was described from first-hand experience by Prof. Martin Hendry, a leading member of the Glasgow University team who were one of the core groups involved.
There was crystal tiling and dolphin communication, dark skies and broadband, the origin of comets and the gene that cracked the cancer code. The sparks flew in the sizzling Arcs and Sparks show, and the fires of the Big Bang were described.
For fuller details, you can download a copy of the programme here.