Online Events

You can access many events online. The past two years have been a time of discovery for us, developing online delivery and finding out that we have been able to reach many people who would not otherwise have been able to access us.

We are delivering a range of events online this year. Some of these are livestreamed from Festival venues, others are online only. We are encouraging local hospitality providers to put screens in social spaces.

With the expansion of outdoor events as well, we hope that the combination of indoor, outdoor and online events will give a fresh and lively format for the Festival.

BRINGING THE LIGHT BACK

August 31 → 6:00 pm7:30 pm

We shine a light on some of this year’s events and people. Dr Vassilios Spathopoulos shows a model of a 2,000-year-old gear-wheel computer, found off Antikythera. We’ll go to Stromness Museum and Orkney Fossil & Heritage Centre to view fossil fish from ancient Lake Orcadie. Then it's Kansas for Jake’s Midnight Science Club, with family science activities from Dr Steven ‘Jake’ Jacobs, former chief scientist of the Discovery Channel. “Young scientists and future wizards of all ages are welcome,” he says. “Be prepared to be challenged, laugh, be amazed, jump and duck for cover!”

ENGINEERING THE FUTURE

September 1 → 11:30 am12:30 pm

Is there any way to shift from our current self-destructive path to a more stable world? Yes, say the pioneers in the new field of transition engineering, developed to tackle big complex global problems in a systematic way. Daniel Kenning and Prof. Susan Krumdieck explain how we can develop route maps for the future.

ORKNEY’S ANCIENT GRAIN

September 1 → 3:30 pm4:15 pm

How far back can we trace the origins of bere, Orkney’s six-rowed barley? A very long way, says Prof. Terry Brown of Manchester University. Using DNA sequencing and other biomolecular methods it’s possible to build a picture of bere's evolution over the centuries – revealing that it’s been grown in Orkney for more than 4000 years.

A LAND OF LIMESTONE

September 1 → 9:00 pm9:30 pm

It’s a world of rivers and intermittent lakes, sinkholes and limestone pavements, chasms and underground caves. Dr Edvard Kobal describes Slovenia’s karst and the food it produces – apples and plums, beans and turnips, and grapes in loamy terra rossa soil.

THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS

September 2 → 10:00 am10:45 am

Our whole society depends on measurements, billions of them every day. The system is maintained by metrology – the science of measurement – which also aims to improve measurement accuracy over time, as Prof. Richard Brown, the Head of Metrology at the National Physical Laboratory, explains.

TREASURE ISLANDS: TALES OF MARINE SALVAGE

September 2 → 3:30 pm4:15 pm

In a lifetime’s career in marine salvage, Alec Crawford has explored wrecks from remains of the Spanish Armada to the SS Politician, the vessel made famous in the film Whisky Galore – and also the White Star Liner Oceanic, which, when built in 1899, was the biggest and most luxurious ship in the world.

THE SALT ROADS

September 2 → 7:30 pm8:30 pm

How the salt fish trade connected Shetland with the rest of Europe for more than two hundred years. John Goodlad, who has worked in the seafood industry all his life, describes how salt fish from Shetland became one of the staple foods of Europe and powered the economy of the islands.

THE ORKNEY SKY AT NIGHT

September 2 → 10:00 pm11:00 pm

Join Eric Walker for an hour of information about what to look for and how to recognise it. There will be pictures, star maps, and the opportunity to ask questions about stars and planets, and using a telescope. Eric will show images taken from his own back-garden observatory and from the Orkney sky this week.

HORIZONS FROM THE HARBOUR

September 3 → 10:00 am11:00 am

Research students from three universities – Heriot-Watt, Robert Gordon, and UHI – share news of the progress of their work, hosted by Dr Mike Bell of Heriot-Watt University’s International Centre for Island Technology in the Stromness campus with its views out across the harbour to Graemsay, Hoy and Scapa Flow.

FILM: THE FOSSIL SHORE OF LAKE ORCADIE

September 3 → 2:00 pm2:45 pm

Join geologist Dr John Flett Brown on the classic Orkney walk along the West Shore of Stromness in this new film made by Mark Jenkins. The journey begins with a fossil beach on the shore of ancient Lake Orcadie, the great lake from which today’s Orkney rocks began their story as sediments.

ANCIENT STORIES, MODERN SEAS

September 3 → 8:00 pm8:45 pm

Oceanographer Dr Neil Banas looks at how a story by a master Haida mythteller, Skaay, reflects the marine ecology on the North Pacific Ocean’s edge. “He managed to capture the dynamics of ecosystems at the ‘edge of chaos’ in his mythic frame with an accuracy that mathematical modellers still struggle to duplicate.”

THE SWEET SOUNDS OF THE SYNTHEZISER

September 3 → 9:00 pm10:30 pm

A group of synthesizer players in the north has been meeting online to play together through the pandemic and inspire each other, and this evening they’d like you to join them to listen to a mixture of pieces and find out more about the workings of synthesizers and their rich range of relaxing and sometimes ethereal sounds.

CLOSE TO WHERE THE HEART GIVES OUT

September 4 → 11:30 am12:15 pm

That’s the title of Dr Malcolm Alexander's book, looking back at a year in the life of an Orkney doctor, in Eday in the 1980s. He joins us to reflect on the work of an island GP, living in the heart of the community, coping with the medical and emotional challenges and the varied situations that can emerge with weather or wildlife.

SAILING NEOLITHIC SEAS

September 4 → 3:30 pm4:15 pm

To reach Orkney in Neolithic times meant building vessels strong enough to cross the Pentland Firth and safely carry cattle and timber as well as people. This requires substantial ship design and boat-building – but how? Biophysicist Dr Mark Cooper of the University of Washington has looked at ancient seacraft designs in many places.

THE QUEEN OF SCIENCE

September 4 → 9:00 pm9:45 pm

Mary Somerville was an astronomer, a mathematician, and a gifted writer. She carried out research into light and magnetism, pioneered new applications of mathematics to astronomy, and wrote textbooks and popular science books that achieved great success. She did all this despite being mainly self-taught, at a time when education for women was not encouraged. She was born in Jedburgh in 1780, the daughter of a Vice-Admiral, she spent her early years in Burntisland, Fife, and went on to become recognised as one of the most remarkable people of the 19th century. Cartographer Ian Archibald tells her story.

THE YEAR WE ALL WENT BACK

September 5 → 10:00 am10:45 pm

Will things ever get back to what they were before Covid? “I don’t think they will,” says epidemiologist Prof. Mark Woolhouse of Edinburgh University, “but that may not be all bad news. We have to do better next time, so let’s start thinking about future pandemics, the challenges they may present and how we should prepare.”

THE CLOCK, THE FAX AND THE CAITHNESS GENIUS

September 5 → 3:30 pm4:15 pm

The technology of the fax machine was invented and patented in 1843 by a crofter’s son from Watten in Caithness who had left school when he was 12. Alexander Bain was a clockmaker’s apprentice in Wick when he was inspired by a scientific lecture in Thurso on electricity – as John Mellis, author of Scotland’s Science, describes.

TUNE THE CAT’S WHISKER TO 2LO

September 5 → 5:15 pm6:15 pm

It’s 100 years since public service broadcasting got under way with the BBC’s transmissions from 2LO in London. Prof. Tom Stevenson tells the story of early radio with its powerful transmitters sending signals for reception on crystal sets with cat’s whiskers and early thermionic valve wireless sets, and shows some of them in action.

RISING TIDES

September 5 → 9:00 pm9:45 pm

Orkney's story started with hunter-gatherers some 10,000 years ago. This discovery of a long-lost past is due in particular to Caroline-Wickham Jones. Prof. Richard Bates and Prof. Martin Bates from the Rising Tides project team describe her work, including investigations in the Bay of Firth and the Stenness and Harray Lochs.

The Xerces Blue was the first North American butterfly to become extinct. The California Condor became extinct in the wild. But, as Barry Thomson of West Valley College, California, describes, that wasn't the end, thanks to museum genomics – using DNA from museum specimens to provide vital information on genetic identity.

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NEXT EVENTS ON

BRINGING THE LIGHT BACK

August 31 → 6:00 pm7:30 pm

WALK: MULL HEAD CIRCULAR

September 1 → 11:00 am3:00 pm

ENGINEERING THE FUTURE

September 1 → 11:30 am12:30 pm

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