Project Description

Talks

There is superconductivity to whalesong, Arctic seaweed and Galapagos seabirds, Svalbard’s seas and Colombia’s mountains. There is papermaking, orca sighting, beachcombing, the story of women in shipbuilding, and the boats of Hudson’s Bay … and much, much more in a very full programme of events with what we hope will be something for everyone.

THE AMAZING MASER

September 8 → 11:30 am12:15 pm

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.

IN OUR GENES, OR FROM OUR LIVES?

September 8 → 2:00 pm2:45 pm

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.

VIKING GENES

September 8 → 3:30 pm4:15 pm

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.

SCIENCE UNDER SAIL

September 8 → 5:00 pm5:45 pm

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.

SONGS OF THE WHALES

September 8 → 6:30 pm7:15 pm

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.

THE THREE LARGEST TELESCOPES

September 8 → 7:00 pm8:00 pm

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.

THE WAY BACK HOME

September 8 → 8:00 pm8:45 pm

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.

THE BOTANY OF BEER

September 8 → 9:15 pm10:00 pm

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.

TALK ON AN OCEANOGRAPHIC TOPIC

September 9 → 10:00 am10:45 pm

As the tall ship Pelican of London hoists her sails for Shetland, oceanographer Dr Charlotte Braungardt of the University of Plymouth joins us from aboard to tell us about … Details to come.

WHALES IN THE CHANGING ARCTIC – postponed

September 9 → 10:00 am10:45 pm

This event has been postponed due to unavoidable circumstances band and we look forward to an opportunity to reschedule.

ENCHANTED ISLANDS

September 9 → 11:30 am12:15 pm

The little-known Galapagos Islands came to the fore when Charles Darwin’s discoveries there completely changed our views of the living world. Author and photographer Dr Michael Leach has visited many times, and shows pictures of their extraordinary wildlife – giant tortoises and marine iguanas, green turtles and Sally Lightfoot crabs, penguins, sea lions, finches and frigate birds – and tells their story.

THE TREE OF LIFE UPROOTED – postponed

September 9 → 2:00 pm2:45 pm

This event has been postponed due to unavoidable circumstances band and we look forward to an opportunity to reschedule.

THE MASON, THE TSAR, AND THE DRY DOCKS OF SEVASTOPOL

September 9 → 3:30 pm4:15 pm

A newspaper obituary for a 19th-century stone mason led Neil Price on a trail of investigation: from Bristol to Tsarist Russia and a massive harbour development destroyed in the Crimean War. Andrea Price joins as reader for a story that starts with Catherine the Great and features Charles Gordon (later of Khartoum) and the first war to be recorded through the techniques of photography.

75 YEARS OF THE CHURCHILL BARRIERS

September 9 → 5:00 pm6:00 pm

It was one of the most significant and complex civil engineering achievements of the 20th century, closing off four fast-flowing tidal channels to form causeways that sealed off the eastern side of the anchorage of Scapa Flow and link today the island communities of Burray and South Ronaldsay with the Orkney mainland. The challenge was taken on by the construction company Balfour Beatty. Civil engineer John Andrew tells the story of how they solved it, and the massive scale of the operation with its quarries and rockworks, cableways and railways.

SHINING TO THE FUTURE

September 9 → 7:00 pm8:30 pm

Islands are in the frontline for challenges of environment and resources – and for finding solutions. The Virtual Island Summit (7-13 September) is this week bringing together islands worldwide to share their experiences and stories of island innovation. We join them live with stories of development projects in several Orkney islands showing how communities can shape energy developments to solve problems. You can hear about community-owned turbines in Stronsay and Shapinsay, and how the ReFLEX project is using hydrogen from energy generation peaks to operate community buses in Hoy and Eday. There’s news too of the SMILE project, where Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre are collaborating with Samsö and Madeira on tackling the problems of grid constraints by channelling energy peaks into affordable heating. We’ll hear feedback direct from islands in various parts of the world including Tasmania, Tokelau in the South Pacific, Anguilla in the Caribbean, and Tierra del Fuego. Island Summit organiser James Ellsmoor will join Mark Hull, Community Energy Scotland’s Orkney manager, in highlighting key points where Orkney examples can shine a light for island futures. In collaboration with Community Energy Scotland, Orkney Renewable Energy Forum, Island Innovation and Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters

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