Hay Festival 2021 – Science

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Event 21

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Heidi Larson talks to Nicole Itano

The John Maddox Lecture: Stuck - Why Vaccine Rumours Persist and why we Need new Tactics to Manage Them

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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Vaccine reluctance and refusal are no longer limited to the margins of society. Debates around the necessity of vaccines, along with questions about their side effects, have gone mainstream, blending with geopolitical conflicts, celebrity causes and 'natural' lifestyles to attract a growing number of hearts and minds.

The anthropologist argues that issues surrounding vaccine hesitancy stem from people feeling left out of the conversation. She examines the social vectors that transmit vaccine rumours around the globe and how they can be addressed.

Heidi Larson is Professor of Anthropology, Risk and Decision Science and the founding director of the Vaccine Confidence Project. Heidi is in conversation with Nicole Itano, Co-ordinator for the Global Recovery Collective and former lead of the United Nations initiative, Verified, aimed at combatting COVID-19 misinformation.


Introduced by Magdalena Skipper, editor-in-chief of Nature magazine.

Event 39

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Peter Scott-Morgan talks to Stephen Fry

Peter 2.0: The Human Cyborg

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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Peter, a brilliant scientist, is told he will lose everything he loves – his husband, family, friends. He has Motor Neurone Disease, a condition universally considered to be terminal. He is told it will destroy his nerve cells and that within two years, it will take his life, too. But face-to-face with death, he decides there is another way and using science and technology, he navigates a new path that will enable him not just to survive, but to thrive. This is true story about the first person to combine his very humanity with artificial intelligence and robotics to become a full Cyborg. His discovery means that his terminal diagnosis is negotiable, something that will rewrite the future. By embracing love, life and hope rather than fear, tragedy and despair he will become Peter 2.0.

There will be no Q&A at the end of the event.

Event 40

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Malcolm Gladwell

The Bomber Mafia: A Story set in War

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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Before the Second World War, at a sleepy Air Force base in central Alabama, a group of renegade pilots puts forth a radical idea. What if we made bombing so accurate that wars could be fought entirely from the air? And if we could make the brutal clashes between armies on the ground a thing of the past? This book tells the story of what happened when that dream was put to the test, following the stories of a reclusive Dutch genius and his homemade computer, Winston Churchill's forbidding best friend, a team of pyromaniacal chemists at Harvard, a brilliant pilot who sang vaudeville tunes to his crew, and the bomber commander, Curtis Emerson LeMay, who would order the bloodiest attack of the Second World War.

Event 45

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Nick Crane talks to Simon Hancock

Latitude

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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By knowing the shape of our planet we can create maps, survey the oceans, follow rivers, navigate the skies, and travel the globe. This is the story of how we discovered what no one thought possible: the shape of the earth. In 1735, the good ship Portefaix sailed across the Atlantic carrying the world’s first international team of scientists to a continent of unmapped rainforests and ice-shrouded volcanoes. Beset by egos and disease, storms and earthquakes, mutiny and murder, they struggled for ten years to reach the single figure they sought: the length of one degree of latitude. Twenty-five years after the publication of Longitude, this tells the other side of the story, one of our most important geographical discoveries.

Event 51

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony and Cass R. Sunstein talk to Angela Duckworth

The British Academy Platform: Noise

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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We make thousands of decisions every day, from minute choices we don't even know we're making, to great, agonising deliberations. But when every decision we make is life-changing, the way we reach them matters. And for every decision, there is noise. Co-authored by three eminent thinkers, this book teaches us how to understand all the extraneous factors that impact our decision-making – and how to combat them to improve our thinking. Filled with new science, illuminating case studies and practical examples, the skills outlined in this book are relevant to private or public institutions, schools, hospitals, businesses, judges – and to us all.

Daniel Kahneman is known for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making. Olivier Sibony is a writer, educator and consultant specializing in strategic decision making. Cass R. Sunstein is an expert on administrative and environmental law. They are in conversation with Angela Duckworth, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studies grit and self-control.

Event 61

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Elizabeth Kolbert talks to Alok Jha

Under a White Sky

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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The New Yorker journalist and environmentalist, best known for the Pulitzer Prizewinning The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, meets biologists trying to preserve the world's rarest fish, engineers turning carbon emissions to stone in Iceland, Australian researchers developing a 'super coral' that can survive on a hotter globe, and physicists who are contemplating shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to cool the earth, changing the sky from blue to white. Inspiring and darkly comic, the book examines the challenges we face and the potential for solving them.

Alok Jha is the science and technology correspondent at The Economist and author of The Water Book.

Event 90

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Emma Gregg and Nick Hunt in conversation

Travel the world and save the planet

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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Emma Gregg shows you how to get a no-fly holiday off the ground in The Flightless Traveller with 50 life-affirming trip ideas for those who would like to fly less, or not at all. City breaks and coastal retreats, bike rides and sailing voyages, vintage railways jaunts and intercontinental journeys are all within reach. Best of all, they make the journey an essential part of the adventure.

In Outlandish, Nick Hunt takes us across landscapes that should not logically be there, wildernesses in Europe that belong to far-flung places: a patch of Arctic tundra in Scotland, the continent’s largest surviving remnant of primeval forest in Poland and Belarus, Europe’s only true desert in Spain; and the fathomless grassland steppes of Hungary.

Event 96

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Tahmima Anam talks to Georgina Godwin

The Startup Wife

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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Halfway through her PhD and already dreaming of running her own lab, computer scientist Asha has her future mapped out. Then a chance meeting and whirlwind romance with her old high-school crush, Cyrus, changes everything. Dreaming big, they come up with a revolutionary idea: to build a social networking app that could bring meaning to millions of lives. While Asha creates an ingenious algorithm, Cyrus’ charismatic appeal throws him into the spotlight. When the app becomes the next big thing, Asha should be happy, but decisions are being made without her and she feels invisible in the boardroom of her own company? The author talks to writer and broadcaster Georgina Godwin.

Event 106

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Becky Inkster

Lunchtime Lecture Series 9: Young People's Mental Health in a Complex World

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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Interpreting research on technology, neuroscience, arts, and ethics, the neuroscientist will examine some of the diverse challenges and opportunities that children and adolescents experience while navigating complex environments in the digital age. She explains how the brain interacts with different environments, how technological innovation can offer much-needed support yet also cause serious harm, and how the arts and music can provide powerful ways for young people to express themselves. Dr. Inkster is a neuroscientist, Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge and co-founder of Hip Hop Psych, which uses hip hop music to improve public engagement and awareness in mental health issues and psycho-education.

This event will be pre-recorded but the speaker will be live on the chat to answer questions during the event, and for 15 minutes afterwards.

Event 108

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Ed Miliband talks to Simon Hancock

Go Big: How to fix our World

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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Think of any problem that we face and you may be surprised to learn that there is already a solution out there. We just need to know where to look – and have the courage to think big. Everywhere, people are devising ingenious ways to tackle everything from inequality and the climate crisis to the challenges of housing, technology and demographic change. Based on his podcast Reasons to Be Cheerful, Ed Miliband investigates transformative schemes and why they work. He demonstrates that a different world is possible and we can get there by implementing the best, most ambitious solutions on a large scale. The opportunity for change is immense. It’s time to Go Big.

Event 113

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Jess Phillips, Francesca Martinez and Gina Miller in conversation with James Plunkett

This Is How We Come Back Stronger

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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Everything changed in spring 2020, when life around the world retreated behind closed doors and gender inequalities and systemic racism were brought to new and shocking prominence. Women of all backgrounds and experiences were disproportionately affected by the crisis. Essential debate and action was, for a time, silenced. Then we re-emerged in protest and started to rethink our fight for equality. So, what happens now? This book is a unique collection of essays, interviews, and fiction by feminist writers.

In End State: 9 Ways in Which Society is Broken and how we fix it, James Plunkett argues that this can be a moment not of despair, but of historic opportunity – a chance to rethink, renew, and reform some of the most fundamental ways we organise society.

Jess Phillips MP, Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding, is joined by comedian Francesca Martinez, activist and author Gina Miller, and James Plunkett, Executive Director of Citizens Advice.

In association with the British Library Living Knowledge Network

Event 118

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Didier Queloz

Lunchtime Lecture Series 10: The Exoplanet Revolution

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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Over the last 25 years scientists have identified a large number of exoplanets –planets from outside our solar system – ranging from large planets sauch as Jupiter to smaller, denser objects such as Earth. This has opened up new perspectives on the possible rarity of planetary systems like our own, and raising exciting prospects for the potential of probing planet atmospheres for traces of life. The Nobel Laureate, Professor of Physics at University of Cambridge, discusses what the latest research tells us about the origins of life.

This event will be pre-recorded but the speaker will be live on the chat to answer questions during the event, and for 15 minutes afterwards.

Event 121

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Suzanne Simard talks to Patrick Goymer

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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​'This is not a book about how we can save the trees. This is a book about how the trees might save us'
No one has done more to transform our understanding of trees than Professor Suzanne Simard. She was the scientist who discovered that every tree in a forest is linked by underground fungi, allowing them to communicate and build communities around powerful, nurturing Mother Trees.
Today her work is taken as scientific orthodoxy and has inspired countless researchers, writers, and filmmakers, including James Cameron, Robert Macfarlane and Richard Powers, who based a character on Simard in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Overstory.
But people didn’t always listen. Despite her ground-breaking discoveries, she was initially dismissed by the male-dominated scientific establishment of the day. It would be years until the world took her ideas seriously: in 1997, a landmark paper in the journal Nature coined the term Wood Wide Web to describe her work, marking the dawn of a new era of ecological awareness.
Now, for the first time, Suzanne Simard tells her own story, in her own words, bringing us into the world of Mother Trees that enable our survival.

Suzanne Simard is a professor in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences and teaches at the University of British Columbia and Finding the Mother Tree is her first book.

She is in conversation with Patrick Goymer, Chief Editor of Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Event 124

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Gaia Vince, Jim Al-Khalili and Camilla Pang talk to Rachael Garside

The Royal Society Science Book Prize

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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For 33 years The Royal Society has celebrated outstanding popular science writing and authors. Their Book Prize is awarded annually by a panel of expert judges, comprising eminent scientists, authors, journalists and broadcasters. From hundreds of entries are shortlisted only six books, which make popular science writing compelling and accessible. Join three of those shortlisted for last year’s Prize: Gaia Vince (Transcendence: How Humans Evolved through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time), Jim Al-Khalili, (The World According to Physics) and the winner, Camilla Pang (Explaining Humans: What Science Can Teach Us about Life, Love and Relationships).

Previous winners include Stephen Hawking (2002), Bill Bryson (2004), Cordelia Fine (2017), Mark Miodownik (2014), Caroline Criado Perez (2019) and Camilla Pang (2020). The 2021 shortlist will be announced later this summer.

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