A short interview with Festival of the Future City on biomimetics, complex systems and Bionic City.
A rather belated share... 'Of Imaginariums and Innovation' for Libertine magazine, published November 12th 2015.
"Historian and critic Lewis Mumford once wrote of the works of H. G. Wells, “He enters utopia by hypothesis; that is, without any other subterfuge than an act of the imagination.” While a forefather of science fiction, Wells was by no means the first author to explore utopia, and its counterpart dystopia, through the medium of creative writing. On the contrary, Wells was building on an ancient tradition dating back at least as far as the earliest known literary works: to the very dawn of civilisation and of the city."
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Exploring myriad dimensions of the theme 'Building Better Worlds', the Edinburgh International Science Festival 2016 is end-to-end with truly mind-boggling talks, discussions, workshops, exhibitions, and more. Its programme features an extensive line-up of inspiring and insightful bioscience, biodesign and bioart activities, of which a few highlights are listed below.
BIO AND BEYOND: 26 - 13 May
Co-curated by the Science Festival, Summerhall and ASCUS Art & Science, Bio and Beyond brings together work from local and international artists inspired by or challenging science and technology’s potential to improve our world and how we live in it. Artists, designers and scientists include Heather Barnett, Anna Dumitriu, ecoLogicStudio, Patrick Hickey, Simon Park, and Sarah Roberts.
MENAGERIE OF MICROBES: 26 March
Join the Menagerie of Microbes team of artists and scientists for a day of interdisciplinary workshops, talks and discussions exploring the mechanisms, histories and future potential of simple yet complex life forms.
IN NEED OF SUNSHINE: 29 March
Research has highlighted lots of reasons why sunshine is important, but how does it help our health? How much do we need? And what’s the role of vitamin D? These questions and more will be discussed by our panel including local GP and avid vitamin D campaigner Dr Helga Rhein, dermatologist Dr Richard Weller and other experts talking about the links between the sun and multiple sclerosis and our emotional well being.
GREENING THE CITY: 29 March
Are cities and the countryside distinct environments, or can we bring the two together? With a proposal to create a ‘Leaf Walk’ bio-bridge in Edinburgh, we explore urban planning, green innovation and its links with public health. In this event we will bring together Melissa Sterry, scientist and futurist, Bionic City; Pierre Forissier, director at Biomorphis, the practice designing the Leaf Walk bridge; and Prof Richard Mitchell, Professor of Public Health. You will also get the chance to exercise your green fingers. Supported by Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.
NATURAL CONNECTIONS: 31 March
Do you picture puffins when you go to the supermarket? Did you know your choice of compost could help protect us from climate change? Come and discover why nature is essential to life as we know it and how the choices you make affect the world around you. Prepare to be surprised, intrigued and entertained as our special guests take you through a series of scenarios and challenges which demonstrate how everything is connected!
INSPIRED BY NATURE: April 9
Nature has been perfecting solutions to problems since life began 4.1 billion years ago. The results of natural selection have already inspired our innovation and creativity. Now we need to look to nature again if we are to invent elegant manufacturing solutions for a sustainable future. Join Prof Thomas Speck from the Botanic Gardens of Freiburg and Dr Kalina Raskin from CEEBIOS (the first European Excellence Centre dedicated to Biomimicry) to discuss developments in biomimetics.
LIFE IN THE EXTREMES: 10 April
Our planet has an amazing variety of extreme environments, from the hottest deserts that can reach a baking 70°C to the deepest point in our oceans, a staggering seven miles down from the surface. Join us for three engaging talks on the different aspects of Life in the Extremes, looking at its importance in our soils, what it tells us about early life on the planet and whether life might exist elsewhere in the Universe.
EXCHANGE: 6th February - 15th May
Sometimes two very different things can work together in surprising ways. Discover how the two organisms that make up lichens, algae and fungi, share their abilities to enhance their lives and ours. Take a closer look at lichens that can be found on your doorstep and see beautiful brooches by Kate Bajic inspired by lichens and their chemistry.
NATURE MOTHER OF INVENTION: 19 March – 24 July
Many of the world’s greatest inventions combine human intellect with inspiration from nature. This new exhibition shows how one tropical plant family, the Sapotaceae, has contributed to a wide variety of useful creations from golf balls and telecommunication cables connecting continents to miracle sweeteners.
BioScience & BioArt Family Workshops
POP-UP SCIENCE: NEST BUILDING: 30 - 31 March
Get hands-on to find out why and how birds build nests. Explore the pieces of art and architecture that are influenced by bird nests. Examine nests from local and exotic birds, match the bird to the nest that it built and make a nest of your own to take home or leave in our special museum trees.
THE BACTERIAL CIRCUS: 27 - 30 March
Meet the physicists investigating how bacteria stick to surfaces and swim through tiny channels. In this hands-on workshop you’ll use microscopes to see bacterial cities. Watch how the bugs react to being put through their paces, learn how the bacteria can be controlled and design a pattern to corral the bugs into with light.
BIO-DISCOVERIES: 31 March - 4 April
How do tiny microscopic animals survive a drought? How can fruit flies help us understand motor neurone disease? Meet a team of biologists from The University of Edinburgh to find out what new things they’ve discovered over the past year about animals, plants and other living things. Then get hands-on and make some exciting discoveries for yourself under the microscope.
BUILDING BETTER HOMES FOR ANIMAL: 4 April
The health of the environment depends on lots of small critters that help to recycle energy and nutrients. Without them, our farms and wildlife would struggle. Join Scotland's Rural College to build your own mini-beast home and discover how important these overlooked animals really are.
POP-UP SCIENCE: ORGANOGENESIS: 3 - 4 April
Discuss cutting-edge science with stem cell scientists and co-create origami organs in this interactive, drop-in exhibition. The craft of origami provides many in-ways for discussions about the biology of organogenesis and the cutting edge work of growing organs from stem cells in the lab.
CELLS, MICROSCOPES & ART: 7 April
Come along to our drop-in microscope activities with scientists from Heriot Watt University to discover the amazing tiny world. You’ll also find out how lasers and a billion years of marine evolution have helped to accelerate our understanding of tiny things. You can even join in using your phone and create some spectacular science-inspired 3D art and light projections.
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Melissa Sterry, design scientist, systems theorist, futurologist, cross disciplinary designer developing Bionic City®, and PhD Researcher.
Asking the question "how would nature design a city" since 2010.
© Melissa Sterry 2017 All Rights Reserved