Cheltenham Science Festival showcase for Swansea researchers

Researchers from Swansea University will showcase their world-class work at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival 2013, which takes place from Tuesday, June 4 until Sunday, June 9.

Chelt Sci Fest 2013The University is a Major Supporter of the UK’s leading science festival and its organisers have selected three of the University’s most innovative and exciting research areas to feature in the programme of events, which promises to be as diverse as ever – exploring everything from DNA and frontier medicine, to comets and the humble cup of tea.

Swansea University researchers at the Cheltenham Science Festival

Mike Charlton, Professor of Experimental Physics in the Department of Physics, College of Science, will give an introduction to particle physics, with Dr Tom Whyntie of CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research; Dr Richard Johnston and Dr Ian Mabbett of the Materials Research Centre, College of Engineering, will lead four Crime Scene Investigation events, using state-of-the-art microscopy, spectroscopy, finger print analysis and 3D-printing; and Rory Wilson, Professor of Aquatic Biology, and Head of Biosciences in the College of Science, will speak on his research to understand more about wild animals through the innovative Animal Diaries tags he has developed. 

Prof Peter HiggsThere will also be an opportunity for Festival goers to hear about the Higgs boson from the man who theorised it – physicist Professor Peter Higgs,  an Honorary Fellow of Swansea University – as he talks to the Festival’s Guest Director Dara Ó Briain about his life and work, where the inspiration came from and how he feels about the recent discovery of a Higgs-like-boson at CERN.

Professor Noel Thompson, Swansea University Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), said: “As a Major Supporter of the Festival again this year, we aim to increase awareness of the University’s world-class research at the world’s largest and most prestigious science festival.

“Communicating and disseminating the impact and value of the leading-edge research we undertake here in Swansea, in collaboration with partners world-wide, is crucial. Participation in the Festival again this year, highlighting the fields of Physics, Engineering, and Biosciences, provides an ideal platform for us to engage with the public to do this.

“We are rightly proud of our ground-breaking researchers taking part this year and we look forward to what promises to be another exciting year for Swansea University at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival.”

The Swansea University events and researchers featuring in this year’s festival are:

Particle Physics: An Introduction

Prof Mike CharltonParticle physicists Dr Tom Whyntie, Science and Technology Facilities Council-funded ‘Researcher in Residence’ for the CERN@school project, and Professor Mike Charlton, Department of Physics, College of Science, Swansea University, who is part of the ALPHA experiment at CERN.

In this talk, which is suitable for beginners, Dr Tom Whyntie and Professor Mike Charlton will give a whirlwind introduction to particle physics, covering 100 years’ worth of science in just one hour, from 4pm until 5pm, on Friday, June 7, in the Arena.

From electrons and Crookes tubes to trapped antimatter, the Higgs boson and the Large Hadron Collider, come along and find out what you – and everything else in the world – are made of.

Crime Scene Investigation  

Dr Richard JohnstonDr Ian MabbettDr Richard Johnston and Dr Ian Mabbett, Materials Research Centre, College of Engineering, Swansea University.

On Saturday, June 8, four sell-out Crime Science Investigation events will take place in the Eureka Tent, for those aged 11 years and upwards.

The scenario presented is that a leading researcher has developed an amazing new material with incredible properties under extreme conditions – attracting much attention – but he has been found murdered and all the data and specimens stolen… whodunnit?

‌The investigation team, led by Drs Richard Johnston and Ian Mabbett,has recovered key pieces of evidence from the scene and participants will help identify the culprit using microscopy, spectroscopy, finger print analysis and 3D-printing.

Animal Diaries

Prof Rory WilsonRory Wilson, professor of Aquatic Biology, and Head of Biosciences, College of Science, Swansea University.

For more than 30 years, Professor Rory Wilson has been inventing special high-tech tags and attaching them to wild animals in an attempt to understand more about them.  Starting with penguins and moving to armadillos, sloths and even sharks, his work has given him access to their daily lives.

Professor Wilson’s talk, which takes place from 10am until 11am, on Sunday, June 9, in the Crucible, will be illustrated with some incredible examples as he reveals some of the animal secrets he has uncovered.

The Times Cheltenham Science Festival runs from Tuesday, June 4 until Sunday, June 9, 2013. It brings together more than 300 of the world's greatest scientists, thinkers, comedians and writers, to celebrate and explore the wonders of the natural world, the complexities of the human mind, and the mysteries of space. 

The Festival aims to engage, inform and inspire members of the public and encourage interaction with science and science-related issues. 

For full details of the Festival’s programme and ticketing information, visit