The Pint of Science Festival 2018: Drink Up, Think Up!

The Pint of Science Festival 2018: Drink Up, Think Up!

Laura Riggall highlights the thought-provoking non-profit organisation Pint of Science, and the exciting research it aims to bring to pub goers around the world

Pint of Science is a non-profit organisation that brings brilliant scientists to a local pub during an annual science festival in May. As part of their events, researchers discuss the latest happenings with the public in a relaxed setting. Attendees don’t need any prior knowledge, and it is an exciting opportunity to have a pint with those responsible for the future of science.

The idea behind Pint of Science manifested where the best ideas are born: in the lab. As researchers at Imperial College London in 2012, Michael Motskin and Praveen Paul were working to further understand the mechanisms underlying Parkinson’s and motor neuron disease, but they felt that there was a divide between their research efforts and what motivated them. When describing their work, their friends would also view much of it as science fiction. Therefore, they felt that it was important to bridge this gap, especially to the individuals and families affected by such conditions.

A ‘Meet the Researchers’ event in 2012 brought people affected by Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, motor neuron disease, and multiple sclerosis into Motskin and Paul’s research facilities so that they could see the research being undertaken. It was an inspirational moment for both visitors and researchers, and Motskin and Paul contemplated that if people were interested in attending facilitates to meet scientists, then why not bring scientists to the people? From this, the idea behind Pint of Science was born.

Specifically, Motskin and Paul wanted Pint of Science to be a brainstorming session, led by the brightest scientists, to inspire and excite the public with the latest scientific ideas, and to be an opportunity for the public to ask the most basic questions without judgment. And, what could be a more suitable place for an event like this than the pub, the most traditional institution in the UK.

Local Pint of Science festivals are now curated by small teams of volunteers, frequently early-career scientists, for which each university has a dedicated branch. During the annual festival, there are many different events taking place at the same time in multiple cities. Each themed event, held at the same venue throughout the duration of the festival, involves two or three scientific talks which vary each night, with intermissions that can take any shape, whether it be music, comedy, art or more science.

Events are divided into six themes: Beautiful Mind (neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology), Atoms to Galaxies (physics, chemistry and maths), Our Body (human biology, health and medicine), Planet Earth (earth sciences, zoology and plant science), Tech Me Out (technology, engineering and computing) and Our Society (sociology, law, history and policy). Offering great variety, attendees can choose the subject or speakers they are most interested in each night of the festival.

Awarded the Points of Light Prize in 2015 in recognition of finding “a brilliantly innovative way to take science out of the lab and show thousands of people how interesting science can be”, Pint of Science has become the largest celebration of discovery and research across the globe. In 2013, its debut festival was held in just three cities, but by 2015, it had grown to encompass nearly 460 events across 51 cities in nine countries, and involved over 1,200 speakers, 500 volunteers, and 25,000 members of the public. Given its staggering success thus far, this year’s festival promises to be the best one yet.

Overall, the Pint of Science festival, which is running May 14th-16th this year, offers exciting and thoroughly interesting talks that can engage even those who have only the slightest scientific knowledge. Scientists from UCL are holding a free launch event on April 5th, to allow you to find out more about the events they have organised for the festival before you purchase tickets.

“Pint of Science is a brilliant organisation to work with. It’s just so great to see the passion that the volunteers put in to organising the events to make it an enjoyable time for everyone” says Alexander Marshall, a member of the publicity team at the UCL branch. “This year has an amazing line up of speakers, from somebody who is building whole body parts from cells, to space rovers and the fabric of the Universe”, continues Alexander. Clearly, the festival promises to be an excellent affair, and will be a wonderfully thought-provoking experience whilst sipping on your favourite beverage.

For tickets to UCL branch-specific events go to:

  • Launch event (free to everyone): https://pintofscience.co.uk/event/ucl-launch-event
  • Festival events (tickets are available to buy from April 9th): https://pintofscience.co.uk/organisation/ucl

Image credit: University of Liverpool

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