The Oxford Science and Ideas Festival (IF Oxford) is the annual city-wide science and ideas festival, now in its 31st year. Between 7 and 30 October over 100 events will take place across the city, including interactive zones, workshops, performance art, walking tours, and panel discussions.
What does it take to make a vaccine? How do birds fly? Why would you take a plant to outer space? What is love? These are just some of the questions that Oxford University researchers will explore as part of IF Oxford. Whether your interests are in computers, the natural world, health and disease, or the great philosophical questions of life, IF Oxford aims to enable everyone to meet and question experts, have fun, and experiment with something new. With events for children and families, sessions for teenagers and adults, and group activities, there really is plenty for everyone to explore.
Alongside hundreds of creative and technical professionals from businesses and organisations across Oxfordshire, a wide range of Oxford University departments are contributing to the 2022 festival. Researchers are heading out to meet the public in community centres, libraries, theatres, shopping centres, pubs, cafés, and online.
Highlights from the 2022 programme include:
Explorazone, Saturday 8 October, Wesley Memorial Church, New Inn Hall Street Find out about our remarkable DNA damage repair mechanisms and what happens when these go wrong, enter the ‘Artificial Intelligence Bestiary’, debunk some popular bodily beliefs, learn how to beat the bugs without antibiotics, and be wowed by a smoking demonstration of ocean acidification.
- Plants for the Future, Sunday 9 October, Oxford Botanic Garden Learn how scientists are taking plants to space and working out how to feed future missions to Mars and beyond, discover how plant science is being used to clean up oil spills and develop anti-fogging glasses, find out about sustainable fashion, and have a go at designing your own Green City.
- Tech Works, Saturday 15 October, Oxford Works, ARC Oxford, Cascade Way Learn how to make a vaccine with Oxford University’s Jenner Institute and Pandemic Sciences Institute, play the Department of Paediatrics’ Muscle Switch video game to find out how muscles repair damage, and soar through a scale model of the solar system designed by astrophysicist Professor Stephen Smartt and the artist Oliver Jeffers.
- Science @ the Shops, Saturday 15 October and Sunday 16 October, Templars Square Shopping Centre, Cowley Find out how to keep your arteries clear and your blood flowing with Oxford Population Health, learn how to keep your smile safe from tooth decay, try your hand at surgery, and explore the cutting-edge research being led by Oxford University’s Medical Sciences Division.
- Animal Senses Zone, Saturday 22 October, John Krebs Field Station, Wytham Get up close to birds of prey with Oxford Flight Group, meet the beekeepers and discover the incredible abilities of bees with Oxford Bee Lab, and find out how spiders ‘hear’ through their webs with the Animal Vibration Lab.
- Her: artificial intelligence and human nature, Thursday 13 October, Ultimate Picture Palace Join neuroscientists from the University of Oxford for a screening and discussion on this Oscar-winning science fiction romantic drama about a lonely writer who falls in love with his computer’s operating system.
- Using body clock science to improve your health, Friday 21 October, Wig & Pen Russell Foster, Professor of Circadian Neuroscience at Oxford University and author of the book Life Time, explains how getting back in synch with natural rhythms could help us both boost our wellbeing and optimise our daily routines.
- Geology in a cemetery near you, events in Headington, Central Oxford, East Oxford, and North Oxford. Join geologists from Oxford University Museum of Natural History on a guided geological walk: you’ll never look at a cemetery the same way again.
- Human Flourishing, Saturday 22 October, University Church Why we are here? What makes for a good life? Andrew Briggs, Oxford University Professor of Nanomaterials and author of Human Flourishing, joins Kathy Sykes, presenter of BBC’s hit Rough Science, to question the role of technology and the nature of truth in our world.
IF Oxford is run by an independent charity that brings together academics, businesses, community groups, and individuals, giving festival visitors the chance to find out about the very latest research and innovation happening right here in Oxford. Festival Manager, Cathy Rose said: ‘The festival presents hundreds of ideas and makes enjoyable connections across science and society. The team works year-round with neighbourhood groups and organisations of all types across the county to create events designed to bring a smile to your face, while setting those neurons firing in your brain.’
Professor Graham Taylor, Director of the John Krebs Field Station, who is leading some of the activities at the Animal Senses Zone, said: ‘We’re hugely looking forward to opening up the Field Station to the public for the first time. Our visitors will be able to see the facilities that we use to study sensory ecology and animal behaviour as naturally as possible, including a Hollywood-like motion capture studio for investigating how birds use vision to guide their flight. Many of the Biology Department’s populations of birds, fish, bees, and spiders will be on display on the day, and weather permitting, there will even be a flying display from the Oxford Flight Group’s flying team of Harris’ hawks.’
Festival programme and tickets:
The festival programme, including dates, times, locations, and booking links for individual events, can be found on the IF Oxford website. Most events require advance booking.