Imagine driving a car with a speed of 1000 mph from London to Aberdeen in half an hour (if the roads were clear). The car – the supersonic “Bloodhound” - is aiming to set a new world record and is on display at the first New Science Live interactive event at Excel, London. Well done, New Scientist; a science fair is long overdue to correct the imbalance with the many arts and computer fairs, in particular to excite and encourage the next generation of scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs.
New Scientist Live is grouped into themes of the Cosmos, Technology, Earth and Brain & Body, each with its own open theatre running an extensive programme of talks and presentations.
The Williams’ Formula 1 car, which races at a speed of “only” 200 mph is also on show, as is Land Rover’s America’s Cup BAR 20ft catamaran, with BT demonstrating their innovative digital communications, while other cars focus on a future without oil and diesel, such as the hydrogen fuel Mirai from Toyota and the electric Models X and S from Tesla, along with Shell’s exploration of alternative fuels.
Robots are everywhere, of course, with those at Imperial College being integrated with computers to create the artificial intelligence of the future, customer-friendly “social” robots from Emotion Robotics and “Graffititizer”, the brainchild of Goldsmiths’ Daniel Berio, a wall mounted robot that creates computer-generated graffiti images.
There are other universities in addition to Imperial College and Goldsmiths’. King’s College London is demonstrating the latest in forensic science and Goldsmith’s is bridging science and art with William Latham’s “Organic Art VR”, in addition to several Japanese universities who perhaps reinforce the need for the UK Government to repeat what it has done for medical science in the Francis Crick Institute in other sciences, taking the example of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST ) in Japan, a new international multi-science research university with almost half of the 500 researchers from outside Japan, supported by scholarships, housing and other initiatives.
The “Cosmos” area would not be complete without space travel and exploration including the International Space station and travel on Mars from the European Space Agency while “Brain and Body” looks at diet, growing food in innovative ways, Alzheimer’s disease and medical research at the Francis Crick Institute in St Pancras, London, along with many other research organisations. Perhaps in future years, Virgin Galactic will also join “Cosmos”?.
In the future, will two-dimensional selfies be a thing of the past? Backface uses 96 cameras to create a 3D computerised selfie that can be reconstructed by a 3D printer in a variety of sizes.
Art and Science are not only combined at Goldsmiths College. Photographs show the beauty of the natural, technical and scientific and world, while others look down on Earth from space, visitors can use their hands to recreate stone-age paintings, a giant E-Coli sculpture by Luke Jerram and commissioned by the University of Sheffield hangs over the exhibition, and sound artist Ray Lee has created “Chorus” to explore the invisible forces that are all around us,
Crucially, to be successful, the development of new ideas and inventions need the infrastructure and support provided by organisations such as Innovation UK. Sometimes they can also require a change in culture. While the Bloodhound could travel from London to Aberdeen in 30 minutes, trains in southern England seem unable to run on time or, based on experience last week, just disappear into the ether while passengers have to wait half an hour for the next one.
Putting that to one side, scientific research and innovation is essential, and hopefully Live New Scientist will grow and flourish in future years.