See science come to life at this year’s Royal Society Summer Exhibition

15 June 2016

How do we clean up the junk that’s whizzing about in space threatening to wipe out the satellites we need for communication? Can a human tumour be built in a lab? What kills more people each year than malaria, tuberculosis or breast cancer? How can the same technology used in the hunt for gravitational waves revolutionise bone grafting therapies?

These are just a few of the intriguing questions that are set to be answered at the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition, 5 – 10 July 2016.

A stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square, at our home on Carlton House Terrace, the Royal Society will highlight the diversity of scientific ingenuity and creativity in the UK by bringing together researchers from a range of scientific disciplines and institutions under one roof for six days of free science fun. Visitors have the opportunity to meet the scientists and ask any questions they may have about the research on display and what it’s like to be a scientist.

This year there are 22 exhibits with something for everyone to explore and enjoy.For curious kids and families, discover the secret life of birds and quiz daredevil scientists who investigate erupting volcanoes. For tech fans there’s a surgical robot that helps surgeons translate 2D scans into 3D images so that they can operate with precision – visitors can meet the doctors using this tech and have a go at performing ‘operations’ on fruit. Nature lovers can find out what we can do about tackling plastic waste in our oceans, and how we can all help to make weather predictions more accurate. And space fans can speak to researchers who now know more about the Big Bang than ever before, explore a galaxy in virtual reality, and find out why there’s so much junk in space and what we can do to clean it up.

The special late night adults only Summer Science opening – Twilight Science – is back again on 4 July (6 – 10pm). It’s an opportunity to get a sneak preview of the exhibition over cocktails; hear from Dr Robin Carhart-Harris talking about testing LSD on human volunteers to find out what happens to the brain and whether it might open doors to new types of therapy for illnesses like depression; and Dr Liz Tunbridge talks on the mind-altering effects of alcohol. It’s also a chance to put on your dancing shoes and get in the spirit for a science-themed ceilidh!

As well as the opportunity to visit the exhibits and meet the researchers, this year’s programme of talks and activities covers everything from drop-in activities and creative experiments in the Kids’ Zone to science comedy with Science Showoff. There is also the opportunity to hear directly from two scientists who were part of one of the most exciting science breakthroughs of the year – the first direct detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. And with driverless cars already being trialled on UK roads, come along and quiz the experts taking part in a panel discussion on the ethics of driverless cars.

For art lovers, Meristematic is an exhibition of digital and sculptural art works exploring plant growth and decay. Artists exhibiting include Anders Hoff who writes algorithms generating images that replicate behavior in nature; ceramicist Tamsin van Essen’s study of beauty and decay in the collection Vanitas Vanitatum and Macoto Muruyama’s exquisite digital botanical diagrams.

The Summer Science exhibition is free and runs from 5 July – 10 July, with a special late night, adults only opening on 4 July. Please check our website for opening hours.