Go to a music festival. Get drunk. Dance like a crazy person. Fall over. Get muddy. Eat rubbish. Pass out. Wake up in a tent with a naked stranger. More drinking, dancing and merriment. Go home. Then try to work out how the hell you understand superstring theory and the mating rituals of the Arctic Turn…
If a new and interesting trend takes off, the above scenario could be a possibility.
I’ve seen my fair share of festivals, and I love them (although my experiences are usually a lot tamer than the opening paragraph). There’s a wonderful atmosphere and you get to meet a huge number of eclectic, interesting people. Despite the weather, you still have an awesome time, do stuff you wouldn’t usually do and generally have a wholesome experience (but avoid the temporary loos, never a good time, especially on day three).
But now there could be an additional twist to the festival scene. A group of science students could be descending on the party to teach science. You what?
Guerilla Science brings unconventional forms of science entertainment to music festivals. An independent organisation founded by Oxford chemistry graduate Richard Bowdler in 2007, it puts on science-themed talks, live experiments, installations, art, films and performances at music festivals across the UK.
In their own words: “We want you to taste a brain made of cake, spy the moons of Jupiter, dance to fractals, hunt for the Higgs, and ponder how utterly astounding it is that you are reading these words at all.” — The Guardian
It’s funny, I remember back to my days as a university student, and a biology friend of mine was convinced that the human brain absorbed more information if you were drunk in lectures. I never tried this tactic, but I knew people who did and had trouble staying awake. So, from this side-effect alone, I’d say the theory was flawed. However, if her theory was correct, this whole Guerilla Science thing could be an incredibly potent way to teach science… to a drunken crowd.
I personally think this is an awesome idea. It’s a grass-roots effort to communicate science in a relaxed and fun scene, quite a nice attraction for those who want to chill out during the day, listening to an enigmatic scientist getting enthusiastic about science and nature.
As I was saying in a previous post, there is a growing public-science gap; perhaps we can bypass the media by having more projects like this at live events, communicating advanced science concepts into a general crowd. Let’s put it this way, it can’t hurt.