Culture24/7: A scintillating Science and Nature selection box to round off your 2012

By Ben Miller | 03 December 2012
A photo of a darkened art gallery being approached by a woman under glinting lights
Catch Winter Sparks at Liverpool's FACT this month© Alexandre Burton

At the end of another eye and mind-opening year in Science and Nature, it seems fitting that table-tennis, gnomes, molluscs and probabilistic reasoning all play a part in our final picks of the year. If you're anywhere between Cornwall and Newcastle, try one of these...

Centre for Science and Philosophy, University of Bristol, Bristol, opens December 4

The University of Bristol has officially been home to this centre since last year. But this is the formal launch of it as a public forum for events and activities discussing the ethics and social and political issues surrounding science and research.

Four brainy heroes talk about biology, quantum gravity, consciousness and (deep breath) probabilistic reasoning at the launch. Reserve a free ticket if you’re round that way.

Winter Sparks, Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool, from December 13

Sorry to say it, but there’s an outside chance you’re Scrooge incarnate if FACT’s playground of Tesla coils, pendulums, electric sparks and reactive installations leave you cold.

Director Mike Stubbs has curated a show featuring Canadian artist and composer Alexandre Burton, Dutch artist and academic Edwin van der Heide and Spain-based Bosch & Simons, not to mention a table-tennis table you can “hack” to produce various samples and sounds while you play.

Sigune Hamann: Wave, Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester, from December 13

In which German-born Hamann photos various previously unsuspecting figures performing a salutation, then neatly brings them all together in an installation of movement.

The twist, naturally, is the story behind them: joy, heartbreak, friendship and curiosity filter across the spectrum. A wave machine with a heart.

“Hurrah For The Dredge!” - The Jeffreys Mollusca Collection, National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, from December 15

John Gwyn Jeffreys sounds like an interesting and interested guy. Born in Swansea and trained as a barrister, he swapped suits for wetsuits in a bid to exhaustively examine and amass molluscs during the 19th century.

Amgueddfa Cymru's Biodiversity Department reveal a bit more about a collection which remains a benchmark for modern scientists.

Christmas Star, Life Science Centre, Newcastle

Sparked by the star which led the three wise men to a certain fateful stable, this planetarium show ponders the night sky 2,000 years ago.

Was it a meteor shower, was it a comet? It might even have been a supernova or a planet. In any case, the possibilities make for spectacular viewing.

Arctic Gnomes, Eden Project, Bodelva

In a creative response to the depressing creeper that is global warming, the middle of Cornwall’s Eden Project has been invaded by 1,000 ice gnomes, slowly melting over a six-week period.

Visitors are being asked to make a prescient pledge – turning the heating down, eschewing the standby button etc – in support of these melting midgets. Kids might even get to take a bit of the installation home.

All Other Things Being Equal, The Manchester Museum, Manchester

The relationship between man and environment has always been a complex one, but it’s especially non-symbiotic in Ecuador where, rightly or wrongly, trees are often valued more for their economic worth than the vital biodiversity they uphold.

In this exhibition, scientist and photographer Johan Oldekop reports back from three years of research in South America, offering photographs, sound, socio-economic data and specimens from the museum’s natural history collection.
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