Blessed are the geeks, for they shall inherit the earth
Some of the finest scientific minds in the land gathered in the Cheshire countryside this weekend to debate space and time and to stimulate their collective cerebral cortex with some banging tunes.
The second annual Bluedot Festival welcomed thousands of science and music enthusiasts who spent three days camping out under stars and planets they could actually name, before basking under the sun and the shadow of the giant Lovell Telescope, to enjoy a family friendly, stellar line-up of music, science, arts, technology, culture, food and film.
Jodrell Bank Observatory and the surrounding fields were temporarily taken over by five stages for live acts, street food stalls, pavilions for talks and workshops, and an arboretum for relaxation and reflection; as well as a fire, sound and light installation.
There were also various science marketplaces where young children could visit the stalls to have a go at a range of simpler scientific experiments and illusions, such as how to stick a wooden skewer into a balloon without popping it and how to make wind-powered rockets. Star Wars loving Padawans could join in on a 30-minute Jedi training session and younger kids could enjoy a bedtime story with a difference: a pop-up cinema experience showing a live puppet performance of Back To The Future.
The packed programme included high-brow talks from headline keynote speakers and leading scholars, to more accessible debates. DOT TALKS featured an array of quick-fire lectures and panel talks in which leading researchers tackled the universe’s biggest topics and debated matters such as 'why you should believe in the big bang', 'where is all the antimatter?' And 'what’s next for humans in space?'
Headline music acts included Boston’s indie noir legends Pixies on Friday night (whose song Where Is My Mind? was once played on the surface of Mars), seminal dance outfit Orbital on Saturday night and Leeds-based art rockers alt-J, who closed the show on Sunday. Manchester-based poet Tony Walsh aka Longfella, roused the daytime crowd on Saturday afternoon with his poem This Is The Place followed by Hannah Peel performing with Tubular Brass, a brand new full brass band working their way through the score of Mike Oldfield's multimillion-selling classic Tubular Bells.
Many festival-goers fully embraced the scientific theme by dressing up for the occasion. Bluedot saw an abundance of silver lamé, glitter beards, planet-themed deely boppers and neon wigs - we even spied someone wearing a pair of leggings displaying the periodic table of elements.
If the sights and sounds of the festival became too much, there was the opportunity to join the consistently hour-long queue for the giant luminarium – an inflatable womb-like sculpture with labyrinthine tunnels and dodecahedral domes where people could be immersed in radiant light and colour.
Bluedot was an intergalactic festival of music, science, arts, cosmic culture and the exploration of space. Early bird tickets (both for camping over the three day duration and day tickets) for next year’s festival of discovery in 2018 will be available from discoverthebluedot.com in the coming weeks.
Bluedot Festival, Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, UK, Earth 53.2363֯N 2.3071֯W