Manchester is intertwined with scientific and technological discovery, and this year that is recognised across a series of multimedia events both celebrating the city’s heritage of computer and atom splitting pioneers, and propelling the sector into the future of graphene and beyond.
Cross-pollination between science and popular culture has long been evident in the city, so being awarded the 2016 badge as European City of Science naturally fuses with a variety of events and creative pursuits. It translates as the opportunity to host Science in the City, featuring 40 free events from 22-29 July at 70 Oxford Street (formerly Cornerhouse), as well as numerous other activities and shows, such as a Science Slam at the Town Hall, microbiological art, scientific poetry and a performance by the Robot Orchestra, whose instruments are made from recycled materials. All of which are aiming to make science accessible to all, while those at the forefront of scientific discovery put their heads together at the EuroScience Open Forum conference taking place at the same time.
It’s the latest nod in a sequence of accolades for the city relating to the sector. In 2015, Manchester hosted Graphene Week in celebration of the material comprising a one-atom layer of carbon, which was first developed by scientists at the University of Manchester. It’s been a jewel in the city’s crown for over a decade and the week included a musical crossover as Levenshulme-based songwriter Sara Lowes composed a six-part instrumental piece based on her experiences learning about the material.
Having performed the composition at the Martin Harris Centre, she’ll reprise the performance at this year’s Bluedot festival on the same site as the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank, a festival created with funding support from the EuroScience Open Fourm and featuring a diverse programme from the wisdom of Prof Brian Cox on the Infinite Monkey Cage and a melding of rocket science and comedy by Helen Keen, to the ambienteering soundscapes of Jean-Michel Jarre and Brian Eno.
The Museum of Science and Industry will also get in on the act by hosting Wonder Materials: Graphene And Beyond, running for a year from 23 July, 2016. It will include a special Brighter Sound residency for Anna Meredith, who’ll work with emerging musicians from 18-21 July, with the results of their collaboration premiered on 27 July. The venue’s 10th annual Science Festival is also due from 20-30 October.