Below is a listing of events for the first four days of the 2nd Edinburgh International Science Festival. Any further information about ticket prices, concessions and bookings can be obtained from the Science Festival Box Office (031 226 5138).

The rest of the festival will be covered in the next issue of The List.


I Science. Culture, and The Making otBeer Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre,

Castlehill, 7.30pm, £1 (50p). Dr Geoffrey Palmer traces the rather protracted biotechnological pursuit of the perfect pint, and invites his audience to sample 15th century style ales and beers.

I Symbolic Roles and Rites ot Wine Royal Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, 2.30pm. Jean Arrouye from France will be talking about wine in Provence.

I Hubble Bubble- What Toil and Trouble in the Pot Queen Margaret College, Clerkwood Terrace , 339 8111. Dr Andrew Mackie gives an account of the public analyst‘s work in food contamination.

I Exotic Foods with Contuslng llamas-The Role oi Fungi in the Diet Royal Botanic Garden, lnverleith Row, 7.30pm, free. Dr Roy Watling describes the gastronomic extravaganza that mushrooms and their relatives can provide, and warns of the dangers of poisonous fungi.

I Medical Marvels Mountbatten Building, Grassmarket, 7.30pm, free. Dr Ron James will explain the genetics and techniques involved in layman‘s terms,

Reports oI close encounters with tlylng saucers, bug-eyed green aliens and giant sprouts lrom outer space have generally been taken with more than a pinch oi salt, but astronomers believe it’s likely that there are other living inhabitants at our vast universe. In ‘The Search Ior Extra-Terrestrial Lile’ (Wednesday 4 April, see listings) Archie Roy, tormerly a professor at Glasgow University, will describe our eltorts to resolve the mystery. He believes we should continue the search for tile even within our Solar System - and that Mars is the place to look.

Previous spacecratt landings have lound the Martians to be a little elusive, but there Is optimism that the manned expeditions planned by the Americans and Russians within the next fifteen years may tlnd evidence ol lite. ‘It's important to search tor lite on Mars simply because even it we lound a little piece at moss or lichen, it would be enough to tell us that tile had started on other planets, and is theretore almost certainly ten-a-penny throughout the universe.‘

Despite its heavenly name, Venus, our other neighbouring planet, is closer to a recreation oi hell. The planet’s scorching sulphurous heat is a result oi an atmosphere composed almost entirely oi the gases which are now producing the greenhouse ettect on Earth. ‘It’s conceivable that lite once existed on Venus. The runaway greenhouse ellect there, is perhaps a


salutory warning to us all.’

Farther away, the signs oi aliens are more dilllcult to detect, but any technological civilisation living on a planet orbiting one ot the several dozen stars closest to the Sun will know we are here because tor the last thirty to torty years, strong radio and television signals have been moving straight out from the Earth into space. ‘II there‘s a technological civilisation about thirty light-years away,’ says Roy, ‘lt’s picking up the iirst episodes oi Coronation Street.’

Roy believes they will understand our messages because any other civilisation is almost certain to be more advanced than us. ‘It the universe were one year old, then our last tour centuries ot science would have

occupied halt a second in that year‘. An I

allen society is likely to have had enough time to colonise the whole galaxy; they should be walking down the streets of every country In the world. Are they hiding from us or do they not get past the critical point In evolution when technology leads to destruction?

Perhaps they‘re just not very impressed with Coronation Street, but their own equivalent may soon receive our critical attention. Roy believes It may soon be possible tor our radio telescopes to detect the electronic ‘pollution’ oi other clvilisations In the universe. (Hazel Muir)

before looking at the results achieved so far, and the prospects for the future.

I Science and The Rain Forest Royal Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, 12.30pm, free. After raising the rain forest issue in the House of Commons,Tam Dalyell MP was invited to the Altimera Rally of the Amerindian People of the Xingu River in February 1989. He describes what has been done to protect the world’s rain forests, and how these measures could increase the world's food

. supply-

I Ilse ol Technology in Bird Conversation Mountbatten Building, Grassmarket, 12.30pm, free. Dr Green from the RSPB describes some of the secrets of high-tech bird watching.

I Controlled Exploitation: The How Flavour 0i Conservation Mountbatten Building, Grassmarket, 2.30pm, free. Ranching some of the world's rare breeds could prove a viable alternative to banning trade in threatened species and their products. Dr Richard Luxmore explains.

I Space Exploration and Exploitation Mountbatten Building, Grassmarket , 2.30pm. Dr Garry Hunt shows how the value of space exploration since man landed on the moon has been exploited for everyone‘s benefit.

I The History ot Scottish Tartan Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre, Castlehill, 4.30pm, £1.50. Dr Gordon Teal of Teallach, Chairman of the Scottish Tartan Society talks about a famous aspect of Scotland’s heritage.

I Patrick eddes, The ‘Creen’ Pioneer Architecture Department, 20 Chambers Street, 7pm. Dr Helen Meller will talk about the life and work of the ‘Father of Ecology‘.

I Dealing Willi Disasters Royal Overseas League, 100 Princes Street, 7.30pm. Dr Helen Haste addresses the issue of whether being sensitive to the environment makes us more responsible and able to take effective action in the wake of a disaster.

I The Rural Economy and the Environment Royal Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, 10.30am, free. Prof B. Dent addresses the issues and takes a crystal ball to look at farming, land use and the environment in the future.

I How Many Bugs in the Heather Moorlands? Mountbatten Building, Grassmarket, free. Dr M.B. Usher explains how ecological change in the uplands may be threatening the birds’ diet.

I Remote Sensing in Australia Royal Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street. 5.30pm. The Australian climate varies enormously from year to year with periods of drought interspersed with heavy summer rains. Dr Graham Harris explains how remote sensing is used to manage resources in this environment, and in the face of ‘global change‘.


I Four Centuries of Scottish Brewing Tradition Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre . Castlehill, 2pm, £1 (50p). Dr Ian Donnachie will review the development of the brewing industry from craft to mass-production.

I A History of Brewing in Edinburgh Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre, Castlehill, 2pm, £1 (50p). Charles McMaster covers the brewing industry in Edinburgh from the introduction of the art of brewing by the monks of Holyrood in the 12th Century to the industry as it stands today.

I Geology and Wine Royal Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, 2.30pm. Professor Jake Hancock looks at how geology influences the quality and quantity of wine produced in different areas.

I The History ot Scotch Whisky and aTasting ol Malt Whiskies Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre, 7.30pm, £3 (£2). lan Buxton reveals the mysteries of malt whisky


. ,. c‘ 3‘4! or“ 'Sfi‘ . fining

ll somebody were to compile a list ol overused scientitlc buzz words tor the Eighties, then superconductivity would appear tairly high upon it. Despite promises that it would revolutionise, amongst otherthlngs, power transmission, the only evidence most oi us have seen oi it are laboratory demonstrations oi weird and wonderful physical phenomena.

Prolessor Donaldson ot the Unlveristy ot Strathclyde’s department ot Pure and Applied Physics, sets out to explore some at their actual uses, and the possibilities tor the tuture, starting, oi course, with what superconductivity actually is (4 Apr, see listings).

Superconductivity can be used in large-scale electrical engineering projects tor the transport oi power, and also the storage ot energy in large magnetic lields. This can be easily demonstrated by a superconducting magnet producing a large field without external power sources. The energy held in this lield can be released in a controlled way, with many uses in relation to the storage and transmission ot power.

On a smaller scale, Protessor Donaldson has a demonstration ot SDID’S (possible buzz word tor the Nineties) which are used to detect magnetic tields in the human body. Whetherthis entails members ot the audience swallowing lumps ot superconductor, I am not sure, but luckily this technology is only used tor cardiology research at present. Other uses tor small-scale semiconductors include the development ot more powerful computers, although this will not be tor some years.

This promises to be an excellent general lecture in a lascinating tield which is at the cutting edge of science. It will be well supported by a series oi demonstrations supplied by Dxtord Instruments, so that the audience can witness tor ltselt some of the strange phenomena associated with this area at research. (Steve Foulger)

first; “.13 -. e 3+-..

production and its origins.

I Modem Soil Fruit Royal Botanic Garden, lnverleith Row, 7.30pm, free. Dr Peter Waister describes the production and cultivation of the popular Tayberry. I Eating The Pain Away Queen Margaret College, 36 Clerwood Terrace, 5. 15pm. Maryon Stewart takes the nutritional approach to curing pre-menstrual tension. I Sewage Treatment Mountbatten Building, Grassmarket, 10.30am. A brief history of sewage treatment and an up-to-date picture of the latest developments in this field are given by Dr Michael Heap.

I The Stripper and the Pulsar Royal Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, l0.30am. Prof B.D. Witney describes some of the changes that technology has brought to agriculture.

I The Lazy Chemist’s Analytical Tool Mountbatten Building, Grassmarket, 10.30am. Prof John Monaghan addresses the issue of how, because of drug abuse in sport, and increasing environmental

76 The List 23 March 5 April 1990