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Embers into Sparx Tech Talks

Angus Rogers

Starting on Monday 23rd May, the Embers into Sparx tech talks will shine a light on six marvellous minds who have generously offered to share their knowledge, ideas and challenges with the world over six consecutive Mondays.

Embers into Sparx Tech Talks

Orkney International Science Festival Launches Pre-festival Tech Series on Lively Ideas & Pioneering People

As anticipation builds ahead of Orkney’s world-famous science festival that’s set to take place in the first week of September 2022, the team at Orkney International Science Festival (OISF) have been busy organising a series of spring and early summertime tech talks to kickstart the festivities.

Starting on Monday 23rd May, the Embers into Sparx tech talks will shine a light on six marvellous minds who have generously offered to share their knowledge, ideas and challenges with the world over six consecutive Mondays.

The goals of the series are three-fold:

  1. To get people excited about the wonders of science in the world around us
  2. To showcase the technical breakthroughs that are shaping scientific discovery
  3. To take science and technology festivals into the ‘hybrid era’ by exploring the role of virtual events to inspire far-reaching audiences

So without further ado, let’s take a look at what’s in store for us over the coming weeks.

Out of 40

Monday 23rd May 2022

7:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Two-thirds of the world’s economic activity, and 86% of its patented inventions are concentrated in 40 mega-regions. With their resources of skills, technology and investment, they are continually attracting people and resources. Does that mean that rural and island areas will become ever more on the fringe for innovation? A new idea developed in Slovenia by Dr Stanko Blatnik is for smaller and remoter locations to build up into clusters of their own, with digital links bringing them together into a creative structure. Dr Howie Firth describes the concept, and how it might work for Scotland.

Scotland in Space

Monday 30th May 2022

7:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Space technology has become a part of everyday life, and Scotland has a growing role in small satellite development, as well as new planned spaceports. Where will the first rockets be launched: in Sutherland or Shetland, or elsewhere? Will the focus always be on satellites or could a time come when humans could travel as well? Dr Matjaž Vidmar of the University of Edinburgh’s Space Innovation Hub describes the various plans and the global context of Scottish space development.

Scotland’s Lost Branch Lines

Monday 6th June 2022

7:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Virtually every Scottish branch line was swept away in the 1960s, regarded by conventional wisdom as inevitable in an era of growing affluence and rising car ownership. Among the many towns and villages across Scotland which lost their trains were Ballachulish and Ballater; Callander, Crieff and Crail; Fraserburgh and Peterhead; Leven and St Andrews. But, says author David Spaven, the case for closure of most of these lines was flawed: sensible economies proposed at the time would have allowed a significant number of axed routes to survive and prosper. And now today, he argues, in a new book, road congestion and the climate emergency are opening the way for a potential renaissance of branch lines.

He Thought Afresh About Living Things

Monday 13th June 2022

7:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Edward Stuart Russell (1887-1954) developed a new approach to biology, from a practical background in fisheries management. Born in Port Glasgow, he went from Glasgow University to a civil service career, rising to become director of fisheries with his time spent between London and Lowestoft. Under his scientific guidance, fisheries science developed and matured, both nationally and internationally. But in addition, in his own time he was researching, lecturing and writing on history, philosophy and biology and developing a radically new picture of biology: that each organism is more than just the sum of its biochemical parts. Robin Bruce, who also shares a background in fisheries and science, believes Russell’s method is timely for today. “By choice and perhaps necessity, we should re-spark his efforts in furthering biological understanding.”

Regeneration: The Rescue of A Wild Land

Monday 20th June 2022

7:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Mar Lodge Estate in the heart of the Cairngorms has Caledonian woodlands, subarctic mountains, bogs and moorland, burns and lochs, but when the National Trust for Scotland took it over in 1995 the Caledonian pinewoods were dying, the result of a destructive pattern of land use going back over centuries. Now, more than 25 years on, the landscape is regenerating and coming fully alive again. Andrew Painting, Conservation Officer at the estate since 2016 and author of a recent book, tells the story of a remarkable transformation, of the people quietly working away to help to make it happen and the many wild creatures which have inspired them. And generally, he says, if we help nature to heal, it will give back tenfold in limiting, and indeed even reversing, the impacts of climate change.

South with Shackleton

Monday 27th June 2022

7:30 pm - 8:30 pm

As an example of sheer resilience, the achievement of Sir Ernest Shackleton in the rescue of his men from Elephant Island is one of the greatest stories. Stranded when their ship Endurance was caught in ice, their only hope of survival was for Shackleton and five others to take the ship’s lifeboat on the 800-mile journey to South Georgia through massive seas and wind that froze salt spray to the deck and rigging. The 17-day voyage was followed by a climb over the mountains of South Georgia. Shackleton died 100 years ago, and the wreck of the Endurance was found earlier this year. Polar historian Dr Maria Pia Casarini tells the remarkable story.

Want to tune in?

All details for each event will be posted on this group on Community Lab. Create an account in just 30 seconds, join the group, and stay posted for updates. You can also find more details about the series on the OISF website.

This series by OISF is run in association with Community Lab's Tech Embers programme. Tech Embers is supported by the Scottish Government Ecosystem Fund in connection with the Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review (STER).

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