Eyes down as Pint of Science Birmingham brings latest local science breakthroughs to city pubs  


A quartet of scientists from Aston University will take to the stage in two Birmingham city centre pubs tomorrow, Tuesday 16 May, to talk about how our eyes reveal our vascular health, why we fail to take prescribed medicines, what’s to be done about the dramatic rise in short-sightedness and the advances in cataract surgery.

The events – part of Pint of Science, the world’s largest festival of public science talks – will see Dr Joseph Bush and Dr Ian Beasley at The Church Inn on Great Hampton Street and Dr Shehzad A Naroo and Emily Scarpello at Island Bar on Suffolk Street.

At an evening on the theme of ‘Death, taxes and myopia’ Dr Bush, a senior lecturer in pharmacy practice, will be talking about why we do not adhere to the instructions for taking medication – and the consequences this has on our health, while visiting lecturer and researcher Dr Beasley will tell the audience about why half the world’s population will be myopic by 2050.

Over in the Jewellery Quarter at ‘A future everyone can see’ Dr Naroo, a reader from the university’s School of Health and Life Sciences, will take the audience on a journey from the invention of spectacles and cataract surgery to the latest advances in sight correction. Optometrist and researcher Emily Scarpello will then give an insight into how the eye is the window to our vascular health and explain how the university’s Vascular Imaging and Research Laboratory is using unique state-of-the-art technology to assess individual risk for vascular disease.

The international three-day festival kicks off 15 May and will see thousands of scientists simultaneously standing up and telling the public about their research in over 100 cities across 12 countries. Founded five years ago by two UK researchers, the festival brings a unique line up of talks, demonstrations and live experiments to the nation’s favourite locals.

Researchers from Aston University, Birmingham City University and University of Birmingham are popping up at various pubs around the city centre, including The Church Inn, The Gunmakers Arms, Island Bar, The Platform at Millennium Point and The Woodman.

Tickets are available from the Pint of Science Birmingham website, with each evening costing only £4. Over the next three days, festival-goers will enjoy a variety of thought-provoking talks including: how the human mind works, the search for other worlds in our Galaxy, how forensic linguistics is used to catch criminals and the potential of stem cell research in the treatment of dementia. There will also be a performance by Leon Trimble, a Birmingham-based audio-visual artist who experiments with the live translation of physical science instruments who will be live-mixing data from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) into his music.

Alongside the main talks, each evening will also include a range of fun, science-related activities including live experiments, fun quizzes, geeky puzzles, engaging stories and other interactive activities.

Dr Emily Halford, former PhD student and Pint of Science coordinator from University of Birmingham, said:

“This is our fourth year of involvement in the Pint of Science Festival and this year is bigger and better than ever. We’re delighted to be working for the first time with colleagues from Aston University and Birmingham City University to put on such a wide-ranging and exciting programme of events.”

Pint of Science was established five years ago by a group of UK-based postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers. Festival founders Dr Praveen Paul and Dr Michael Motskin wanted to bring back the personal touch to science, giving everyone the chance to meet the real people behind the incredible research taking place in universities across the country. The duo are amazed by the growth of their idea into a global festival, which has spread to 12 countries around the world.

Festival co-founder Dr Motskin said: “Science can often get lost in translation, leading to the spread of pseudo-science and myths. The best way to overcome this is for people to be able to talk to scientists directly in a familiar environment, such as in a pub over a pint.

“We are in awe of how big the festival has become over the years, demonstrating the thirst there is to hear science from the source – the scientists. The festival gives everyone the chance to pick the brains of some of the UK’s most brilliant academics, breaking down barriers and giving unrivalled access to the people behind the science.”

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