Cambridge Series at the Hay Festival - 26 May - 5 June 2016, Hay-on-Wye, Wales

A record number of Cambridge academics took part in the 2016 Hay Festival, one of the most prestigious literary festivals in the world. This was the eighth year running that the Series has formed part of the Festival. This year it featured a range of speakers, from experts on climate change, robotics, maternal health and risk to Classics, European politics, nuclear power, playfulness in education and digital media. The Series is part of the University of Cambridge’s commitment to public engagement. The Hay Festival ran from 26th May to 5th June 2016.

27 May, 5.30pm-6.30pm - Africa’s digital revolution: power to the people?
Can new technology bring greater democracy and allow a greater range of voices to be heard? With Dr Sharath Srinivasan, Director, Centre of Governance and Human Rights at the University of Cambridge, Rob Burnet, CEO and Founder of Well Told Story, and Marieme Jamme, CEO, blogger, technologist and social entrepreneur.

27 May, 4-5pm - All work and no play…?Could the consequences of curtailing play, in schools, at home and in the outdoors, be catastrophic for healthy child development? Join David Whitebread, Jenny Gibson and Sara Baker, experts at the PEDAL Research Centre, University of Cambridge, to explore the role of play in learning, development and well-being.

28 May, 10-11am - A journey into No-Man’s Land: exploring the boundary between mother and baby
Professor Ashley Moffett, a leading authority on immunity in pregnancy, will describe the fascinating way the boundaries between mother and baby are regulated during pregnancy - and the risks involved when things go wrong.

28 May, 1pm - Explore your mind
Are you willing to venture into the depths of your brain? Dr Hannah Critchlow will shock your senses, read your mind and explore how current neuroscience is shaping how we see our lives. Suitable for intrepid adventurers of all ages.

28 May, 2.30-3.30pm - Working memory in the here and now
Working memory allows us to hold information in mind. How does this influence our everyday lives? Professor Susan Gathercole is Unit Director at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Cambridge University.

29 May, 10-11am - Does education cause social mobility?  If not, what does?
It's common sense that the best stimulus to social mobility is education. But the facts of the last 50 years - a period of unprecedented social mobility - suggest that people may be just as mobile however much or little education they have. So what does cause social mobility, if not education?  And what, if anything, can governments do to promote it? Peter Mandler is professor of history at Cambridge University.

29 May, 1pm - Robot intelligence versus human intelligence
How intelligent (or not) are robots, is it a good thing that they can steal our jobs, and will robots ever take over the world? Dr Fumiya Iida is a Lecturer in Mechatronics at Cambridge University.

30 May, 10-11am - The strange rebirth of nuclear power in Britain
Twenty years ago the UK stopped building nuclear power stations. Why are we now planning an £18 billion French-Chinese nuclear power station? Simon Taylor is lecturer in finance at Cambridge University.

30 May, 11.30-12.30pm - The future of Europe
As support for the extremes of the political spectrum increases across Europe and Britain threatens to pull out of the EU, what does the future hold for our continent? Dr Madeline Abbas is a research associate at the Institute of Criminology, Dr Chris Bickerton is a lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies, Dr Katharina Karcher is a research associate in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Brendan Simms is Professor of the History of International Relations. Chris Bickerton's book 'The European Union: a citizen's guide' will be out in June.

31 May, 1-2pm - Literary celebrities in the 18th and 19th century
Why are readers so interested in the lives and opinions of writers? When did writers become celebrities in the way we understand them today? And what did those lucky few who acquired some souvenir or relic of their favourite writer hope to gain from it? Two Cambridge critics, Jennifer Wallace and Adrian Poole, look at the rise of the literary celebrity in the 18th and 19th centuries, the cult of the poet and the trade in literary relics.

1 June, 11.30-12.30pm - Climate: lessons from the past, options for the future
How will Earth's climate respond to rising concentrations of carbon dioxide? Professor Eric Wolff uses records of the past, including those from Antarctic ice cores, to see how climate has responded to natural disturbances in the past.

1 June, 1-2pm - Democracy: a life
Paul Cartledge, professor of Classics, on the myths surrounding ancient and modern conceptions of democracy.

2 June, 11.30-12.30pm - Fortune favours the prepared mind
The tale of a scientist, a physician, his patient and her headache. Discoveries in medical sciences follow the adage coined by Louis Pasteur, ‘Fortune favours the prepared mind.’ The minds of Professor Jim Huntington and Dr Trevor Baglin were prepared by eight years of scientific and clinical cooperation in the field of blood coagulation when a patient with an unusual clotting profile presented at A&E…

2 June, 2.30-3.30pm - What can chimpanzees and bonobos tell us about human culture?
Why do humans have such extraordinarily complex cultures? Dr Kathelijne Koops, Affiliated Lecturer in the Division of Biological Anthropology at Cambridge University, will investigate this question by studying our closest living relatives, the great apes.

2 June, 7-8pm - Planetary vistas – the landscapes of other worlds
Spacecraft have pictured other planets, in scientific vistas with artistic qualities. Towering cliffs, icy canyons – the scenery is out of this world! Professor Paul Murdin is a Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Institute of Astronomy here at the University of Cambridge.

3 June, 11.30-12.30pm - Becoming human
From a single cell to over 170 billion in 9 months, this talk looks at the remarkable development of the human brain. Dr Topun Austin is Consultant Neonatologist at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

3 June, 4-5pm - How light can improve your life
Those teeny lights aren't just for show - LEDs help us to sleep better, fight cancer, prevent identity theft, and communicate with the Internet of Things. Dr Suman-Lata Sahonta is based at the Cambridge Centre for Gallium Nitride.

4th June, 1-2pm - Sex by numbers
How often, with whom, and doing what? The statistics of sexual behaviour are riveting, but can we believe them? A Cambridge professor of statistics investigates. David Spiegelhalter is Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge.

4 June - 7-8pm - Are your genes to blame when your jeans don't fit?
We become fat because we eat too much. Why some eat more than others, however, has a powerful genetic component. Dr Yeo, Director of Genomics and Transcriptomics at the University of Cambridge, will explore some of these genes in this talk. Dr Giles Yeo will be presenting a BBC Horizon programme on obesity in June.

5 June, 11.30-12.30pm - Shakespeare and the emergence of capitalism
Journalist and economist Paul Mason and theatre director Zoë Svendsen explore the theatricality of capitalism through examining what an economic analysis of Shakespeare’s plays might tell us about character and how the human is represented. Part of a new research and development project at the Young Vic Theatre in London.

5 June, 1-2pm - The fight for beauty
In a world where too often, it seems, only the economy matters, Fiona Reynolds argues that beauty should shape our lives. Dame Fiona is Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

5 June, 2.30-3.30pm - Restless creatures
How the need to move has driven the evolution of life on Earth, and explains how humans came to be. Dr Matt Wilkinson is a zoologist at the University of Cambridge.

Also speaking from the University of Cambridge were Professor John Robb, Professor Richard Evans, Professor Tim Whitmarsh, Dr Christine Corton, Professor Gary Gerstle and Professor Jonathan Haslam.  Bridget Kendall, soon to be Master of Peterhouse, is also speaking. 

As part of the University's broadcasting contribution to the Festival, the next two episodes of Sarah Dillon's Literary Pursuits series on BBC Radio 3 will be broadcast at the beginning and end of the Festival: