Nobel Prize winner John Gurdon will be one of the star attractions at this year’s Cambridge Science Festival – which features Sherlock Holmes star Benedict Cumberbatch as its Guest Director.

A festival of this range and accessibility is a hugely important bridge between the public and science

Benedict Cumberbatch

The Festival will also feature Radio 2 DJ and author Simon Mayo and comedians Robin Ince and Matt Parker – who will attempt to prove the seemingly impossible, that mathematics can be hilarious.

Bookings for the Festival, which takes place from 11 to 24 March, opened this morning with more than 200 mostly free events for the public to choose from. Family fun days are on 16, 17 and 23 March and there are talks for young people and adults throughout two weeks.

Meanwhile, Professor David Spiegelhalter will suggests ways to help detect the naughty numbers in the news with his talk on ‘shabby statistics’ and the science of immortality will be discussed by Aubrey de Grey, philosopher Stephen Cave and biochemist Guy Brown with input welcomed from their audience.

This year’s Guest Director Benedict Cumberbatch has helped shape some of these events and has chosen some personal favourites that reflect his career, personal interests and friendships with Cambridge scientists.

Benedict Cumberbatch said: “I’m delighted to be the Guest Director of the 2013 Cambridge Science Festival. I believe science and our engagement with it has reached a crucial crossroads. Whether it’s fighting disease on a cellular scale, tackling climate change, solving food and energy crises, exploring the outer regions of the universe or simply making it easier to shop online – science and technology play an increasingly integral part of our daily lives.”

“And yet to the layperson like me, the intellectual and ethical complexities and technical detail can often seem daunting and distancing. Hence a festival of this range and accessibility is a hugely important bridge between the public and science.”

For more information including the latest event updates and to request a copy of the programme please visit: or call: 01223 766766.

Other highlights of the 2013 Cambridge Science Festival include:

The future of energy

Across the boundaries of academic disciplines, energy researchers are working toward a more sustainable future. But what does that future look like, and what possibilities exist for reaching that goal? Tim Radford, former Science Editor at The Guardian, will chair this panel discussion with Cambridge researchers Richard McMahon, Julian Allwood, Emily Shuckburgh and Tony Roulstone around challenges in sustainability –technical, intellectual, behavioural and political – and recent developments in energy research toward meeting these challenges.

Focusing on ADHD

Poor concentration, hyperactivity and impulsivity are common in people with ADHD. These symptoms may be distressing and cause difficulties in daily life, but what causes them? How can they best be treated? This Brain Awareness Week discussion panel includes Professor Barbara Sahakian, Dr Ulrich Müller and Dr Sam Chamberlain.

Challenging the price of drugs

Why does developing drugs cost so much? Why does it take so long? What’s the difference between branded drugs and a generic? In a panel discussion with Professor Gerard Evan and Sir Gregory Winter amongst others, these dilemmas can be pondered and a fundamental understanding of drug development can be gained.

Sciencelele singalong with Helen Arney

Bring your ukulele or just your singing voice to a fun family show that mixes singalong songs with science experiments. Join geek songstress Helen Arney and her trusty scientist side-kick, Michael Conterio, as they explain how hot you’d get by ‘Walking on Sunshine’, which genes make up a ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, when is the next ‘Blue Moon’ and why do we ‘Dream a Little Dream’ at night? Don’t forget, you’re part of the show too! There’ll be chords to play along and words to sing too, so get ready to take part in the first ever Sciencelele singalong!

The evolutionary Olympics

We spend a large part of our waking lives moving from place to place, but how we do so rarely gets a second thought. It is all too easy to miss the fact that we are locomotory machines of dazzling sophistication. But that’s not all. We are the way we are thanks to our long evolutionary history, and if we look at this history closely enough, we see that the need to move around (and get better at it) has been life’s guiding light almost from its origin roughly 3.5 billion years ago. From photosynthesis to sex, our brains to our breathing, we owe it all to life’s Olympic spirit. Join zoologist Matt Wilkinson on an unusual tour of the living world, and find out why learning to move was one of the most important things that life ever did.

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