New Scientist Live 2017

The ExCel convention center in London was the host of this year’s New Scientist Live Festival from September 28th until October 1st. The four-day festival featured high-profile speakers and exhibitors discussing topics ranging from colonizing outer space to mental health.

Many speakers discussed the role that science can play both in treating and preventing mental illnesses. Robin Carhart Harris, a neuroscientist and psychologist, discussed the reasons for the first clinical trial on magic mushrooms to treat depression. Robin Carhart-Harris explained how the magic mushrooms worked and the effects of the treatment.

Rosalind Picard is the founder and director at MIT Media Lab of the Affective Computing Research Group. She discussed her ongoing SNAPSHOT Study, which examines how everyday behaviors and social connections can affect sleep and mood. The company is developing models based on data collected from 170 participants at colleges to help predict and prevent the onset of stress and sadness. Picard says, “Aff,ective Computing is not about creating the best machine, it’s about improving people’s lives.”

Another key theme of the conference was science. Heston Blumenthal spoke about his psychology-inspired food approach and how food can capture emotion and memory. Heston Blumenthal, British chef and mastermind behind a restaurant, said of his psychology-inspired course to food, arguing that food has a unique power to capture memory and emotion.

Kevin Whelan is a dietician and researcher who discusses the effects of food at an individual level. He explains the science behind the microbiome, a microbe ecosystem in the body. It is already exploring the microbiome, the new frontier in personalized medicine and diet. He discusses the impact of our diet and genetic makeup on the microbiome and how it may affect obesity and diabetes.

The connection between science and the creative process was obvious, as several prominent speakers discussed the impact of technology, sound, and genetics on their creative process. Simon Fisher, a geneticist, was joined by Hobbit on stage to explain how we can use complex and extreme languages. Rick Edwards and Michael Brooks from the podcast Science(ish) discussed Hollywood movies and their science, celebrating how they can make difficult scientific, ethical, and moral conversations accessible to all.

Wayne McGregor, a multi-award-winning choreographer, demonstrated the creative power of DNA sequencing in his latest project, Autobiography. This performance is based on McGregor’s genetic code. McGregor’s complex process was shown by ten dancers on stage, inspired by cutting-edge science and technology. On Sunday, Margaret Atwood, a renowned author, took the Main Stage to discuss how science is incorporated into her writings, including themes such as genetic engineering, climate change, and drug development.

New Scientist Live also featured a number of speakers who discussed the evolving industry that has brought in a variety of new companies. On the first day, astronauts Tim Peake and Helen Sharman shared their space experiences. Paolo Nespoli also answered questions in a video call live from the International Space Station. The Italian astronaut explains how the focus is shifting from building space stations to finding a permanent way to live in space.

Louisa Preston, a Birkbeck University of London astrobiologist, spoke about what makes Mars an attractive option for human travel and habitation. Markus Landgraf went so far as to imagine a space elevator that could take humans to the moon. He explains how modern nanotubes could make the idea a reality for the first since it was conceived in 1895.

Sarah Cruddas, a space journalist, summarized this theme by sharing the projects set to redefine the space age. She discussed everything from Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, astronaut clothing, and space mining. Who owns space in the race to commercialize it? Dr Jill Stuart is a space policy researcher who shared her research about how to govern and regulate space.

New Scientist Live offers a variety of speakers, themes, and exhibitors that can provide brands from all sectors with a great opportunity to learn about science and be excited about the future. The speakers were all high-profile and forward-thinking, exploring the latest innovations in each industry.

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