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Science at Edinburgh International Book Festival 2017

Posted: 03 August 2017

This August, Edinburgh International Book Festival explores Brave New Words, celebrating books, writing and new ideas in the spirit of the world’s leading festival city.

Edinburgh is a city with a rich scientific tradition, where ideas and innovation have flourished from the Scottish Enlightenment right through to the present day, and this year’s Book Festival will shine a light on some amazing science, scientists and science writers…

Geneticist, broadcaster and Science Festival favourite Adam Rutherford explores our collective DNA as he presents his book A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, which suggests that DNA should be interpreted less as a human instruction manual and more as an epic poem.

Part of the festival’s 2017 Stripped series, graphic illustrator Mathieu Burniat and theoretical physicist Thibault Damour introduce their graphic novel Mysteries of the Quantum Universe. The book took France by storm and here the authors will explain why this format was able to communicate the mind-bending world of quantum physics in such an accessible way.

Theoretical physicist Prof Stephen Hawking recently celebrated his 75th birthday. At the Book Festival, Kitty Ferguson marks the occasion by introducing her stunning biography of one of the world’s greatest scientists.

Part of the BBC Brainwaves series, presenter Pennie Latin is joined by Sarah Gray, who donated the organs of her newborn son Thomas, who was born with a terminal condition, and Joanne Mullarkey of the University of Bradford Tissue Bank. Together they will share experiences and explore the critically important field of organ donation.

In our final festival pick, two writers, ­Mark O’Connell and Angela Saini, look to the future and examine how we can face up to some inconvenient truths. Saini explains her belief that science misunderstands and misrepresents women, while O’Connell introduces the idea of transhumanism, a movement which uses technology to reshape and reconsider the human machine.

Edinburgh International Book Festival runs from 12–28 August. For full programme information, visit the festival’s website at