bluedot announces 2017 science programme


Following last year’s stellar debut, bluedot with ovo energy has raised the bar with the announcement of its vast science bill adding to an already impressive music line-up that features Pixies, Orbital, Alt-J and many more. 

The festival promises a journey of scientific discovery through its acclaimed Dot Talks series, interactive family science shows and the return of the hands-on Star Field with its new off-shoot, the Planet Field. 

Experts in their field will explore fascinating topics including space travel, volcanoes, climate change, spider silk, black holes, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and more.

As well as Jodrell Bank’s own Tim O’Brien, the science programme is bolstered by the BBC’s Dallas Campbell discussing amongst other things how to leave Earth, Helen Czerski celebrating the oceans of this blue planet and Chris Lintott from the Sky at Night.

Visitors will learn about the hunt for extraterrestrial intelligence from special guest Andrew Siemion from the University of California, director of the 100 million dollar ‘Breakthrough Listen’ project, and Mike Garrett, the new Sir Bernard Lovell Chair of Astrophysics at The University of Manchester.

Chris Lintott, presenter of the BBC’s Sky at Night and leading light at Galaxy Zoo, will celebrate the project’s 10th Anniversary, while his team will be on site all weekend with opportunities for everyone to join in the hunt for new pulsars and classifying galaxies. 

Also appearing is the Sky at Night’s expert astrophotographer Pete Lawrence who will look forward to the summer’s total solar eclipse and spend evenings helping festival-goers do their own stargazing.


Vinita Marwaha Madill, founder of the ‘Rocket Women’ website, will talk about her work designing space suits for the European Space Agency and the role of women in space. 

Also joining the festival is Libby Jackson, manager of the Human Spaceflight and Microgravity Programme at the UK Space Agency, who will be talking extensively on where we go next in space.

 Jodrell Bank’s Simon Garrington will talk about 60 years of science with the Lovell Telescope; Ben Stappers and Rene Breton will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Discovery of Pulsars and their colleague Sarah Bridle will explore the latest research on the Dark Side of the Universe.

Bluedot will also celebrate 40 years since the Voyager spacecraft set off on their iconic journey to the gas giant planets. 

 Monica Grady, Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences at the Open University, will review the achievements of Voyager and look forward to new voyages beyond Earth.

 There will also be a (currently top-secret) project paying homage to Voyager’s Golden Records carrying messages from humanity to “anyone” who might be out there.

Another new strand this year is challenge of climate change including the Met Office’s Richard Betts who will give an overview of the evidence and ask the question “Can we live with a warming planet?” It will also feature the Open University’s Tamsin Edwards (on fire and ice) and The University of Manchester’s Alice Larkin (on challenges to global travel). 

The popular Big Questions panel will feature Danielle George, who gave the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 2015, and Matthew Cobb, author of Life’s Greatest Secret, answering all the big science questions starting with “will we ever conquer the stars?”


The brilliant Prof David Nutt returns after his packed talk last year, to explain how the recent Psychoactive Substances Act represents a threat to scientific research as big as the banning of the telescope by the Catholic Church. 

The award-winning writer Marcus Chown, who is also cosmology consultant of New Scientist, will talk about why gravity is the weakest force in the everyday world yet the strongest force in the universe. The Amercian philsopher-sociologist Steve Fuller will talk about the life-extending technology and ask if we can afford to live forever, and Dr Sandrine Thuret, Head of the Neurogenesis and Mental Health Laboratory at Kings College London will ask if our brains can keep up with us, as the government expect us all to keep working longer as we live much longer. Helen Bagnall and Juliet Russell from Salon London will distil the biggest and boldest ideas in technology, psychology and music from 2017 into 45 minutes.

The festival is also excited to welcome Fritz Vollrath, an expert on spider silk and web engineering, Erik van Sebille, who will discuss the problem of plastics polluting our oceans, Jim Wild, presenting the wonder of the Northern Lights, Mike Burton, volcanologist and expert on Etna, Keith Jensen, who will compare the social behavior of human children and chimpanzees, and Katie Joy revealing how to hunt for meteorites in Antarctica.
In the hands-on Star Field and Planet Field, festival-goers will be able to take part in live experiments and science discussions on topics ranging from the brain to bees, glaciers to the galaxy’s magnetic field. More details, including some amazing exhibitions and a family programme designed for all ages, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Science Directors, Professors Teresa Anderson and Tim O’Brien, said: “It’s very exciting to be hosting bluedot at Jodrell Bank again this year. We’ve put together a fantastic science line-up that alongside the music and other culture gives bluedot its unique eclectic atmosphere. We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone to another amazing festival.”

 Full weekend camping tickets are now on sale and start from £149 outright cost or a £27.33 payment plan.