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New Scientist Live: Inside the world's best science and tech festival

FROM the very large to the very small, from inside your body to the furthest reaches of the universe, there was a smorgasbord of ideas and discoveries to explore at New Scientist Live, the world’s biggest and best festival of science and technology, on 7 to 9 October.

We heard from Alice Roberts on archaeology, Hamza Yassin on wildlife filming and Tim Gregory on meteorites, as well as talks on psychedelic drugs (see “Psychedelic health claims may be promoting risky self-medication”), the birth of galaxies (see “JWST should soon glimpse the very first stars born after the big bang”) and predictions about which of the greatest scientific mysteries will be solved in the next century.

In between talks, visitors could be hugged by a selfie-taking robot, take a Formula E race car for a virtual spin round the track or have a huge stick insect clamber over their face. They could even visit Mars – kind of. That is, they could take in an enormous, revolving, softly glowing model of the Red Planet, built by UK artist Luke Jerram, while learning how to drive mini Mars landers and repeating NASA studies of Martian soil.

There were plenty more ways to get your hands dirty, including building air-powered model trains and learning coding to control NAO, a knee-high robot with some slick, Gangnam Style dance moves. Other life skills to tick off your bucket list included microscopy, flint knapping and building a dug-out canoe.

For a mind-blowing finale on Schools’ Day, thousands of children heard from astronaut Andreas Mogensen in a live link-up with the International Space Station about what it is like to live – and do science – hundreds of kilometres above Earth. Mogensen talked about the downsides of space station life, from missing family to drinking recycled urine, as well as the upsides, like looking down on shooting stars. “When you go to the window and look down at our beautiful planet, you’re just awe-struck,” he said.

For another dose of awe-inspiring science at next year’s show, held on 12 to 14 October 2024, tickets are now available at super early bird rates.

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