Science Question Time is a brilliant feature of the festival where three or four speakers take time out from participating in their own session or chilling out in the green room to answer the public’s questions. I’ve been to two of these sessions now and they’ve both covered vastly different topics. The topics covered depend partly on the specialties of the panel but are also largely dictated by the interests of the audience as this really is your chance to ask the scientists anything. Tuesday’s session covered the robotics of warfare and the ethics of using drones to attack human soldiers, the cyclical nature of science reporting (apparently even the journalists are aware that they write the same stories year on year) and the factors involved in life expectancy.
Today, Question Time was chaired by Mark Lythgoe, director of both UCL’s Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging and the Cheltenham Festival. The discussion focussed more on the ethics around enhancing human biology and also the politics of science. The guests on the panel were Andy Miah, Professor of Ethics at the University of the West of Scotland, Mark Henderson, science editor for the Times newspaper, and Steve Haake, Professor of Sports Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University.