Bloomsbury Sigma Presents



In this talk, author, blogger and TV presenter Dr Jack Lewis will take you on a whistle-stop tour of what the latest brain imaging research has to say about sin. Why do we give into the temptation of naughty but nice foods when we’re stressed? Why do people cut corners rather than doing a proper job? Why does envy make us want the worst for our rivals? Why do people cheat: whether swindling each other out of money or having affairs? Why do we lash out in anger, whether verbally or physically? Given that, for a social species like the human, our physical and mental health is vastly improved by a sense of belonging, why did we evolve so many urges that tend to drive us apart rather than bring us together? Over the centuries, various religions have tried their best to provide answers to these age old questions. Now it’s science’s turn. In Dr Jack’s new book – The Science of Sin – he raids the wisdom of the world’s best religious, philosophical and scientific thinkers to get to the bottom of why we do the things we know we shouldn’t.

16.00-16.30 I, MAMMAL BY LIAM DREW

If your first meal was milk, your first home a womb and if your ears operate by sound waves triggering vibrations in a chain of three perfectly crafted bones, this talk is for you. Liam Drew’s interest in being a mammal was piqued by a football that very painfully smashed into a uniquely mammalian attribute of his. Then, after he’d written a lengthy natural history of the scrotum – an enigmatic innovation found only in mammals but so important it was invented twice – he became a father and realised that just about every fascinating thing about human parenthood was due to his mammalian heritage. The resultant book – I, Mammal: The Story of What Makes Us Mammals – explores chapter-by-chapter why and how the features that make mammals mammals evolved. And through these he tells the story of how the first amphibious land vertebrates gradually morphed into a small furry ancestor with warm blood and a surprisingly large brain who would in turn give rise to mice, hippopotamuses, bats, buffalos, aardvarks and our good selves.


Fish are so much more than cold-hearted, unknowable beasts, and definitely deserve a second look. Join marine biologist Helen Scales as she explores the hidden lives of these clever, emotional, singing, thoughtful animals and launches her latest book Eye of the Shoal, a fishwatcher’s guide to life, the ocean and everything. Helen Scales is a marine biologist, writer and broadcaster who manages to combine scuba diving, exploration and storytelling in one job, along with a passion for protecting the oceans. She spends as much time as possible by the sea, or preferably in it. She writes books and articles and make radio documentaries, searching for stories about the oceans, the natural world and the wonders of science.


Stabbing penises, toxic vaginas, shaken tail-feathers, masturbating lizards and sperm-guzzling fish – where else could we be than Planet Earth? In this entertaining romp through the animal kingdom, naturalist and broadcaster Jules Howard celebrates the weird and wonderful, and discovers that even the most mundane creatures on Earth have sex lives worthy of turning our heads… or our stomachs. Plus, in a brand new twist especially for Wilderness Festival, one lucky audience member will be picked to try out the world’s first duck vagina virtual reality experience. Jules is a zoologist, non-fiction author, science-writer and presenter. Jules writes regularly for The Guardian and BBC Wildlife Magazine and acts as a regular zoology correspondent for UK television and radio, including BBC Breakfast, Sunday Brunch and BBC Radio 5 Live. This year his shows include Brighton Science Festival, Cheltenham Science Festival, Edinburgh International Science Festival, Wilderness Festival and The RHS’s Hampton Court Flower Show. More at: www.juleshoward.co.uk


From the ancient Greeks to twenty-first century movies, robots in human form have captured our imagination, our hopes and our fears. But beyond the fantasies there are real and fundamental questions about our relationship with technology as it moves into the realm of robotics, and with advances in technology come machines that may one day think independently. But what will happen to us when we form close relationships with these intelligent systems? Kate Devlin explores how the emerging and future development of sexual companion robots might affect us, and the society in which we live. It explores the social changes arising from emerging technologies, and our relationships with the machines that may someday care for us and about us.

18.00 – 18.30 ASK A SCIENTIST Find answers to all of the burning questions you’ve ever had about the world of science from our panel of experts! Come armed with an inquisitive mind and a healthy curiosity.