The Story Collider

It’s no secret that next week I’m hosting a series of events for Manchester Science Festival. But what you might not know is that I’ve been asked to speak at an event.

On science.

Yes, me. 

I don’t know either. Whilst I work in science, I am a bit of a cuckoo – I have no degree, no science education past GCSE (which I got a B for in all three sciences, so I’m not a complete dunce). But still, I’ve come to science through the back door really. Unlike those I’m speaking with.




But what is the Story Collider?

It’s a series of stories, all around 10 minutes long each, which are simultaneously recorded for podcast, all of which feature science as the theme. Some stories are nostalgic, some pluck at the heartstrings, some are funny, but the important bit is that they are all true, and they are all in some way or another, all about science.

And my fellow storytellers have very impressive biographies. 

Sam Illingworth is our host. Sam is a lecturer in Science Communication at MMU. So Sam’s speciality is actually expressing science to others. Helping scientists to talk to ‘normal people’ (you and me) about science in a way that we can understand, rather than walking away wanting to skill ask the question…. But why?

The tales themselves come from four storytellers.

Simon Wheatcroft – Simon is, aside from being from Doncaster (which I have a vast fondness for, no matter what anyone says, because it’s where my family is from), is truly incredible. Visually impaired, he lost his sight at 17, he uses technology to do things that I can (currently, stupid broken foot) only dream of. He started running. And running. He ran his first race seven months later – a 100 mile road race.

His story is incredible. And proof of how even the toughest circumstances can be overcome 

Aravind Vijayaraghavan is a scientist and one I’ve known personally for a number of years, as we both worked in the same School at the University of Manchester for around 4 years before we’ve both moved to slightly different areas. I could probably waffle about the headaches he caused me in research administration, but I won’t. Instead he will talk at the event about science outreach.

Russel Garwood also works at the University of Manchester, but specialises in palaeontology – and specifically the use of x-ray imaging to study changes in physiology – so how one creature evolved into another, how they developed specific physical attributes to deal with their ever changing environments. To say I’m looking forward to his talk would be an understatement 

And, well, there’s me. I’m not sure what I’m going to write about, but after 16 years in a science environment, I’m pretty sure I can think of something. I’ve worked for such a wide range of people, in diverse areas – an advisor to the NHS, one of the most senior female computer scientists in the world, and now two Nobel Prize winning professors. There’s a story there somewhere. 

I hope.

I’ll maybe see you there? I’ll be the terrified bunny on a stand with a bunch of academics. 

The Story Collider takes place on Tuesday 25 October and ticket are £8 each. Further details can be found here. 

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