Things to do this week: The 21st Century Race for Space

Looking for the best things to do this week? Don’t waste away being bored on the sofa… here’s our pick of ways to exercise your grey matter and nourish your neurons.

2nd September 2017
Professor Brian Cox in the Virgin Galactic hanger in Mojave, CA. © BBC/Sundog Pictures/Tom Beard

#BrainFood brings you the best shows on TV and radio, science apps and books to activate your mind, and fun events to visit. This week – understand the science of smell, go for an algorave and discover how preparations for the 21st Century space race are going.


The 21st Century Race for Space
BBC Two, Tue 5 September, 9:00-10:00pm

Last century’s space race pitted the USA and the Soviet Union in an effort to get to Moon and back, but now nation states have taken a back seat and are letting companies like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic take the lead. But will space exploration be the preserve of the rich and famous, and can we rely on it to save the human race? Brian Cox takes us on an inside tour of the companies reaching for the stars.


A snail © Getty Images
© Getty Images

Natural Histories

BBC Radio 4, Tue 5 September, 11:00-11:30am

Snails, love them or loathe them (if you’re green-fingered it’s probably the latter), they’re one of the most distinctive animals on the planet. And the subjects of this week’s Natural Histories do a lot more than just nibble your plants and leave slimy trails. In fact you might be surprised just how much respect we should be giving these slow-moving molluscs.   


The Smell of Fresh Rain  Barney Shaw, Icon Books, £14.99
© Icon Books

The Smell of Fresh Rain

Barney Shaw, Icon Books, £14.99

Freshly-mown grass, wood smoke, seaside air… smells have an uncanny ability to unlock emotions and memories. In his first book Barney Shaw puts his nose into the science of smell, intrigues the olfactory senses and creates a 200-item thesaurus of scent. Certainly one not to be sniffed at.


British Science Festival

British Science Festival

Brighton, various venues, 5-9 September

This year the British Science Festival rolls into Brighton, so bring a beach towel if you want to join in the festivities. In the illustrious history of the event, the term ‘scientist’ was coined and the ‘dinosaur’ named, so who knows what could be in store this year? Well, everything from talks about the science of freezing your eggs to an “algorave”.



A Comet’s Journey

iOS/Android, Alternative Controls, free

Comets can have such a serene life floating through the Universe, but when it comes to staying in orbit there are a mind-boggling amount of factors that make the different between a lifetime of celestial sailing or crashing into a sun. A Comet’s Journey is a beautifully simple game where you try to launch a comet into orbit around various objects – and it’s a real challenge to avoid Armageddon!   


Follow Science Focus on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and Google+