Things to do this week: Manchester Science Festival

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.

13th October 2017
Manchester Science Festival

#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 – Manchester Science Festival, Chris Packham on his autism, and Helen Keen investigates the future of food.


Chris Packham: Asperger’s And Me © BBC

Chris Packham: Asperger’s And Me

BBC Two, Tue 17 October, 9:00-10:00pm

Broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham is one of 700,000 people in the UK who live with autism. Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in his 40s, he struggles in social situations, has difficulty with human relationships, and is, by his own admission, "a little bit weird". This deeply personal film gives us an insight into Chris’s world as he discusses whether he’d want to be cured, or whether his Asperger’s has helped make him who he is today.


Big Problems With Helen Keen © BBC

Big Problems With Helen Keen

BBC Radio 4, Fri 20 October, 11:30am-12:00pm

Comedian Helen Keen returns for a second series exploring nature’s big challenges and what we can do about them. This week, she’s joined by Jon Culshaw and Susy Kane to tackle the problem of food. How can we make sure everyone is fed? Will future meals be served in pill form? And, most importantly, what will Helen have for her tea?


Soonish © Particular Books
© Particular Books


Kelly and Zac Weinersmith, Particular Books, £20

We love a spot of crystal-ball-gazing here at Focus, so this book from geek royalty Kelly and Zach Weinersmith (Kelly is a top bioscientist; Zach is the cartoonist behind Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) has us longing for the future. The duo provide a witty, illustrated overview of 10 emerging technologies, from asteroid mining to brain-computed interfaces, by way of robot swarms, 3D-printed body parts and nuclear fusion-powered toasters.


Manchester Science Festival
© Manchester Science Festival

Manchester Science Festival

Various venues, 19 – 29 October

Billed as “part laboratory, part playground,” Manchester’s annual science festival this year includes taxidermy workshops, an X-Files-themed party and a 30th anniversary screening of RoboCop. Meanwhile, the city’s Museum of Science and Industry will open its blockbuster Robots exhibition, and the 1830 Warehouse will be transformed into a giant, climbable spider’s web made from sticky tape (pictured). Head here for the full list of events.


Smartify © MOBGEN


iOS/Android, MOBGEN, free

Smartify is a kind of Shazam for art galleries, allowing you to scan and identify artworks to access more information on what you’re looking at. Currently available at over 20 venues around the world, including eight in the UK, it also allows you to build your own collection of favourite artworks for future reference. It’s a neat idea, and we can’t wait to try it out on our next cultural excursion.

For more fabulous apps, check out our list of the top 10 science apps for Android and iOS.


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