Life is for learning



Incredible science careers
Meet some inspiring scientists.

Get smart this autumn
Take a look at some of the science-y activities you can enjoy over the coming months.

Learn on your lunch
Embrace your lunchbreak and learn something new, instead of scrolling through the internet again.

Secret science
Take a peek at the best hidden science spots.

Never be fooled into thinking science is just about studying. Science is about exploring, experimenting and wondering why.

It’s standing on a hilltop on a clear night, staring at the sky. It’s dunking three different types of biscuit in your tea to find out which gets the soggiest. It’s asking: why do I dream?

If you’re the curious type, science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) might offer a way forward in your career. As the scientists and engineers we’ve featured in our ‘Incredible science careers’ section show, you can do so much more with a STEM qualification than just pore over academic papers.

Of course, if your interests have already led you elsewhere, you can still indulge a passion for discovery, even without a degree in science. Check out our listings for some of the most inspiring talks, events, apps and podcasts for everyone from the aspiring surgeon to the armchair philosopher.

And best of all, you can even enjoy some of these on your lunch break. Science with your sandwich – sounds great to us!


Think science is all about wearing a white coat? Think again…

Dr Alice Gregory

Goldsmiths, University of London

I studied...

Experimental psychology at the University of Oxford, then social, genetic and developmental psychiatry at King’s College, London.

I got into science because…

As a child, I lost the tip of a finger in a door and part of my toe was grafted onto the end of my finger. The procedure seemed miraculous and possibly kick-started my fascination with the human body, mind and behaviour.

A typical week at work involves…

Recently, I’ve been catching up with progress on a sleep research project and working with a journalist on a piece about my new book Nodding Off. Today, I fly to Borneo to give a lecture on sleep.

The best thing about my job is…
It’s a privilege to contribute to scientific knowledge even in a small way, but perhaps more significantly I’ve enjoyed supervising others who will likely go on to make important contributions.

On my bookshelf…
I, Mammal by Liam Drew
Science And The City by Laurie Winkles
Neurotribes by Steve Siberman

My favourite websites…
Technology Networks
IFL Science
The BBC Focus podcast!

Dr Steve Brusatte

University of Edinburgh

I studied…

Geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago. My PhD was in vertebrate palaeontology at Columbia University of New York.

I got into science because…

My youngest brother Chris was obsessed with dinosaurs and it was through him that I slowly, through osmosis, got into dinosaurs, fossils, evolution and science.

A typical week at work involves…

In the spring and summer, I’m usually in the field looking for new dinosaurs. During the autumn, I teach every day at the University of Edinburgh and throughout the year I manage my lab and supervise students that study with me.

The best thing about my job is…

Every day is so different and each day I have the chance to learn something totally new about the world.

On my bookshelf…

The Dinosaur Heresies by Robert T Bakker
The Ends Of The World by Peter Brannen
The Dinosaur Artist by Paige Williams

My favourite websites…
The New York Times
Washington Post
The Atlantic

Helen Arney

Science presenter

I studied…
Physics at Imperial College London. More recently, screenwriting at City University.

I got into science because…

I had great physics and maths teachers and was inspired by physicist Richard Feynman’s books, which I read under the duvet with a torch, age 12.

A typical week at work involves…

Right now I’m producing our third Festival Of The Spoken Nerd show for DVD and download You Can’t Polish A Nerd. We wrote the script and songs last year and recorded it in June, so my summer is all about video edits and admin. So much admin!

The best thing about my job is…

I make my own work, manage my own schedule and juggle the time I spend with my gorgeous toddler. See also: worst thing about my job.

On my bookshelf…

Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman! by Richard P Feynman
The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

My favourite websites…

Ed Yong
Twisted Doodle
Story Collider

Prof Brendan Walker

Thrill engineer
Thrill Laboratory and Middlesex University

I studied…

Aeronautical engineering at Imperial College, then industrial design engineering at the Royal College of Art.

I got into science because…

After my degree, I spent some time working at British Aerospace in computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnel testing. This gave me a passion for bouncing between theoretical modelling and practical experimentation.

A typical week at work involves…

I create my own experimental rides and currently I’m working with virtual reality and movement so this means spending a lot of time touring work internationally to test it with a large audience.

The best thing about my job is…

I’m not constrained by the boundaries of disciplines. I enjoy moving freely between science, technology, art and design.

On my bookshelf…

Handbook Of Psychophysiology edited by John T Cacioppo
Understanding Pendulums: A Brief Introduction by L P Pook
Prisoner’s Dilemma by William Poundstone

My favourite websites…

The Physics Hypertextbook
The Game of Life
Make Magazine

Rose Bailey

Greenhouse gas emissions expert
Ricardo Energy and Environment

I studied…

Human sciences at the University of Oxford and then environment and international development at the University of East Anglia. My PhD was in carbon management at the University of the
West of England.

I got into science because…

I studied the wrong A-Levels for science! However, my undergraduate degree made me realise I wanted an environment-focused career that was also connected to policy and society.

A typical week involves…

A real mix! This week, for example, I’ve been crunching numbers on city emissions data, while preparing for a workshop next week in Ghana to train decision-makers on how to develop a climate action plan for their city.

The best thing about my job is…

The variety and working at the interface between science and policy.

On my bookshelf…

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
Sustainable Energy Without The Hot Air
by David MacKay
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

My favourite websites…
United Nations Climate Change
The UK’s Live Air Quality
The Climate Action Tracker


Don’t spend your free time bingeing on boxsets. Get that grey matter churning at one of these events.

The Impossible Garden

Current – 25 November
University of Bristol Botanic Garden, Bristol
Mon-Sun, 10am-4:30pm, Adults £5.50 / Children free

Open-air sculpture exhibition challenging our ideas about vision and perception. Developed by renowned artist Luke Jerram, following his residency at the Bristol Eye Hospital and Bristol Vision Institute.

After Hours Victorian Surgery Demonstration

20 September
The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret, London
7pm, £12

What was surgery like before anaesthetics and antiseptics? Find out, as actors recreate a Victorian surgical procedure in a real 19th-Century operating theatre at St Thomas’s Hospital.

Life, Lines And Illusion

25 September – 21 October
Nature in Art Gallery and Museum, Gloucester
Tues-Sun, 10am-5pm
Adults £5.25 / Children £4.75

Nature-inspired exhibition featuring drawings and photographs by zoologist Hugh B. Cott, who served as a camouflage expert for the British Army in WWII.

Front-line: The Future Of Cancer

29 September
ThinkTank Centre, Birmingham
7pm, Free

Researchers share the latest advances in cancer treatments, including new gene editing and radiotherapy techniques. Plus, a chance to ask questions and hear patients talk about their own experiences.

Blood, Sweat And

3 October
University of Wolverhampton, Stafford.
6pm, Free.

Meet reptile expert Mark O’Shea, who has worked on documentaries for Channel 4 and The Discovery Channel, as he tells tales of wildlife film-making and the scientific discoveries made along the way.

Summiting The Science Of Everest

5 October
Oxford Playhouse, Oxford.
5pm, £7

Join scientist and adventurer Melanie Windridge as she shares her experiences of summiting the world’s tallest mountain and explains how science and technology contribute to feats of human endurance.

Winter Public Astronomy Evenings

From 5 October
Royal Observatory, Edinburgh.
6:30pm-7:30pm or 8-9pm
Adults £5 / Children £4

Wrap up warm for the Royal Observatory’s Friday night astronomy session, including a tour of the Victorian telescope dome and stargazing outside on the roof. See website for selected winter dates. Suitable for all ages.

Wally Funk’s Race For Space

15 October
National Space Centre, Leicester
9am, Adults £15 / Children £12

Join astronaut Wally Funk and science journalist Sue Nelson in this Q&A session. Although you’ll need to pay separately for entry to the Space Centre, tickets include a breakfast burrito. What’s not to like?


Aimlessly browsing the internet doesn’t achieve anything. Make your lunch break work harder…

Code with carrots
Grow your CSS coding skills with Grid Garden. This simple web-based game teaches you the language of web design via a virtual garden planted with carrots, which you’ll need to weed and water. Progress through 28 levels.

Solve puzzles
Play a crowdsourcing computer game and contribute to curing disease. FoldIt pits gamers against each other to fold the best proteins, helping scientists to solve the structures of molecules that are important in diseases such as cancer and HIV.

Stare into space
Spot specks of interstellar dust in samples collected from a comet by the Stardust spacecraft. Scientists need your help to search through millions of microscope images taken at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston.

Stay curious
The free Curiosity app delivers science in bite-sized chunks, in a variety of content formats, on a wide range of topics. Spend five minutes watching a video about quantum teleportation or trying to solve an ancient riddle, and still have time for lunch. For iPhone and Android.

Study medicine
Download the app Complete Anatomy for 3D interactive models of the human body to explore and assemble via smartphone. Features 6,200 anatomical structures plus expert lectures. For iPhone and Android. Full version $4.99.

Get crafty
Improve your maths and your creativity at the same time with a free paper-folding course from FutureLearn, which teaches you how to make flexagons. It’s like origami for geometry fans. Six hours over three weeks.

Take a walk
Turn lunchtime into a nature walk by taking pictures of trees and adding them to Treezilla’s interactive map. The aim is to map every tree in Britain.

Our pick of the podcasts

Can’t face anything too strenuous while you munch your lunch?
Plug in, tune out, and get smarter.

For space junkies…
The Habitat
Documentary following the lives of six fake astronauts on a fake mission to Mars, somewhere in Hawaii.

For fact fans…
No Such Thing As A Fish
The research team behind BBC’s QI shares the most interesting facts uncovered each week.

For armchair philosophers…
Waking Up
Interviews exploring questions about the human mind and society through the lens of neuroscience.

For futurists…
Level Up Human
Scientists and comedians bounce around ideas for the next stages of human evolution.



Our insiders reveal some of the best hidden spots in our cities


1. Oxford

Wytham Woods
Just outside the city lies Wytham Woods, which is a mix of semi-wild woodland and grassland that was given to the university over 60 years ago. You can apply for a permit to walk there, provided you don’t disturb the experiments.

Oxford University Museum Natural History, South Parks Road
Hidden at the back of the building is the Pitt Rivers Museum, which is crowded with fascinating items, including shrunken heads, a Hawaiian cloak made of red and yellow feathers, a lantern fashioned from a puffer fish, and a set of nested ivory balls, made from a single lump of ivory.

2. London

John Snow pub, Broadwick Street
This Soho pub overlooks the memorial water pump that’s dedicated to John Snow himself, who was an eminent 19th-Century physician and the father of public health.

The Monument, Fish Street Hill
This commemorates the Great Fire of London of 1666. Scientists Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke designed this impressive column, which is also a giant scientific instrument. The central shaft is a zenith telescope. It sits atop an underground laboratory.

3. Bristol

Clifton Rocks Railway, Sion Hill
A funicular railway dug into the rocks beside the Avon Gorge. It ran from 1893 until 1934 carrying passengers between Clifton and Hotwells. In WWII, after its closure, it was a secret transmission base for the BBC. Occasionally, the site is open for public visits.

Underfall Yard, Cumberland Road.
A working boatyard with a number of maritime-related activities. It’s a short walk away from Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s passenger steamship, the SS Great Britain.

4. Dublin

Broome Bridge
This bridge passes over the Royal Canal, and is reputedly where the Irish scientist Sir William Rowan Hamilton etched his mathematical formula into the stone. Apparently, he had a moment of inspiration and didn’t want to forget it. It was the formula for what are now known as quaternions – used as the basis for 3D graphics in computer games.

Natural History Museum.
Known as the ‘Dead Zoo’ by locals, it’s a treasure trove of creatures of all shapes and sizes. It opened one year before Darwin published On The Origin Of Species, and has some pieces that were actually collected by him.

5. Manchester

Castlefield Canal Basin
This is an area that combines bars with hundreds of years of history – Roman remains, the Bridgewater Canal (1761) and three railway lines (one now a tramway). It’s a stone’s throw from the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).

Manchester Museum
The university’s museum includes exquisite fossils from the Cambrian Explosion and brilliant jewel beetles. It’s close to Coupland Street, where Alan Turing worked in the last years of his life, where Peter Mark Roget (of the thesaurus fame) had a house, and where Ernest Rutherford, Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden showed that atoms have internal structure in 1909.

6. Edinburgh

Merchiston Tower, Colinton Road
John Napier, the father of logarithms, was a scientist from Edinburgh. His former home was Merchiston Tower.

Macdonald Armouries, Brunswick Street Lane
Macdonald Armouries recreates swords from different historical periods. It’s a great mix of history, engineering and martial arts.