Mind bending body illusions is one several activities hosted by Loughborough researchers during the 2023 Cheltenham Science Festival.

Loughborough researchers making science accessible to all at the Cheltenham Science Festival

Cutting edge research from Loughborough University will be part of the 21st Cheltenham Science Festival from Tuesday 6 to Sunday 11 June featuring hundreds of events with some of the best scientists, thinkers, writers and creators.

2023 marks the third year of the Festival’s ‘Be the Change’ theme, inviting audiences of all ages to consider their role in shaping the future, and the central place of science in this process.

The diverse range of topics include gender; mental health; disaster response; politics; faith; climate change; food; sport; space and the universe.

Guest Curators including BBC presenters Claudia Hammond and Chris van Tulleken will be focusing on everything from mental wellbeing to social change and human behaviours.

FameLab UK and FameLab International sees researchers from across the UK and the globe compete for the title of best science communicator, with each participant having just three minutes to share their research.

The Festival offers ample opportunities for all ages to engage with science in interactive zones and there will also be a free Friday Night Late for over 18s with a range of topics including Rude Science and the Science of Whisky.

Loughborough University has two interactive exhibits in the Discover Zone, which is free to access without booking and runs throughout the week:

How well do you know your body?
The way we see our own body is built from sensory signals which mean it can feel very different to how it appears from the outside. Using mind-bending body illusions, Dr Roger Newport invites you to experience how these illusions can inform our understanding of the mind’s perception of our bodies while providing practical research to help people.

How can we produce fuels and chemicals without costing the earth?
Loughborough’s SlowCat team of scientists and engineers show how we might live more sustainably in a fossil fuel-free world. With the help of special new catalysts, they are transforming biomass into fuel and many everyday items ranging from woodchip to liquid fuel, corn husk to shampoo, algae to trainers and even ice cream to bio-plastic fabrics.

On Wednesday 7 June, Dr Roger Newport hosts Pain: All in the Brain? with fellow scientists and someone who experiences chronic pain. This event explores what happens to the brain and body when we experience pain and the panel will share top tips for people living with chronic pain, including how to manage symptoms.

On Sunday 11 June, Professor of Political Communication Andrew Chadwick joins a panel of experts exploring AI-generated videos of fake events, otherwise known as deepfakes. In Seeing is Deceiving: Deepfakes, the panel will dive into the technology and discuss whether we should be worried about the threat of deepfakes on democracy and society.

Professor Dan Parsons, Pro Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation at Loughborough, commented: “I am absolutely delighted that Loughborough University are playing such a major role in one of the largest science festivals in the UK. Sharing our wonderful and impactful research and innovation with the general public is incredibly important – from discussing the latest developments in artificial intelligence through to helping to solve major issues of NetZero transitions, sustainability and recycling – our aim is to educate and encourage the public to get involved in research and innovation as well as inspire the problem solvers of tomorrow!”

Full details of the Cheltenham Science Festival are available on the online programme. General booking opens on Wednesday 25 April.