Innovative research showcased at Cheltenham Science Festival 2023

An image of our students interacting with people visiting the Cheltenham science festival 2023

Cutting edge research from Loughborough University took centre stage at the 21st Cheltenham Science Festival last week.

Attendees learning about the mind-bending body illusions
Visitors trying out a range of mind-bending body illusions

The festival brought together some of the UK’s most respected scientists, writers, thinkers and creators, and covered a diverse array of topics including gender, mental health, faith, climate change, sport, space and the universe.

Under the Festival's theme, "Be the Change," audiences of all ages were invited to reflect on their role in shaping the future and the central place of science in this process.

Loughborough University had two interactive exhibits in the Discover Zone, welcoming thousands of visitors across the week.

Dr Roger Newport invited visitors to experience the fascinating world of mind-bending body illusions, captivating audiences by shedding light on how the mind’s perceptions of our bodies can feel very different to how they appear on the outside.

Dr Newport also joined a panel of fellow scientists to host ‘Pain: All in the Brain’, which explored what happens to the brain and body when we experience pain.

Meanwhile, Loughborough’s SlowCat team of scientists and engineers, led by Professor Sandie Dann captured imaginations with their interactive exhibit demonstrating how we might live more sustainably in a fossil fuel-free world.

Throughout the week, the team showed how – thanks to 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.

Finally, Professor of Political Communication Andrew Chadwick joined a panel of experts exploring AI-generated videos of fake events, otherwise known as deepfakes. In Seeing is Deceiving: Deepfakes, the panel delved into the technology and discussed 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, said: "I am absolutely delighted that Loughborough University has played a pivotal 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 – and it has been fantastic to see this work igniting the imaginations of visitors and inspiring future generations of scientists.”