/ 4 March 2016

An international affair at Scifest Africa 2016

National Geographic emerging explorer
National Geographic emerging explorer

Scifest Africa features content, speakers and shows from across the globe. At this year’s festival, the British High Commission in South Africa has sponsored two lectures, by two very talented women from the UK. 

Science demonstrations are at the heart of any science festival, and are one of the most effective ways to engage a variety of audiences in science in any setting. 

The official opening lecture at Scifest Africa 2016 will be presented by the physicist Wendy Sadler, founding director of Science Made Simple in the UK and regular contributor at Scifest Africa. 

In her lecture she will reflect on how science communication and science festivals are building bridges between the public and scientists and how it is changing the world. Sadler’s opening lecture Demo to Democracy: How Science Communication Can Change The World takes place on Friday March 4 at 6.30pm in the Monument’s Guy Butler Theatre. 

Searching for fossils, ruins or artefacts in unstable, hostile and disputed territories may be arduous, but scientists should never have to give up for security reasons.

Ella Al-Shamahi, a National Geographic emerging explorer, discusses this as part of the lecture series this year. Al-Shamahi is an archaeologist, palaeoanthroplogist and comic. 

Most of her work takes place in the beautiful but unstable country of Yemen, her family’s country of origin. Here her team is trying to find and excavate caves inhabited in the Paleolithic period. She covers her finds can tell us about Neanderthals, why she thinks that perhaps early humans did not migrate from Africa as scientists think, what challenges archaeologists face in unstable areas and the excavation and preservation of fossils, ruins or artefacts, as well as and how stand-up comedy helps her cope with the darker side of her work. This lecture, titled Fossil Hunting in Yemen: Exploring Early Human Migration and Neanderthals in Unstable Territories, takes place on Monday, March 7 at 6.30pm in the Monument’s Olive Schreiner Hall. 

Other attractions from the UK at the festival this year include Dr Stephen Ashworth, from the University of East Anglia, who will present the science show Kitchen Chemistry: Seconds, which will showcase brand new dramatic experiments. The Bloodhound Project will showcase the Bloodhound Supersonic Car, designed to travel at a speed of 1 690kph. The UK is one of six countries represented at the festival this year; the others are Australia, Germany, India, Switzerland and the US.