From 'dognition' to DNA family secrets, the best ideas at New Scientist Live

Want to know what your dog is thinking or how to hack your way into space?

Well, at New Scientist Live some of the world’s great brainiacs are confronting some of the strangest mysteries in science. And you can hear their conclusions in a series of riveting (and accessible) public events.

We round up the boffins who’ll be giving talks at one of the UK’s leading festivals of ideas this weekend.

Get ready for your IQ to sky-rocket!

Nomad Century: The Great Climate Upheaval

Who’s talking? Gaia Vince, a science journalist who became the first ever woman to win the Royal Society Prize for Science Books with Adventures In The Anthropocene, a scientific chronicle of her journeys around the world.

The gist: Without sounding too gloomy, our species is in big trouble. Drought, wildfires and natural disasters are set to devastate our planet within the next 100 years. But before you panic, there might just be a way out – literally. This talk suggests migration is the solution and may even give us the chance to persevere.

When: Saturday, Our Planet Stage, 11.55am

The Secret Lives Of Animals

Who’s talking? Welsh adventurer, ecologist and conservationist Lizzie Daly.

The gist: The ultimate walk on the wild side, this talk looks at how tagging and tracking helps us understand the challenges facing animals like African elephants in our rapidly changing world.

When: Saturday, 3.45pm

DNA Family Secrets

Who’s talking? Geneticist Turi King, who is best known for cracking the 400-year-old mystery of what happened to Richard III through forensic DNA analysis.

The gist: Tracing royal bloodlines is one thing but just as interesting titbits about the past can be dug up by looking back in our own family trees. This talk examines developments in DNA testing and how it’s used in everything from catching criminals to finding long lost family.

When: Sunday, Mind and Body Stage, 2.35pm

Wonderdog! How We Came To Know That Dogs Are So Smart

Who’s talking? The dog-loving zoologist Jules Howard.

The gist: Ever wondered just what is going on inside your dog’s head? Although we’ve been living alongside man’s best friends for thousands of years, not much has been understood about their intelligence and emotions – until now.

It might sound barking mad but these ideas are revolutionary when it comes to the science of ‘dognition’.

When: Saturday, Our Planet Stage, 1.25pm.

How I Hacked My Way Into Space

Who’s talking? J Spooner, the director of Human Spaceflight Operations at Unlimited Space Agency. Aimed at inspiring children, their projects combine science with art and performance to create out-of-the-world experiences.

The gist: A 42-year-old hacked their way into space from a garden shed in St Albans, taking them from Houston, Texas, to rocket launches and beyond. It’s as fascinating and bonkers as it sounds.

When: Saturday, Engage State, 10.45am.

New Scientist Live takes place at London’s Excel on Saturday and Sunday and includes strands on The Universe, Our Planet, The Future and Mind And Body. Adult day tickets from £42. For more details see live.newscientist.com

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