This is the second in a series of blogs from the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Myself and six other bloggers will be writing about the event during the fortnight.
I have a confession to make: I have zero interest in competitive sports. So it is a testament to the lure of the Edinburgh Science Festival that last Tuesday I attended a presentation on the science of athletic performance.
How High, How Far, How High was given by Dr Yannis Pitsiladis and Professors Dave Collins, Ron Maughan and Andy Jones. In the lecture they covered - respectively - the genetics, psychological, nutritional and performance extremes of modern athletics. The psychological aspects were especially fascinating - who would have thought that you could convince trained weight-lifters to increase their performance by up to 10%, simply by telling them you were giving them steroids (instead of the sugar water actually administered)?
Each of the scientists gave a short presentation about their own field and then the evening moved onto a Q and A session.
This turned out to be very exciting; there is something very special about listening to four experts debate their individual approach to wrestling information from nature. It was like having a personal ticket to the cutting edge of scientific research.
In many ways, for me, this evening’s talk encapsulated what the Science Festival is all about: It confounded my expectations, I learnt a lot about a subject I hadn’t previously though much about and it left me feeling exhilarated, wanting to know more.