Literature and Science No Longer Rivals
From Astronauts to Geneticists, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature Has It All, says Festival Director
Dubai, 16 November, 2015: If physicists have been at the core of scientific development, then writers have fuelled the world’s imagination. Would we strive for the Moon were it not for Jules Verne? Would the notion of time travel have captivated us had it not been for H. G. Wells?
These and more poignant debates await readers at the highly anticipated 2016 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, says Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and Trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and Festival Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. As a mainstay of the annual literary calendar, the Festival will focus on literature and its continuing impact on all facets of people’s lives; including literature’s impact on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industry.
Abulhoul states, ‘In today’s world, humankind is achieving the impossible, formerly matters that only existed in the writer’s imagination. What were once ideas in our favourite books has now become usable and wearable technology. It is with great pleasure that we welcome some of the greatest scientific minds in literature to our shores for the 2016 Festival.’
Space, the Final Frontier
Several generations have grown up to the sound of these words, little knowing the affect Star Trek would have on their lives. Fiction has become fact – we have probes on other planets, some heading for other galaxies and many innovators claiming that the creation of mobile devices was directly influenced by Star Trek’s technology.
Expand your understanding of space travel with astronaut Chris Hadfield, who will be making his debut appearance at the Festival. After making a splash on social media with his rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, Hadfield has published his autobiography, aptly titled An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, in which he details the immense preparation it takes not only to lift off into space, but also to live off-world and to settle back on Earth.
Closer to home, the UAE Mars Mission team will be enlightening audiences on their race against time to launch the region’s first Mars probe. The probe is set to land on Mars in 2021, to commemorate the UAE’s 50th anniversary.
Going Deeper Underground
But what about us; what about planet Earth? The Festival will be hosting panels with experts on wildlife and the ocean. Three-time National Geographic Award winner Susan Casey dives deep into the ocean to explore the hidden wonders under water. She will share her experiences swimming with sharks and dolphins.
The Festival has always put great impetus on its children’s programme, because it has been proven that attracting children to reading and literature at a young age develops their capacity for learning and for success. A number of science authors attending the Festival will be sharing their stories of becoming involved in their fields when they were still children. Zoologist Nicola Davies’ numerous picture books for children will delight the younger audiences, as will the lively and engaging Nick Arnold, whose Horrible Science series has always been a big hit with children.
The Science of Health
It isn’t just technology that science has brought to us but also our understanding of the human body. The Diet Myth author Tim Spector will delve into the destiny of our genes and the theories behind Epigenetics (the study of how external forces alter the characteristics of genes), while Baroness Susan Greenfield unlocks the potential of the brain with her latest book, A Day in the Life of the Brain: Consciousness from Dawn ‘till Dusk.
Those looking for tips on holistic living, Joe Wicks, known as The Body Coach, can help you get fit in 15 minutes. Emirati founder of award-winning Pilates studio The Hundred, Asma Hilal Lootah will also be on hand to exercise your mind, body and spirit.
For a little inspiration, meet Julie Lewis an intrepid explorer and advocate for optimal health, who has led 50 expeditions to more than 20 countries.
And let’s not forget about the importance of feeding children correctly. Mumpreneur Annabel Karmel discusses work-life balance and the nutritional value of your toddler’s meals.
Stranger than Fiction
We can still dare to dream! Festival organisers haven’t forgotten where it all started. Science fiction remains an intrinsic part of the programme. Festival favourite Noura Al Noman returns to discuss the first two books of her award-winning science-fiction trilogy Ajwan and Jenny Colgan (or JT Colgan for fans of her Dr. Who novel Dark Horizons) will talk about blurring the boundaries between genres.
Reasons to Stay Alive author Matt Haig, who has also written science-fiction books, tells us his first-hand experience of dealing with depression. The 2013 Hugo Award winner Brandon Sanderson has won worldwide acclaim for continuing Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time, not forgetting his books for young adults.
‘From brave new worlds to manned missions on Mars, there is nothing that writers from the past and present have not imagined,’ concluded Abulhoul, ‘and there seems to be nothing the world’s scientists cannot achieve.’
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