Up the tower and just mad about science

HEADS FOR HEIGHTS James Priory and Councillor Cheryl Buggy at the festivities launch
HEADS FOR HEIGHTS James Priory and Councillor Cheryl Buggy at the festivities launch
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FOR a festival entitled Space City, where would you have a ‘launch’ event except in the closest thing to outer space for many miles around?

So, naturally, the Portsmouth Festivities party was held up the Spinnaker Tower. And who would be there but (apparently) a mad scientist and his lady assistant?

Details of the festivities programme, running from June 16 to 26, were revealed in The News yesterday just before chairman James Priory and Portsmouth’s lord mayor elect, Councillor Cheryl Buggy, posed for photographs up the tower with a mocked-up space rocket and telescope.

Mr Priory was happy to play up to the ‘mad scientist’ image in promoting a programme celebrating Portsmouth’s role as a centre of excellence for cosmology, astronomy and space technology.

He said: ‘There are plenty of examples on television and all around us of scientists being ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

‘But there’s something appealing about the idea of the mad scientist – and we hope something of that will be enjoyed in the festivities.’

Mr Priory said one man who ‘cultivated a certain eccentricity’ was rock guitarist and physicist Mark Lewney, the Famelab winner who will give a talk showing how string vibrations might lie at the heart of the big questions about the universe.

‘He will encourage listeners to think in up to 11 dimensions,’ Mr Priory added.

He also pointed out that Portsmouth is home to engineers and technicians creating satellites and to cosmology academics exploring dark matter.

The first weekend will have a Gunwharf Quays Space Station theme with a ‘Science Dome’ planetarium allowing visitors to look safely at the sun through a solar telescope.

They will also be able to visit the Martian landscape with an authentic Mars Rover built by Astrium, which has one of its main sites in the city and is among the festivities’ sponsors.

Mike Healy, the company’s Portsmouth site director, said: ‘The Rover will one day go to Mars and because it moves it will be very popular with kids and adults alike. It’s something you can see and touch.’

n For more on the festivities programme, don’t miss The Guide in The News tomorrow.