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Maths at the Edinburgh Fringe

Every August a multitude of comedy shows, theatre pieces, interpretive dance performances, musical extravaganzas and spoken word events spring up all over the Edinburgh Fringe. As a busy mathematician (there are infinitely many integers; who has spare time?) I’m sure you’ll appreciate our guide to which of those things are mathematical, or have a tangential (LOL) relationship with mathematics. Please note: none of these are recommendations, as we haven’t seen the shows and mainly have been grepping the word ‘maths’ in online programmes.

This year pickings are slim – quite a few mathematical Fringe regulars are having the year off – but there are a couple of shows which have maths as a definite theme:

Kyle Evans - Born To Sum posterKyle D. Evans – Born to Sum

Mathematician, maths teacher and UK FameLab champion Kyle Evans is taking his maths/folk/comedy music show to Edinburgh, and will be performing his trademark mathematical songs.

The New Maths Magic Show

Self-proclaimed ‘Mathemagician’ Jason Davidson performs another of his family maths magic shows, suitable for all ages.

Skeptics on the Fringe: Enlightening the Fringe

The Edinburgh Skeptics have put on a whole month of talks on different topics, although sadly only one of them has a maths theme (and that’s because it’s literally me, doing my Mathematical Life Hacks show on Thursday 24th August).

I’ve also found a collection of things which aren’t mathematical, but definitely involve science in some way and you may enjoy them. Here’s their programme blurbs and ticket links – enjoy!

  • Katy Brand: I Could’ve Been An Astronaut (comedy)
    Katy Brand explores her amateur and somewhat improbable love of astronomy and her crapness at maths in this follow up to last year’s hit show I Was a Teenage Christian.
  • Kevin Quantum: Anti-Gravity (magic)
    Impossible illusions and levitations brought to you by the magician-scientist hybrid tutored by Penn & Teller. Having spent half of his adult life studying physics and half studying magic, Magic Circle member Kevin explores the exotic space where science and magic meet.
  • The Amazing Bubble Man (magic)
    Louis explores the breathtaking dynamics of bubbles, combining comedy and artistry with audience participation and enough spellbinding bubble tricks to keep everyone mesmerised.
  • Baba Brinkman’s Rap Guide to Consciousness (rap, comedy)
    Fringe First winner and “peer-reviewed rapper” Baba Brinkman (Rap Guide to Evolution, Rap Guide to Religion) explores the scientific study of consciousness in his latest hip-hop comedy. Baba’s brain consists of roughly 90 billion neurons with trillions of connections, and none of them has any clue that he exists. And yet those cells come together to produce a steady stream of ill rhymes, laughs, and mind-blowing scientific findings. Come and find out how.
  • Alice and the Black Hole Blues (theatre)
    This world premiere devised theater piece imagines that Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland falls through a black hole and meets five visionaries who challenge societal assumptions about women and science. Hypatia, Marie Curie, Vera Rubin, Rosalind Franklin and Lise Meitner prove that even through you cannot see it, it does exist.
  • Edison (theatre)
    The life, career, and brutally stolen dreams of mastermind Nikola Tesla culminate in this genre-bent play, sponsored by one of the biggest a-holes in history, Thomas Alva Edison. Featuring Tesla: troubled genius and brilliant inventor, and Edison: cunning businessman and crook, Edison brings to light this true story based on the life of the original electrical wizard.
  • Ensonglopedia of Science (music, comedy)
    A song about science for every letter of the alphabet. Expect atoms, big bangs, cells, DNA… Expect the unexpected. And expect it to rhyme. (Katie says: full disclosure, my mum once gave me a flyer for this guy because he was doing a show in Heywood and she thought I might like it. I never went.)
  • Doctor Google Will See You Now (talk)
    Your supermarket knows when you’re pregnant; Google knows what medical conditions you have; Facebook could help your doctor diagnose you. What if Google sent a record of your search terms to your doctor to notify them of likely health conditions? What if Facebook sent an alert to midwives when pregnant ladies posted photos of them drinking alcohol or smoking? Join Mhairi Aitken (University of Edinburgh) as she discusses how this information could be used and have your own say on what should remain science fiction and what should become reality.
  • Dr Data: The Answer to Cancer (talk)
    Data is everywhere. From diagnosis to treatment to recovery, a patient’s cancer journey leaves a data trail. What if the answers we seek about cancer are hidden in there? It could help us refine diagnosis, select treatments and improve the patient experience.
  • Measuring Humanity (talk)
    Someone smart once said ‘if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist’, so Marisa de Andrade (The University of Edinburgh) is out to measure humanity! Join her as she pushes academic boundaries on her mission to measure health and inequalities through creativity and connectivity. Is there such a thing as hard-to-reach communities? Is there only evidence where there’s money to be made? How do you measure soft touchy-feeling things like compassion and relationships – and should researchers be doing this anyway? Can you prove that acting helps you stop smoking, or that 3D virtual reality landscapes beat depression?
  • Physics vs Psychology: Which is the Hard Science? (talk)
    The year is… not important; this is fiction. But Susan, the last secondary school student on Earth, is deciding what to study at university. Physicist Helen Cammack and psychologist Kate Cross (University of St Andrews) are here to do battle for Susan’s soul. Should she pursue physics, the study of the universe? Or psychology, the science of the mind? Is there a hard option and an easy option? Susan needs you to come along, ask hard questions of our two scientists and help her choose her path…
  • You Don’t Matter (talk)
    You’re completely insignificant; just one out of 7 billion people on planet Earth, orbiting just one star out of 100 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy, just one galaxy out of 100 billion galaxies in our observable universe. And our universe is likely just one universe in an almost infinite number of universes where everything can and will happen. No longer should you waste time worrying about life’s indecisions, because in one universe, somewhere out there, you’ll have made the right choice. Catherine Heymans and Joe Zuntz (University of Edinburgh) will be your guides.
  • The Principle of Uncertainty (theatre)
    Dr Laura Bailey knows how to explain to everyone counter-intuitive double slits experiments or the paradox of a cat in a box which is dead and alive at the same time. She believes the equations that tell her unequivocally of the existence of a myriad of different universes, but when faced with a crucial event, science falls short of showing her a way out.
  • 1 Woman, a High-Flyer and a Flat Bottom: Samantha Baines (comedy)
    Award-winning comedian Samantha Baines (The Crown, Sunny D, BBC Radio 4) returns to Edinburgh after a smash-hit, sell-out run in 2016. This year she’s exploring the lost women of science. Expect facts, puns and an ear trumpet attached to a whiskey bottle.
  • Double Dome Nights: Dark Side of the Moon – the Full Dome Experience
    Double Dome Nights is showing a combination of two films from Dynamic Earth’s spectacular bank of out of this world 360-degree immersive experiences. Inspired by the music of Pink Floyd, this dome spectacular features the 1973 ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ album in explosive surround sound.
  • Scottish Superwomen of Science – Minerva Scientifica (music)
    2016 Fringe award-winner Frances M Lynch returns, celebrating breakthroughs by Scottish women scientists in genetics, geology, computing, engineering, astronomy, marine biology, mobile phones, etc. Musical drama featuring new sounds fashioned from traditional and classical songs by Scottish women composers, some co-created with women scientists for Minerva Scientifica.
  • Wanna Dance With Somebody! Or, A Guide To Managing Social Anxiety Using Theoretical Physics (theatre)
    Josh is good at dancing, but not at people. Is the hokey cokey really what it’s all about? Josh doesn’t know, but he’s damn well going to find out. A new show about social anxiety, about coping mechanisms, about big ideas and how they impact on small things. About taking chances. And about dancing. Mixing storytelling and physical comedy, Running Dog Theatre create a show that is part physics lecture, part dance lesson and part school disco.

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