Among the events which should enthrall visitors to the Edinburgh International Science Festival, now on in Bengaluru, is an emergency room surgery where participants get a chance to be a doctor. They are taught to carry out a blood test, remove a cyst and clean and close a wound to prevent infection. As long as a would-be surgeon is not squeamish about blood, one can have some idea about what happens behind the closed doors of the operation theatre. It isn’t only conventional surgery they will practise since they will also be allowed to use the new techniques of key-hole surgery to peep into the body to repair a knee-joint or detect gallstones using an X-ray.
Another highlight will be the interactive chemistry workshop on smells where both languorous sweet-smelling perfumes and revolting stinks can be produced. The workshop promises to help in the discovery of the science of scent which “change your emotions, make you feel sick and even make someone fall in love with you”. The festival, known as the world’s first public celebration of science and as one of Europe’s largest science fests, is expected to be attended by 50,000 visitors. Organised by Bharatiya City in association with the Scottish government, British Council and other partners, the fest intends to make science fun for young minds and promote culture, science and technology.
In a country where a rationalist has to die at the hands of fundamentalists before a law is enacted against black magic, and “witches” are set upon and burnt, the value of such events cannot be overemphasised. There is undoubtedly a need for more such occasions to spread the message of scientific inquiry and encourage school and college students to cultivate the scientific temper so that they can dispel the dark mists of superstition and blind faith in the occult in their households and in society.