October 9, 2012
Wellcome Trust Screenwriting Prize
We were asked to entertain their guests at the first annual Wellcome Trust Screenwriting Prize awards ceremony last night, for an evening of cocktails, schmoozing, and science.
Donning our finest black and pink threads, we greeted each of the 200 guests with a selection of mental canapes:
pieces of origami (owls, rockets and gorillas), each containing a provocative question (“Are humans special, or just clever apes in fancy clothes?”), statement (“There are more possible connections between the neurons in your head than there are atoms in the universe.”) or bit of trivia (“Salted owls were once employed as a cure for gout.”)
Guests were treated to medicinal cocktails: gin and tonic (which historically would have contained quinine which prevents malaria, as well as having analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties), and bitters and lemonade (bitters having been originally devised as as a cure for sea sickness and other stomach maladies).
Food scientist Rachel Edwards-Stuart joined us with the Flavour Feast, a cornucopia of treats that help reveal how what we think of as a single sense – taste – is a truly multisensory experience.
Roaming the crowd: Silas Burroughs, blackmarket purveyor of fine ‘cognitive enhancements’, proffering a range of illicit treats promising improved mental ability, emotional augmentation, or the complete erasure of an unpleasant memory.
And, to cap off the evening: a stellar session of DIY Alien Contact. Guests were invited to scribble out a message to life on other planets, which we will broadcast out to space using a radio transmitter.
Astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell was on hand to help explain what we know about what life could exist on other planets, what our chances of ever finding them are, and why we might want to bother reaching out in the first place.
Congratulations to Al Smith, winner of the 2012 prize! As well as receiving a £20 000 cash prize to develop his idea to first draft, the Wellcome Trust will connect them with world-leading scientists and to help identify commercial partners and producers.