Next monday, the 26th, I'll be giving a talk at the Manchester Science Festival (Manchester UK, that is). A year or so ago, on British TV, there was a series of programmes with titles such as "Ten things you didn't know about volcanoes," "Ten things you didn't know about earthquakes," and so on. It seemed to me that not only were these titles rather patronising to the viewer, but that the programmes, although entertaining, failed to convey the excitement of science. After all, what keeps scientists enthusiastic, and what keeps science going, is what WE don't know. And there's an awful lot in that category.
So I decided to talk about how even an apparently humble material has its mysteries, and illustrates a variety of areas of scientific enquiry. The talk is, of course, intended to entertain, and so I'll be stirring the occasional frivolity and magic trick into the mix, but think about it: granular physics, coastal and desert dynamics, meanders, meiofauna, Mars, Titan...... My challenge (as always) is what to leave out. The talk will be at Blackwells bookshop, 6.30 pm. And Jan Zalasiewicz, whose provocative book, The Earth After Us I've written about earlier, will be talking on tuesday evening.