New Scientist Live, ExCeL Centre, London. September 2017.
Through being in the right place at the right time I made an unexpected trip to the Thursday of the 2017 New Scientist Live (sorry Natalie - hope you had a productive day in the office!)
The highlight of going on this day was that astronauts Tim Peake, Helen Sharman and Al Worden were headline speakers and giving an hour long session. Even getting to the theatre 30 minutes early for this I wasn't too near the front but this didn't matter as the stage was also shown on two large screens raised above the stage so you didn't miss anything.
The astronauts didn't give talks as such but were asked questions by various people - the host, Stephen Hawking, school children and each other - and this lead to some wonderfully relaxed chat that was nicely balanced between all three speakers (and kudos to the host who let the chat flow!).
The three talked a little of their missions and then a lot about the future of space flight and the debate whether we should go back to the moon or on to mars was fascinating as was the chat on who should go on whichever mission happens.
All three speakers had great stories to tell and also displayed a lot of humour, as ever I was very pleased to hear from a female astronaut and am very excited that Helen Sharman will be in Norwich in October so that I can hear more from her, and hopefully get to meet her in person.
After this talk I spent a lot of time walking around the show, talking to people from all sorts of science and technology backgrounds as well as listening to talks on a variety of topics. I was lucky enough to get to meet Al Worden later in the day and get him to sign a copy of his autobiography for me. I also met (and got a signed book) from Libby Jackson who is head of education at the UK Space Agency, played with robots, learned about gene manipulation and played on the science fun fair.
I've looked at the programme for New Scientist Live before and debated whether it is worth it and now I can categorically say yes and that I'm already looking for details of next year's show so that I can go again - and this time with more people, especially my nephew!