Waiting for the whistle
The Festival is being moulded into its various forms - print, broadcast, online and live presentations. We'll launch very soon. In the meantime there is one big thing that has to be done. It's an annual ritual, which shakes the lethargy of Christmas out of of our brains and bones.  Yes, it's...
The printer's presses are pounding to get 90,000 brochures ready for the young people of Sussex. Over this Saturday and Sunday we must bag them up and label them, for delivery to all the schools. There's not long to go. And what we need is
Volunteers to get it all done. Without volunteers the Festival would sink without trace. All the presenters and speakers give their services for nothing; just in the cause of Serious Fun. And behind them, the volunteers and vital support.
Can you help this vital weekend? You will be fed - lunch if you're here at the right time, snacks if you're not - and you will be shown strange, magical things, (this being a science-festival head office and research lab), including some of the results of our schools workshops (see right).
Just reply to this email with 'Volunteer' in the Subject line.
Richard Wiseman.
Bets you will always win

He is 'what it says on the can' - a wise man. He's also edgy a bit, cunning a little and funny a lot. His new book, 101 Bets You Will Always Win, builds on his online fame as an explainer of human psychology. The tricks in the book are all self-working. That means, you don't have to have any special skills: the trick is done by science, and the 'magic' is in the way your victim sees it.
Here's one bet you will always win:
Ask someone to sit down, cross their right leg over their left leg and rotate their foot clockwise. Now tell them that you can reverse the direction of their foot without touching it.
To win the bet, simply ask them to draw a number ''6" the air with their right finger.

Richard's show, Smoke and Mirrors is one of several adult events during the Festival which are entertainments all the family can enjoy. Saturday February 18
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School workshops
We have begun the January tour of Sussex schools with our workshops, which are to do with STEM subjects, plus Art. The science is to do with how to balance things; the art is from Alexander Calder, who invented the mobile in 1931 - above. Our students' versions aren't up to that level yet (below), but give them time: when Calder was thirteen, he was probably rubbish.
The explanation of the the bet (left):
All limb rotations on the right side of the body are handled in the same area of the brain, on the left side. Trying to obey two opposite commands at the same time is confusing for it.

It's a great trick. It has also had enormous relevance to the design of machines. 'Ergonomics' is the science of making machines fit in with our expectations. Eg, we assume that raising a lever increases whatever we're dealing with, so things can go seriously wrong if raising a lever turns everything off, especially in an emergency. If an action doesn't suit the body that's going to do it, there can be bad consequences.

Small tricks can lead to big questions!