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Monday, September 7, 1998 Published at 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK


Science under the microscope

Scientists taking a closer look at their profession

Britain's biggest showcase of science is being held at Cardiff University,with 300 speakers from all over the world expected to take part.

The BBC's James Wilkinson: "Public confidence must be restored"
The theme for this year's British Association Annual Festival of Science is "The Challenge for Science" and emphasises the broad range of topics that science covers.

A government minister is telling the gathering of some of the country's leading scientists that the public has lost faith in them.

New proposals are to be presented, aimed at restoring confidence in the government's scientific advice.

It follows recent food scares, including the BSE scandal. Scientists will be discussing the lessons to be drawn from the crisis.

Aside from controversial topics, the conference will cover everything from rocks to rockets.

One session includes a look at reactions to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, to test the theory that some people seek out emotional situations.

President of the British Association, Professor Colin Blakemore: "Government must establish a ministry of science"
Professor Colin Blakemore, president of the British Association, said: "The spectacular progress of science and technology in the 20th century has transformed both our knowledge of the world and the way we live.

"But, despite its success, science has never faced so many challenges.

"Some are intellectual - understanding the remaining great mysteries of the universe, of matter, of living creatures. Some are practical - solving the problems created by new diseases, by our threatened environment, and by the growing, ageing population," he said.

BBC Science correspondent James Wilkinson examines the dilemmas facing the conference
The British Association for the Advancement of Science dates back to 1831 and is the chief organisation in the UK dedicated to promoting the sciences.

The Annual Festival of Science is Britain's oldest and largest festival of science which annually attracts some 15,000 visitors.

It was previously held at Cardiff in 1891, 1920 and 1960.

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