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‘Where are we now?’: Science stories to unveil the evolution of galaxies

Listeners are taken on a journey to learn about the universe’s origins through storytelling and science

Around 40 adults sat in a room together for two hours pondering over their existence.   

No, that was not a social experiment, it was just a really immersive session at the Little Man Coffee Company where storyteller Christine Watkins was invited by the Cardiff University’s Science Festival Team to collaborate with two of its physicists and spread some love for learning. 

Speaking about the power of storytelling, Christine said, “I think it connects us. It is an intrinsic part of being human, it has always been with us and is a way of connecting and processing and imagining where we are and where we are going and what is the space like where we’re in, and it can work on so many different levels.” 

Storyteller Christine Watkins tells mythological stories followed by their scientific counterparts

Every issue raised at the session had an astronomical background and was looked at with a practical and a story’s point of view. The cosy environment at The Little Man and a limited number of people also added to the success of connecting with people. 

The session began by making use of mythological stories consisting of talking cows, weaving clouds, and doomed doors, by Christine and moved on to more practical aspects of latitudes, longitudes and the speed of light by Eve North. Both asking the same question – Where are we now? And answering the question – How did we reach here? 

Yashika Narula, a postgraduate from Cardiff School of Architecture said, “I was happy to attend the event. While some of the stories were insightful and caught my attention, I believe there was still a scope for them to be more scientifically aligned.” 

The other physicist and lecturer, Tim Davies also revealed his theatrical side when he gave an intense lesson using a golden watch to symbolise our existence. Using the golden watch as a metaphor, he demonstrated how it all came to be, which was symptomatic to our existence that started with the big bang.  

Physicist Tim Davies reveals their wish to conduct a session combining science and stories for a while

The room went quiet. Everyone was stunned by his comparison of human existence to a mere golden watch. He then continued to talk more about how we came from nothingness and may end into nothingness. The room stayed quiet when he further said that this cycle of existence may not be the first one for the universe. 

When combining two distinct things like science and mythological stories, Christine said, “It is unusual to us today because we are in a very specialist society that segregates things, but it’s not what the roots of storytelling is, because the root of storytelling can bring together all sorts of data and in my personal preference, I like bringing things together in surprising ways.” 

“Hopefully you reach a different audience in a different way. To get people thinking about it in different terms really gives us a way to reach people however we can.” said Mr. Davies when discussing their idea of telling stories to discuss science. 

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