Edinburgh International Science Festival 2016 focuses on making a better world

Cutting edge music from Evelyn Glennie and Jill Jarman, new theatre from Rob Drummond, and chocolate might go extinct – wait, what?

We thought that'd get your attention. The Edinburgh International Science Festival announces its 2016 programme, and one of the featured events is a talk by Prof Paul Hadley of the University of Reading about how chocolate, or 'solidified happiness' as it's known around this office, is in danger of going extinct within a few years. Well, think about it: the Chinese have developed a taste for the stuff, the world is starting to prefer cocoa-heavy dark chocolate over cocoa-lite milk chocolate, and climate change has been messing with the harvests, with the result that, for some time now, global demand has exceeded supply. Fortunately, Prof Hadley and horticulturists like him all over the world are working to prevent the nightmare scenario, and he'll tell you all about their efforts at an interactive event on Sun 4 Apr.

The 2016 festival, which takes place from 26 Mar–10 Apr, has a focus on making a better world. There are 272 events spread across several venues in the city, and one of the aims is to show how science doesn't operate in isolation but can be at its most helpful and creative when it meets the arts. As Festival director Amanda Tyndall says, 'It is through collaboration with their creative cousins that we stand the best chance of innovating and securing our future', and to that end there's a good deal of music, theatre and art: Dame Evelyn Glennie makes her EISF debut on 30 Mar in Jill Jarman's new music piece The Sounds of Science. Rob Drummond's Uncanny Valley is a new play for children about artificial intelligence, and it appears in a double bill with Lost at Sea, based on the true story of how a shipping container losing its cargo of thousands of bath toys helped scientists map sea currents. Both are at Summerhall.

The Tiny Homes Village is a large outdoor installation examining the changing styles of our homes and how small buildings may be the solution to the housing problems of the future. Elsewhere in the built environment strand, Lego (sorry, Lego®) artist Warren Elsmore is building a Mars habitat out of everyone's favourite plastic building bricks, as part of Mars Master Constructors, a free kids' brick-building mission running throughout the Festival, and if anything's got the power to tear the little squirts away from Minecraft, it'll be this.

Those who were sad when Pluto got demoted from 'planet' to 'dwarf planet' status will surely have rejoiced at the recent announcement that there may be a ninth planet after all. Iwan Williams, who during his time at the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto in the first place, is talking to astronomer and Pluto-booster Robin Catchpole on Thu 31 Mar about poor wee Pluto, its ongoing status and what if anything's going on with this putative Planet Nine.

The Edinburgh Mini Maker Faire at Summerhall features an appearance from model hobbyist Lee Towersey. With his friend and fellow model builder Oliver Steeples, Towersey built a working model of Star Wars's R2D2 which so impressed Force Awakens producer Kathleen Kennedy that she hired the duo to build and operate the R2D2 model featured in the recent movie. The 2016 Reading Experiment is the biggest yet, with 28 events exploring what happens when science and reading meet.

The full programme is available on the EISF website.

EISF tickets go on sale from 11am on Tue 9 Feb. Book online at the website, phone 0844 557 2686 or in person at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe office, 66 High Street.

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