In The Beginning... In the Beginning ......Stories from the Science of our Origins

Lead Research Organisation: Scottish Storytelling Centre
Department Name: Storytelling

Abstract

Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.

Publications

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Title Audio Recording of the Science Presentation 
Description This is a recording of the lecture with musical accompanment from Norman Gray at the Scottish Storytellling Centre. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact Public engagement and education 
URL https://soundcloud.com/once-upon-a-universe/sets/once-upon-a-universe
 
Title Booklet of Once Upon a Universe 
Description A short booklet, that contained the 13 chapters of history of the universe, 13 stories in response, and illustrations, including a front cover illustration by the Austrian artist De Es. 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact About 40 copies of the booklet were sold, mainly to members of audience of the edinburgh event. A publisher was never approached, but this may be attempted in the near future. 
 
Title Illustrations for Once Upon a Universe 
Description Images that relate to different chapters of the history of the universe 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact Helped to visualise the metaphors that were created to help explain the science 
URL http://onceuponauniverse.com/thestories/
 
Title Stories from Once Upon a Universe 
Description The creative stories that arose from metaphors of the history of the universe were turned into a performance, booklet, and published on a website. 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact Audience members appreciated the stories, the booklet was bought by about 40 people, and the website has had about 8,000 views in total 
URL http://onceuponauniverse.com/thestories/552-2/
 
Description We discovered that there is a huge amount of detailed science about the history of the universe that is not known to the general public. We found that it was a great challenge to 'make sense' of this complex science. However, we managed to develop a narrative with a good amount of detail that explained the crux of these events in non-scientific terms.

This narrative was then re-interpreted in creative writing, and a series of short stories and poems were created that related to each of the 'chapters' of the history of the universe. An event and a small book was created to present these stories and simplified science.

It was discovered during the event that there was a strong interest and engagement by the audience in the subject area. The question and answer session went on for almost an hour. All the feedback received was positive.
Exploitation Route There are many ways in which to creatively represent the events of the universe, without recourse to mind-boggling numbers and esoteric nomenclature. The clear narrative we developed would help to inspire other creative projects.

We would like to take this project to a wider audience by turning it into a short animated film. This is currently the subject of a STFC large awards application.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Other

URL http://onceuponauniverse.com
 
Description The project has had its biggest impact through the website http://onceuponauniverse.com. It was added to the wikipedia page 'chronology of the universe', and has had 8,000 views to date, with the majority of visitors viewing several pages on the site, which indicates that they are engaging and reading through the story. The results of the project also have the potential to be developed into an animation, which we hope will have a far wider impact (500,000 + views)
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Other
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description Once Upon a Universe 
Organisation Royal Observatory Edinburgh
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My role within this project was to enable and participate in the collaboration between astrophysicists and creative writers, whio created the creative content as well as a clear explanation of the science
Collaborator Contribution One astrophysicist came from the University of Glasgow, the other from the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, and the Scottish Storytelling Centre helped to source creative writers as well as provide a venue for the event.
Impact The astrophysicists in the workshop both said that they greatly enjoyed responding to their knowledge / areas of research in a creative way, and very interesting things came out of it. It also sparked an interest in the science with the writers who were involved in the project, not to mention the audience and all the visitors to the website.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Once Upon a Universe 
Organisation Scottish Storytelling Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution My role within this project was to enable and participate in the collaboration between astrophysicists and creative writers, whio created the creative content as well as a clear explanation of the science
Collaborator Contribution One astrophysicist came from the University of Glasgow, the other from the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, and the Scottish Storytelling Centre helped to source creative writers as well as provide a venue for the event.
Impact The astrophysicists in the workshop both said that they greatly enjoyed responding to their knowledge / areas of research in a creative way, and very interesting things came out of it. It also sparked an interest in the science with the writers who were involved in the project, not to mention the audience and all the visitors to the website.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Once Upon a Universe 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution My role within this project was to enable and participate in the collaboration between astrophysicists and creative writers, whio created the creative content as well as a clear explanation of the science
Collaborator Contribution One astrophysicist came from the University of Glasgow, the other from the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, and the Scottish Storytelling Centre helped to source creative writers as well as provide a venue for the event.
Impact The astrophysicists in the workshop both said that they greatly enjoyed responding to their knowledge / areas of research in a creative way, and very interesting things came out of it. It also sparked an interest in the science with the writers who were involved in the project, not to mention the audience and all the visitors to the website.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Girls Allowed! (on-campus event) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Workshop Facilitator
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A total of 90 girls and their teachers attended one of three one-day events held at Brunel University. The girls were all GCSE and A-level students and the aim was, via presentations, activities and a Q & A session, to encourage them to consider continuing to study Physics at A-level and beyond.

From data collected from the first two events, about half of the girls said they were more likely to consider continuing to study physics as a result of participating in the event. Although data from the most recent event has not yet been analysed properly, one of the teachers who attended reported that her girls were generally much more positive towards the idea of continuing to study physics after coming to Brunel.

The University is also now considering embedding Girls Allowed! into its broader communications strategy, which may result in University funding becoming available to support it.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014
 
Description Once Upon a Universe - re-telling the story of the universe through metaphor, poetry and easy-to-understand language 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 6 creative writers and 2 astrophysicists took part in a two day workshop in Galloway Astronomy Centre (which is also a B and B), to get to grips with the science of the big bang and development of the universe, and create stories that explained the events in new ways. In two days, we created a substantial amount of work as a group, and took our stories home for fine-tuning.

A small event was held in Whithorn, in Dumfries and Galloway, which was attended by 15 people, and a larger audience of 100 people came to the live lecture with musical accompaniment and readings in the Scottsih Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. The main theatre at the storytelling centre was full to capacity, and there was a queue outside, which showed that the promotional materials worked and the nature of the event sparked public interest. After the presentation by professor Norman Gray of the chronology of the universe, and readings of creative responses that related to the parts of the history of the universe, there was a question and answer session, which went on for almost an hour. It was incredible to see how engaged and interested people were, and there were plenty of laughs at some of the more baffling concepts.

The website has so far had more than 8,000 views. By looking at the statistics, it can be seen that the majority of people who visit the site are look through more than one page per visit. Because each page is a different chapter on the site, this means people are engaging and sequentially reading through the story of the universe.

The event had great feedback. Here are some example quotes: "a very stimulating presentation which has motivated me to find out more" - "I personally realised I would like to study astrology and cosmology further as these ares are a real blind spot in my understanding" - "I don't think I could have read a book or been to a lecture and been more captivated"

A small book of the story of the universe was created, which was split into two halves. The first half gave a clear description of the different stages of the evolution of the universe, which was broken down into 13 chapters. Each chapter had a corresponding illustration drawn by Magda Boreysza. In the second half of the book, each of these 13 chapters was responded to, either by short story, haiku, poetry, or other piece of creative writing

The website http://onceuponauniverse.com was created, with all the stories published and audio from the live event in edinburgh accompanying each chapter. It has a stable link at the bottom of the wikipedia page about the chronology of the universe, which provides a constant stream of viewers.

There is a plan to develop the project to the next stage, by turning the scientific narrative with musical accompaniment into a short, animated film. This is the subject of a current Large Awards grant application to the STFC (November 2014)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014
URL http://onceuponauniverse.com