Have you noticed more scientists at music festivals these days? Here’s why they’re there.

It wasn’t that long ago that going to a music festival consisted of standing in a field watching a band on a makeshift stage. When they finished their set, you sat down in the mud until the next band came up.

Not any more. Starting in the late 80s/early 90s, music festivals really began to blossom into multi-media affairs that offered far more than just live music. And now, festivals are featuring more and more science.

Wait: science? Yes. And here’s why. This is from TheWeek.com

Sheena Cruickshank stood in front of a crowd of millennials in flower crowns and harem pants. As she paced the stage, trying to explain the intricacies of the microbiome to the audience, guitars and drum kits warmed up behind her, forcing her to raise her voice to be heard. The immunology professor wasn’t speaking in her usual venue at the University of Manchester, after all. She was at a music festival, and later that day, The Flaming Lips were taking the stage.

As researchers seek new audiences for their findings, they’re busting out of basement laboratories and stuffy hotel ballrooms and infiltrating the playgrounds where today’s curious, creative minds gather: music festivals.

Cruickshank was just one of dozens of scientists who presented in July at Bluedot, a festival in the U.K. A few months earlier, the Lightning in a Bottle festival in California had more than 30 presenters speak on science-related topics over the four-day event. In May, the FORM festival in Arizona hosted panels on technology alongside musical performances by Skrillex and Fleet Foxes.

“[Festivals are] an experiment in an alternative lifestyle,” says Jesse Shannon, marketing director of DoLab, the company that founded and organizes Lightning in a Bottle. “So that creates opportunities for conversation, considering new ideas.”

This is fascinating. Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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