Pint of Science 2016

16/10/2015

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Pint of Science is a science festival that brings scientists out of the lab and into the pub! The concept is very simple: have local scientists share their research in the relaxed, open atmosphere of the pub, where anyone can ask questions and learn from leading experts in a variety of subjects. Topics range from neuroscience to genetics to artificial intelligence, catering to anyone with a curious mind.

Last year, the festival was bigger than ever, taking place in 50 cities. Cambridge (UK) was the first city to sell out within two weeks. It was also the only city that included an extra night to celebrate creativity by connecting scientists and artists: Creative Reactions. It was my first time as a volunteer and organiser and, despite it was hard work, it was way more rewarding and fun that I had expected!

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This year, Armando Carlone, Lorenza and I are the 3 Pint of Science co-ordinators in Cambridge, and we could not be more excited! The city is not only home to the University of Cambridge, but also has a high density of research institutions, and a cluster of high-tech companies unique in Europe (in fact it is also called “Silicon Fen”). This means that when the local scientists come to talk about their research in the pub in Cambridge, you are listening to the top leaders in their fields: you can ask them questions, and chat with them about their work while having a pint. This would hardly happen by chance!

When joining for first time last year as an organiser, I was very surprised to meet people that were extremely creative and passionate about science. The Pint of Science organisers are the key to the Festival’s great success: they have absolute freedom to decide how to run the Festival events which is truly rewarding. Recruited every year, they join one theme of their liking (Atoms to galaxies, Beautiful mind, Our body, Our society, Planet earth, and Tech me out), decide which topics they want to cover during the festival, and which scientists they want to invite. This keeps the festival fresh, as it is conceived by people passionate about a particular topic, and makes every event unique.

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The next Pint of Science will take place on the 23-25 of May 2016, but its preparations are just about to begin. As coordinators, we don’t know which talks or scientists are coming to the pub yet: that will be the organisers’ decisions. If you want to have a say in helping make it happen, we are recruiting creative and passionate people to make Pint of Science Cambridge even more extraordinary.

We are having our kick off meeting this week. This year we had an unprecedented response for volunteers, we even had to close the subscription and we may not be able to take everyone on board. It is unfortunate but at the same time so exciting to see so many people interested in the festival – And you can still write to us and get in touch if you’ve had an amazing idea!

If you would like to partner with us in Cambridge, support Pint of Science, suggest a venue or for anything else local, please, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can reach us at: [email protected]

My ambition for Pint of Science would be to reach people whom have not done any Science since school, and that almost every city would have a couple of pubs where once a year scientists and professors share fascinating stories and facts about the world.

Cambridge is an amazing city to be in as a scientist and although I haven´t been in Cambridge for very long I have been very impressed by some of the scientific buildings and venues such as the UTC Cambridge facilities (I wish I had those labs when I was in school!). And love the Faculty of Education building on Hills Road.

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As per science mysteries that keep me awake at night, I long to know more about consciousness: one of the Neuroscience’s great mysteries. I can’t wait to see what will we know in twenty years from now…

When I am not doing science activities I love cycling away from town. We recently cycled to St Ives, it was absolutely great. I am a big fan of picnicking too: good bread, a piece of cheese, wine and some strawberries and I will be oh so happy!

I guess a fun fact about me would be that travelling makes me most happy – the sense of adventure and awe when seeing things for the first time. Once travelling in Senegal with two girls, we were looking for a friend´s grandma´s house in a distant neighbourhood in Dakar. We knocked at the door, and the most welcoming smiley old lady opened the door and invited us in. She made us freshen up, served us some “touba” coffee and snacks, and started showing us pictures of her family. We had travelled for many hours so it was just what we needed. Only that it took us one hour and a half (due to my bad French, and her insistence that eating and refreshing ourselves had to be done before any talking) to realise it was the wrong house (and the wrong grandma!). Her hospitality was so natural and so warm, it felt as if we were long awaited friends.

You may also be interested in Armando’s Blog on Pint of Science, click here to read.

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