Science Slam: “Klima Special”

Ready for a time travel? Foto: Olha Kuzmyn

Ready for a time travel? Then just follow Kilian Eichenseer. Foto: Olha Kuzmyn


“Science? Oh, no. Probably I shouldn’t continue reading this article”. But if you really do this, you’ll miss a lot of interesting things like time travel, football and David Guetta. What do they have in common? – Science Slam that took place at E-Werk on December 8 and which you probably missed. While in Paris during the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference countries were negotiating the new agreement about reducing climate change, here in Erlangen we had an opportunity to do something similar. Six talented young scientists gathered in one place to talk about science and how it can improve this world and make everyone a bit more eco-friendly.

As usual, (because no one canceled the rules of a slam) each speaker had 10 minutes to present his/her idea. As usual, the audience was responsible for time management and evaluation. The latter was made in small groups, where every person could say their opinion and give two grades: for science and for slam (i.e. entertainment). The highest grade was 10, the lowest, 1, but no one was that cruel. And now the most interesting part – the host of the event! Just a joke, now let’s talk about the participants.

  1. Time travel

It was Herbert Wells who described time travel in a book; it was Kilian Eichenseer from Erlangen who made the audience actually travel in time. We went back to the era of dinosaurs and discussed how the climate has changed since then. In the last 60 years, the global temperature has increased by about 7 ⁰C, which is much more than in the past 1,000 years and this is really striking. What I liked about this speech is the style of the speaker. He was wearing old-fashioned goggles and a jacket and everything was stylish. What I didn’t like is the beginning, because only near the end of the presentation I figured out why we needed to travel back in time. So it was a bit unclear, but the idea was great.

  1. Einzelmolekülfluoreszenzspektroskopie

CoverNo other word can describe Max Gmelch from Regensburg better. This enthusiastic physicist managed to explain this extremely long word and the implementation of the molecules that can produce light perfectly in 10 minutes. What I liked about the speech is everything, especially comparisons and examples: molecules became football players and scientists became their coaches. The link between these ideas was provided by a wonderful power point presentation and funny memes from The Big Bang Theory and Breaking Bad. The idea itself is also very useful, because these molecules can provide illumination for bus stops or whole streets. What I didn’t like about the speech – it was too short J So Max has really proved that physicists can be not only smart, but also have a good sense of humor.

  1. Changes are coming

In order to talk about climate change it is important to understand what “change” actually is. Matthias Warkus from Jena presented his philosophical point of view on this issue. In general, he discussed a few standard definitions of “change” that were offered by different scientists. What was good about the speech were the examples that disproved some definitions. For example, the sentence “One of Tom’s children is his daughter” could be false (Tom has only sons), but can change to become true (Tom’s wife gives a birth to his daughter). But what actually changes here? Does the numeral “one” changes? This is the matter of defining a change, which was addressed in the speech. What it lacked is more connection to real life (yes, I still remember that the speaker is a philosopher) :-).

  1. David Guetta and energy transition

Are these things connected at all? Benedict Schäfer from Erlenbach would definitely say „Yes“. Moreover, Guetta is a perfect candidate in this situation. So how is it possible? Everything starts with micro energy harvesting, which means collecting energy from outside impulses, storing it and using it for a system’s own purposes. On a larger scale it can be used on a dance floor. Scientists install special panels under the dancing area in clubs and when a person dances, the panels receive these impulses and generate energy which could be stored and used later. Personally, I find this idea great and fun, and this could become a new productive energy source.

  1. Warm like polar bears

In a soft and emotional voice Anastasia August told the audience what people can learn from nature, namely polar bears. In fact, we can use the specifics of their fur (which is white) and skin (which is black!) and by constructing similar materials collect and store warmth more efficiently. Afterwards it can be used for heating our houses. What was good about this speech is the idea and scientific explanations. I didn’t know that white fur lets sunlight pass through, but when the black skin reflects it, this fur doesn’t let the warmth go out. So polar bears have really nice jackets. What I would like to improve about the speech is the “slam” part, but it’s my own opinion.

  1. Is the future of mobility vegetarian?
Simon Funke

Simon Funke shows the benefits of being a vegetarian.

The last but not the least was Simon Funke who spoke about the benefits of being a vegetarian. What does it have to do with climate? Cars can also be vegetarians. The main idea is that we can and should work on cars that use alternative sources of energy because they are as fast and mobile as the traditional ones or even better. Moreover, we should improve the existing eco-cars (like Tesla) as well, so that the battery’s size and capacity would be optimal. What I liked about the presentation is the nice analogy between vegetarians and eco-cars. What I didn’t like is rather insignificant to mention 🙂

What are the results? Who won? – Polar bears J I mean they won anyway, because their system of thermoregulation is perfect. But this time the winner of the slam was Anastasia August with the total 180 points (out of a possible 200). So congratulations to her and good luck to other contestants next time.

If you got interested in Science Slam, the next one takes place in January 2016 in Nuremberg, so keep an eye on the official webpage of Science Slams. If you got interested in the speakers, you can find some of their speeches online, for example, on the FameLab German page or by entering their names in Youtube.

P.S. Even if your German is not perfect, I recommend going to this slam! Usually speeches are aimed at people who have no clue what the subject is, so the language is quite easy. Moreover, there usually are pictures that help you to understand the topic 🙂


Olha Kuzmyn