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Science Week Erlangen – Test Your Brain

The Quantum Mechanics (Photo: Olha Kuzmyn)

The Quantum Mechanics (Photo: Olha Kuzmyn)

How to learn some spectacular physics really quickly and without much pain? How to find a nano-particle if even a microscope cannot see it? How to spend an evening in a company of smart and witty scientists? The answer to these and other questions is the Science Week in Erlangen.

From 24 till 30 October 2016 the culture centre E-Werk opened its doors to welcome anyone thirsty for science. The visitors had a chance to attend dozens of lectures, interactive shows or watch a fascinating movie. If you didn’t have a chance to be there, don’t worry, just note in your calendar that next year your October is busy, as it is already a tradition to watch some science each year at E-Werk. To give you an idea what to expect, here are some thoughts and overviews of the events.

26 October – Die Quantenmechaniker

The quantum mechanics Sascha Vogel and Patrick Grabitz showed that theoretical physics should always be followed by a bit of practice. In a form of satirical dialogue between a theoretical and a practical physicist they showed and explained how some of the famous experiments work and why.

The whole idea was originally born at science slams where the two enthusiasts met. At that time the physicist Sascha Vogel was already performing a solo-program „Physik in Hollywood“, so Patrick suggested joining him and making something grandeur.

The main highlights of the show:

  • the poor hamster Schrödinger that wanted to play with a big balloon, but his cage was too little to fit them both. So to solve this problem the physicists had to reduce the size of the balloon, but how? The answer is to pour nitrogen on it.
  • The part where I assisted in an experiment, namely the one that was supposed to grant the Nobel Prize to one of the physicists. My task was to drop a bowling ball into a container with wall paint. What happened next? How long did I have to wash my clothes afterwards? – Not a single second, if you know how physics work. If you use the right components for the paint, it will be able to turn into concrete under high pressures.
  • fresh stracciatella ice-cream for everyone made right in front of us on the stage using a drill and … nitrogen! Surprisingly, nitrogen has never tasted so good.
Science Slam (Photo: Olha Kuzmyn)

Science Slam (Photo: Olha Kuzmyn)

27 October – Science Slam

The main idea of a science slam never changes – you have 10 minutes to present your research or any other idea, but you have to include not only the ‘brainy’ or ‘smart’ part, but also a bit of entertainment. You are allowed to do everything you want on the stage (sometimes even intimacy is present) in order to win. Your performance will afterwards be evaluated by the audience according to 2 criteria: science and slam. Seems quite monotonous, doesn’t it? But you can never predict what the participants are going to say … or do 🙂 for example:

  • did you know you can combine biology, medicine and rap music into one lecture? Lorenz Adlung has successfully managed this task in his presentation “Are we people or are we cancer?” The main idea was to inform and show how normal cells can turn into abnormal and how our organism reacts to this. One of the cue messages of this lecture was the problem of informing people about cancer via social media and other channels to increase the awareness and help to prevent some serious cases.
  • “Why are new-born babies so light?” – Because they are just born, right? Well, the economist Simon Reif has a slightly different answer to this question. The main reason is the financing of the hospitals. It turns out, that the weight of a baby can significantly influence the income of a hospital, so sometimes doctors might note these data not as accurate as we would like to.
  • What do you know about the love-life of cicadas? Susanne Grube, apparently knows almost everything about it. In her presentation she explained how and why do cicadas migrate and where they live now (on vines). She also let us listen to how they communicate and with the assistance of the host of the Slam showed how they… copulate. So live and learn!
The Science Week Logo (Image: E-Werk Erlangen)

The Science Week Logo (Image: E-Werk Erlangen)

Science Week proves two things: science can be fun and full of surprises. Even if you are not into science, this event will be able to change it. So pay attention to the next round and, in case you would like to feel the spirit of it right now, you can always invite a few friends and watch a movie about science: “A Beautiful Mind”, “The Imitation Game”, “Contagion” or “Home”.

Olha Kuzmyn