European Commission - Press release
EU Researchers' Night: Discover how scientists solve a murder mystery - and climb like Spiderman
Brussels, 22 September 2011 – As every fan of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Lisbeth Salander knows, it takes painstaking detective work to solve a murder mystery. During this year's sixth EU Researchers' Night, which takes place in more than 320 European cities on 23 September, would-be sleuths will have the chance to team up with forensic scientists in Krakow (Poland) to crack a murder 'whodunit' puzzle with the aid of DNA testing and psychological profiling. Other highlights this year include a presentation by scientists in Nicosia (Cyprus) who will show how Spiderman's ability to scale vertical walls can be achieved in real life by using 'nanomaterial' particle technology. In Rome, meanwhile, visitors to the Planetarium will have the chance to whip up small tornadoes to understand how such natural phenomena occur. Hundreds of researchers from different scientific disciplines will showcase their work to the public and illustrate the importance of research and innovation in our daily lives. Researchers' Night is funded through the EU Marie Curie Actions, which promote the mobility, training and career development of researchers. The initiative attracted 600 000 visitors to events held last year.
"Researchers' Night gives scientists the chance to connect with the public and the public to experience the world of science. During this one evening, anyone can be a scientist. I can think of no better way to get young people excited about science and interested in the possibility of a research career," said Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
In many cases, visitors to Researchers' Night events will have the chance to discover research facilities which are not usually open to public, including laboratories and research centres, to use the most recent technologies and instruments with the guidance of scientists, to participate in experiments, competitions and quizzes, and to watch demonstrations and simulations.
Hundreds of events are taking place all across Europe – see Appendix 1 for more highlights or click here to find an event near you.
The added value that research and innovation bring to society and to the economy has long been recognised by the EU, which is investing more than €50 billion on research over the 2007-2013 period. The Commission recently proposed to allocate €80 billion for research projects in 2014-2020 in order to boost job creation and make Europe more competitive.
What is Researchers' Night?
Researchers' Night is one of the EU's most popular initiatives, aimed at the general public - especially families, young people and those who might not see themselves as science fans. The idea is to experience science in an entertaining way.
The EU has invested €16.5 million in support for Researchers' Night since 2005. The events have attracted 1.5 million visitors over 5 years and reached several million more people through awareness campaigns. The EU contributed €4 million towards the 2010 Researchers' Night, which brought 600 000 people to science-related events, and will provide a similar sum this year.
What is the link with research?
Between 2007 and 2013 the EU is spending more than €50 billion on research through the Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7). €4.7 billion of this is dedicated to the Marie Curie Actions and €309 million to the European Institute for Innovation and Technology. In 2012 the European Union will allocate €7 billion in support for research.
Under the Europe 2020 Strategy, Member States have committed themselves to spending 3% of their GDP on research by 2020 (1% from public funding and 2% from business investment). Further increases will be necessary if the EU is to meet this target, which would create up to 3.7 million jobs and nearly €800 billion in additional annual GDP.
How much will Europe spend on research in the coming years?
As part of the Europe 2020 growth and jobs strategy, Europe will continue to invest more in research. For the next spending period (2014-2020), the Commission is proposing a 46% increase in funding to €80 billion compared to €55 billion for 2007-13. Under this proposal the share of research and innovation in the EU budget would increase to about 8.5%, compared to 6.7% in 2013.
Later this year, the European Commission will present more detailed proposals for its new research and innovation programme, "Horizon 2020", which will include the Marie Curie Actions and the European Institute for Innovation and Technology.
More information on the Marie Curie website and the Participant Portal:
Appendix 1 – City highlights
A fictitious murder will take place at the Natural History Museum. Researchers and public attending the event will collect evidence at the crime scene and will participate in a research exercise similar to that performed by forensic scientists in their daily work. Fingerprint and other identification techniques will help solve the murder.
A two-metre high cylindrical machine especially built for Researchers' Night will allow visitors to the Planetarium to generate small tornadoes and to understand how these and other natural phenomena occur. DNA analysis similar to that conducted in real police investigations will also be demonstrated.
The Brest Aquarium will host a police investigation into the alleged kidnapping of an animal. Visitors will help the scientific investigation bureau to solve the mystery. They will work on the basis of pieces of evidence and will be able to handle sophisticated research equipment. 80 researchers will take part in the event.
Researchers Night in Hamburg will call for action against climate change. A pavilion made from recycled wood will be set up by the city hall and, with the aid of impressive audiovisual effects, scientists will present futuristic scenarios based on the latest data on climate change.
Fans of whodunit puzzles will have the opportunity to become intrepid detectives. Scientists from the Institute of Forensic Research will demonstrate fingerprint identification, DNA testing and analysis relating to wounds and bone damage caused by firearms. What at first appears to be a suicide will turn out to be a murder!
Visitors to the Museum of Fine Arts will be able to enjoy their favourite sci-fi movies on a three-dimensional screen. Gauguin's admirers will be also able to contemplate The Portrait of Suzanne Bambridge and, thanks to the latest digital imaging techniques, understand how experts restore art works.
Researchers will explain the scientific basis for Spiderman's gravity-defying powers as well as those of other popular superheroes.