Brussels, 24 September 2013
Science is a scream: 300 cities in 33 countries celebrate Researchers' Night (27 September)
Researchers can do some pretty amazing things. Watch them levitate a mini-train and keep it in motion in Athens. Is your singing out of tune? No problem, Düsseldorf researchers have created a virtual device that can turn you into an opera star to rival Placido Domingo. In Zagreb, find out if Stanley Kubrick's Space Odyssey is more than just science fiction. Or try your hand at solving a murder mystery in Porto. Researchers in Santander will demonstrate how physics helps surfers catch the biggest waves. Visitors in Perugia will meet a portrait-making Lego robot named Le(g)onardo. Science is a scream – and the public in Poznan will be out to prove it by trying to break a sound record with the loudest collective shriek.
These are just some of the unmissable events taking place in 33 EU and neighbouring countries as part of Researchers' Night (27 September). From Ireland to Israel, researchers will be sharing their passion for science with the public in 300 cities. Last year, Researchers' Night attracted more than one million visitors, including 600 000 children. The aim is to discover science in a fun way and promote research as a career. The public will be able to take part in experiments and interactive science shows, as well as trying out equipment in research laboratories that are normally restricted.
"Children are naturally curious and creative, and Researchers' Night is a great way of showing them that science is cool. Who knows, perhaps it might also inspire some girls and boys to become brilliant scientists of the future," said Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
Researchers' Night takes place every year across Europe on the fourth Friday of September. There are events in 25 EU Member States (all except Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg), as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Faroe Islands, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Israel, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.
The event has grown from 92 participating cities in 2006 to over 300 cities this year.
Researchers' Night receives € 4 million a year in support (total cost is €7.5 million) from the EU's Marie Curie Actions, which promote international research careers. The event aims to highlight the important role research plays in our daily lives and science as a career. Encouraging more young men and woman to choose a career in research and science is crucial for Europe's future growth, which is increasingly dependent on innovation in products and services.
The events featured during Researchers' Night are selected through a competitive process following a call for proposals.
The total budget for the Marie Curie Actions in 2007-2013 is €4.7 billion. They are almost entirely managed by the European Commission's Research Executive Agency. The programme will be renamed the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) under Horizon 2020, the new EU programme for research and innovation. Researchers' Night will continue to receive support under the new programme. The European Parliament and Member States recently agreed the MSCA will account for 8% of the overall Horizon 2020 budget. This decision is due to be formally adopted in the coming weeks.
For more information
European Commission: Education and training
Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU
Annex: City highlights
1. Athens and Volos (Greece)
Athens' Researchers' Night agenda includes experiments with explosive baking powder, rose petals that turn into breaking glass and magnetic fields able to lift a miniature 'bullet train' into the air and keep it in motion. In Volos, a team of mechanical engineers from the University of Thessaly will invite the public to sit in a race car they have just built.
2. Porto (Portugal)
Ready to make batteries powered by citrus fruit? Would you like your children to see what can be done with static electricity and straws? Do you want to learn how to build kites? The City Park of Paços de Ferreira will host a large number of workshops to which everyone is welcome. Would-be detectives can help researchers solve a 'murder' through hands-on experiments in the lab that will be key to shedding light on the perpetrator.
3. London (UK)
Would you like to join a live link-up with NASA scientists, try your hand at recreating cave art, or see Madagascan tenrecs, an endangered hedgehog-like mammal? The city’s iconic Natural History Museum will open its doors until midnight. The Museum’s collections will be also on show, including a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton which is on public display for the first time in Europe.
4. Poznan (Poland)
The public will be invited to break a sound record with the loudest collective scream. Advice on fire protection and tips for would-be car mechanics are on the agenda too. There will be also workshops for kids, who will be able to see a graphical representation of their voice and scan their faces.
5. Göteborg (Sweden)
20 000 children across Sweden have been gathering tree leaves and photos for a scientific study on new weather and landscape patterns associated with climate change. The results will be revealed in Göteborg. Stories of fascinating expeditionary boat trips to the Arctic and other scientific adventures will feed the curiosity in an online chat.
6. Zagreb (Croatia)
Is Stanley Kubrick's Space Odyssey just science fiction? Or does it show, on the contrary, how scientific principles work in practice (e.g. there is no sound in the vacuum of space)? The Institute of Physics has organised a science fiction TV series seminar on the topic. A young local scientist from the Ruder Boskovic Institute will show a smoke launcher and how to fire giant shapes and vortex smoke rings.
7. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Santander and Oviedo (Spain)
The Park of Santa Catalina in the Canary Islands will host workshops on solar energy and wind power. Meanwhile, in Santander, researchers and members of the public will discuss the scientific principles of surfing. It is all physics! Magnetism and energy is a theme for the night in Oviedo. Here the local events also offer an opportunity to discover how cell phones, computers and refrigerators work.
8. Perugia (Italy)
A group of sci-fi fans will catch a bus to Trasimeno Lake to conduct some unusual geological studies. The bus, guided by actors and researchers, will take the participants to a different time, thousands of years ago, and explore, on the basis of collected samples, how much the planet's climate has changed and is still to evolve. Those with a passion for art, games and robotics will have the opportunity to be photographed by a portrait-making Lego robot named 'Le(g)onardo'.
9. Düsseldorf (Germany)
In Dusseldorf, everybody is invited to burn off calories on a sustainable dance floor: the more enthusiastic the participants are, the more lighting and visual games the floor will generate. For a few seconds, they will also be able to become an opera singer. Visitors' lips and hands movements will be transferred to a virtual tenor on a big screen, setting the rhythm and volume of his performance. A modern 360° video projection will screen educational films on climate change. Acoustics and visuals promise to be spectacular! More than 80 activities are on the agenda.
10. Limassol (Cyprus)
The public will have a choice between 20 different activities in Limassol, ranging from molecular gastronomy, genetic analysis of chromosomes, to a presentation of ancient Greek musical instruments. Theatre will have a special place throughout the night: a physicist will present a stand-up comedy based on science facts and elementary school pupils will make a theatre performance. High school students will participate in a science communication competition S-Factor, while PhD students will make drawings of their PhDs and have them assessed by a jury.