Brussels, 25 September 2014
Fly me to the moon: 300 cities set for European Researchers' Night
Destination moon - commencing countdown, engines on! If you have ever wondered what it's like to be a space astronaut or a forensic scientist helping to crack a murder mystery, then don't miss the annual tomorrow (26 September). Research boffins will be sharing their passion for science with the public in over 300 cities and . Visitors can experience a myriad of activities from a simulated rocket flight in Rome, to learning how to build a skateboard on a computer (Poznan) or helping solve a murder (Bucharest). Behind-the-scenes visits to labs which are normally closed to the public, hands-on experiments, international link-ups between different European events, flashmobs, quizzes and competitions are also on the agenda (see highlights below). The aim of European Researchers' Night is to promote science and encourage young people to embrace a career in research.
"Europe needs to train an extra one million researchers by 2020 if it is to maintain its reputation for excellence and to achieve its target of investing 3% of EU GDP on R&D. European Researchers' Night is a unique event to promote research careers. It is a win-win exercise in which the public learn about what researchers really do and why it matters for our daily life," said Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
In 2013, nearly 1.3 million people of all ages participated in European Researchers' Night. This year the initiative has received €8 million in support from the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, part of the EU research programme Horizon 2020.
Careers in research embrace many different fields. For example, youngsters taking part in tomorrow's events will have the chance to sample life as a chemist, archaeologist or engineer. They will have the opportunity to carry out experiments under safe conditions and to try out high-tech equipment from labs. Discover the event closest to you here.
European Researchers' Night is a Europe-wide initiative which takes place on the last Friday night of September every year. It was launched in 2005 in 20 cities in 15 countries, and has grown fast since then.
The events are selected through open and transparent competition following a public call for bids.
The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) provide international excellent research career development opportunities and training to talented researchers. The MSCA will award a total of €6.16 billion in grants over the next seven years (2014-2020), an increase of 30% on previous levels, with 65 000 researchers set to benefit. The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions are managed by the Research Executive Agency of the European Commission.
For more information
European Commission: Education and training
Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU
European Researchers' Night 2014 website
European Researchers’ Night 2014 on Facebook
European Researchers' Night highlights
Zagreb will focus on what it's like to be a researcher. A variety of flashmob performances and film projections will show the different stages in the lives of researchers, scientists and inventors. Members of the public will have the opportunity to ask researchers everything and anything about their job. Tricky questions are encouraged!
What are the differences and similarities of alternative medicine and modern medicine? In the 'Village of Vikings', school pupils will learn about how our ancestors prevented illness in ancient times, about healthy diets, the benefits of herbs and the supposed help of talismans. The Estonian Health Care Museum will organise a workshop where visitors can measure their physiological parameters using a Vernier scale.
France: Bordeaux and Le Mans
A group of researchers have lost their belongings in Le Mans and they need help to find them, following clues and answering questions about different areas of research. Intuition will be crucial to uncovering the mystery.
Meanwhile, scientists in Bordeaux will switch off the lights and offer visitors the opportunity to explore in the dark, using their other senses. People will be invited to take a nap while the scientists at Cap Science collect and modify their dreams!
Braunschweig will host a record gathering of over 1 000 researchers in the city centre. A local bank has pledged to match the number of researchers present with a donation to the Studienkompass foundation which supports students in their scientific careers. Researchers will invite visitors to take part in activities linked to their area of expertise; for instance, a researcher from Helmholtz Graduate School for Hadron and Ion Research will reveal scientific goofs in Hollywood movies like James Bond and Spiderman.
Italy: Rome and La Spezia
In Rome, youngsters can become astronauts for a day on board a rocket flight simulation with the moon as their destination. The European Space Research Institute will highlight the danger that 'space junk' represents for satellites and the Earth, and will demonstrate some of the solutions being researched by European space agencies.
The public will also have the chance to find out how science contributes to the preservation of art. Experts will demonstrate techniques to protect masterpieces from vibration, and how canvases are cleaned using bacteria.
What does a singing whale sound like? In a workshop organised by the Naval Experimentation and Support Centre of the Italian Navy, the public in La Spezia will build a hydrophone to listen to whales singing and whistling.
Poznan will challenge peoples' curiosity and imagination with activities such as building a skateboard with a computer simulation, designing the ‘perfect’ garden, and examining a drop of blood to do a diagnosis. Biometrics will be on the agenda too with demonstrations of face and voice identification and movement detection.
Romania: Bucharest and Tulcea
In Bucharest, the public will be able to walk among the stars and contemplate the universe. For those passionate about music and technology, there will be a workshop to compose a melody on a tablet. Those interested in crime mysteries can help detectives and scientists to solve a ‘murder’. Meanwhile, visitors in Tulcea will explore the Danube Delta ecosystems.
The theme of the night in Belgrade will be the ‘parents’ of modern science and their lives dedicated to science. Through hands-on experiments and interactive science shows, visitors will learn about the findings of Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. One of the highlights will be an interactive workshop on how radioactive isotopes are used today in medicine, to introduce the work of Marie Skłodowska-Curie.
Spain: Alcalá de Henares and Girona
In Alcalá de Henares, through hands-on experiments the public can learn about the impact of human activities on subterranean fauna and ecosystems. An experiment with an aquifer-model will show the effect of water abstraction on groundwater crustaceans. Visitors will also learn that bacteria offers sustainable solutions to energy generation. Researchers from the Madrid Institutes for Advanced Research (Institutos Madrileños de Estudios Avanzados, IMDEA) will build a miniature device to test how wastewater can be converted through bacteria into useful electric energy.
On the occasion of the International year of Crystalography, there will be a special workshop in Girona where visitors can create crystals of different colours and sizes as chemists do.
London’s Natural History Museum will invite visitors to see inside the belly of a deep-sea monster through CT-scans and to identify trees in the wildlife garden with the free Leafsnap app. They can also use smartphones to help the museum’s scientists capture information about beetles. These and many other hands-on activities will be organised alongside the museum's spectacular displays and collections.