Friday, 30 May 2014

Pint of Science

Last week the pubs were even more crowded than usual. Not because of a special drinks offer, but instead to meet a group of scientists. Across 6 countries and in 21 cities, everyone was enjoying their “Pint of Science”. Guest blogger Amanda helped organise the event in York and is here to explain all.

To the pub

Almost a year ago I received an email looking for volunteers to help organise an international outreach festival, Pint of Science. The event combined two of my favourite things, hearing about exciting new research and going to the pub! It later became apparent this wasn’t going to be a small event. The festival was running 12 events within each city involved, over 3 evenings. Last year, Pint of Science was run in London, Oxford and Cambridge, stimulating and engaging the public about current research and why science is relevant to their everyday lives. Now, a team of York postgraduates were challenged with extending the festival up to the north of England.

What really excited me about the festival was removing science outreach events from lacklustre venues and into a relaxed environment that is well known for fuelling the generation of many great scientific ideas. For example, James Watson admitted that many crucial discussions between him and Crick were at pubs in Cambridge during their discovery of the DNA alpha helix.

In the 10 months leading up to the event we put together a programme of talks covering all areas of science. The talks included mind reading using MRI, plasma science as sustainable energy sources and fish and (computer) chips for understanding Parkinson’s disease.

My personal highlight was a talk at Brigantes bar, given by Professor Dave Smith, a previous lecturer of mine and famous for his YouTube videos. In “From G&T to TLC – how chemistry helps you feel better”, he demonstrated the healing properties of tonic water, and his own research on gene delivery using self-assembly techniques in an engaging an interactive talk. Other highlights across the pubs in York included a very large and loud plasma reactor and a Gangnam Style dancing robot!

A great success of the festival was the interaction between the audience and the speakers. The informal environment really encouraged discussions around the topics being presented, with a pint in hand.

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