Sofia Science Festival 2017: Highlights of the programme in English

The annual Sofia Science Festival is being held from May 11 to 14 2017 at Sofia Tech Park – a change of venue from previous years – with a programme that promises a fascinating array of top-level scientists and specialists explaining discoveries in the most accessible and entertaining way possible.

As is customary for the Sofia Science Festival, a number of the presentations are in English.

On May 11 at 7pm in the MTel Arena Hall, Israeli Nobel Prize winner in chemistry in 2011 Professor Dan Schechtman will explain the need for technological entrepreneurship and describe his involvement in turning Israel into a start-up nation.

At 8.30pm the same day, Ewan Henderson, Crucial’s global brand ambassador for “The Lost Distillery” will tell the story of how historians, researchers and technology experts from Glasgow University worked together to study the archives, craft and science of blending and between them have been bringing back to life legendary Scottish whisky distilleries from the 19th century. The event includes whisky tasting and attendance thus is limited to people over 18.

On May 12 at 7pm in the MTel Arena Hall, Alicia Sintes Olives, lead researcher at the scientific collaboration LIGO at the University of the Balearic Islands, speaks on “Gravitational Waves: The novel messengers of the universe”.

As the Sofia Science Festival programme explains, gravitational waves have opened a new window to space and revolutionized our understanding of the universe. They were for the first time detected by the LIGO detectors in September 2015. The waves came to Planet Earth as a result of a catastrophic event in the distant universe, which confirmed a prediction of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. This talk will look at gravitational waves, the first discovery of the Advanced LIGO and peoples’ role in the discovery.

On May 12 at 8.30pm at the same venue, Timandra Harkness – a writer, broadcaster and comedian, and a Visiting Fellow (Knowledge Exchange) in Big Data, Information Rights and Public Engagement with the Centre for Information Rights at the University of Winchester, speaks on “Big Data: Does Size Matter?”

“Big Data knows where you’ve been and who your friends are. It knows what you like and what makes you angry. It can predict what you’ll buy, where you’ll be the victim of crime and when you’ll have a heart attack. Big Data knows you better than you know yourself, or so it claims,” the programme says.

On May 13 at 11am, there’s an event suitable for first- to fourth-graders, “On Your Marks, Get Set!”

Science Made Simple’s Ruth Perkins leads the event, addressing questions such as: “How do people balance, and what makes them fall over? What happens when a ball bounces, and why do balls have different surfaces? How is friction useful in sport and how do we use science to protect us from injury? Watch plastic cups loop-the loop, and try to spot the trick in the game of crazy cricket. Dare you sit on a seat of nails?”

On May 13 at 4pm, the University of Reading’s Dr Joanna Bagniewska addresses the issue of how trophy hunting affects conservation of African wildlife.

The same day, at 5.30pm, Eñaut Izagirre will speak about the “Incognita Patagonia” expedition that he headed for the National Geographic Society.

Izagirre has had the opportunity to explore and conduct expeditions to lesser known glaciers and remote mountain ranges, experiencing a personal journey to the most unknown Patagonia. Some of the glaciers are melting 100 times faster today than anytime in the past 350 years, and indeed faster than any major glacier area in the world.

On May 13 at 7pm, Malcolm Love – a former minister of religion, later a BBC producer and a specialist trainer, coach and university lecturer in Science Communication – addresses “Religion and Science – Mapping the Conflict Zone”.

“The relationship of religion and science has often been portrayed as warfare. The rise of the ‘New Atheists’ (Richard Dawkins et al) on the one hand and the religiously motivated proponents of ‘anti-science’ on the other, might encourage this view. But what is the true history of science’s encounter with religion and vice versa? And what is the current state of play? In this talk Malcolm surveys the alleged ‘battleground’ between science and religion. He tries to filter the signal from the argumentative noise, all the while drawing on a personal journey that began in the heart of evangelical Christian belief.”

There is, of course, much more on the crowded programme of the 2017 Sofia Science Festival, including the numerous presentations in Bulgarian. For further details of the programme, and on how to buy tickets or reserve free seats, please visit the Festival’s website.

The Sofia Globe and Bulgaria Now are media partners of the 2017 Sofia Science Festival.





The Sofia Globe staff

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