Sofia Science Festival 2021: Events in English

Written by on April 23, 2021 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Sofia Science Festival 2021: Events in English

The 11th Sofia Science Festival will take place on May 15 and 16 2021 at Sofia Tech Park and on May 17 and 18 digitally for school pupils.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, changes may occur – both in the dates and format (digital or face-to-face). Please follow the festival page for the latest information.

This is the programme of events in English:

May 15, 8pm: Why I have hope for a better tomorrow?

Dr Jane Goodall is Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and a UN Messenger of Peace. She has spent a lifetime in environmental, animal welfare and humanitarian work and is widely known for her on-going study of the wild chimpanzees of Gombe in Tanzania.

As a little girl she dreamt about Africa and living and studying wild animals. She never gave up on her dream and thanks to the help and support of her extraordinary mother, Jane’s dream not only became a reality, but has inspired millions of young people all over the world to pursue their dreams too, through her global humanitarian and environmental programme Roots & Shoots .

Join Dr. Jane Goodall at the Sofia Science Festival and learn more about her early years in Gombe; the challenges she faced; the amazing chimpanzees and why we must protect our closest animal relative; the damage that humans have inflicted on our Planet and how we can all play a part in its restoration and preservation going forward; the humanitarian and environmental programme Roots & Shoots, and why young people all around the world give her hope for the future of this planet.

In English, interpretation to Bulgarian provided.

The event will be broadcast live online only in front of the audience at Sofia Tech Park. Tickets cost five leva and can be bought online.

May 16, 4.30pm: Three women astronomers and a databank

The inspiring stories of three eminent female astronomers who lived between 1750 and 2016 will be presented by Prof. Jocelyn Bell Burnell followed by reflection on the position of women in astronomy around the world today.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a world-renowned astrophysicist who inadvertently discovered pulsars as a graduate student in Radio Astronomy in Cambridge, opening up a new branch of astrophysics – work recognised by the award of a Nobel Prize to her supervisor.

She has subsequently worked in many roles in many branches of astronomy, working part-time while raising a family. She is now a Visiting Academic in Oxford, and the Chancellor of the University of Dundee, Scotland. Prof. Burnell has been President of the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society, in 2008 became the first female President of the Institute of Physics for the UK and Ireland, and in 2014 the first female President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

She was one of the small group of women scientists that set up the Athena SWAN scheme. She has received many honours, including a $3M Breakthrough Prize in 2018.

The public appreciation and understanding of science have always been important to her, and she is much in demand as a speaker and broadcaster. In her spare time, she gardens, listens to choral music and is active in the Quakers. She has co-edited an anthology of poetry with an astronomical theme – “Dark Matter; Poems of Space”.

In English, interpretation to Bulgarian provided.

The event will be broadcast live online only in front of the audience at Sofia Tech Park. Tickets cost five leva and can be bought online.

May 15, 10.30am: The dance of life

How does life begin? What drives a newly fertilized egg to keep dividing and growing until it becomes 40 trillion cells, a greater number than stars in the galaxy? Discover how early life repairs and organises itself, what this means for the future of pregnancy, and how we might solve IVF disorders and prevent miscarriages.

Join Roger Highfield, Science Director at the Science Museum Group and a visiting Professor at UCL and Oxford. He studied Chemistry at the University of Oxford and was the first person to bounce a neutron off a soap bubble. Roger was the Science Editor of The Daily Telegraph for two decades, and the Editor of New Scientist between 2008 and 2011.

In English, interpretation to Bulgarian provided.

The event will be broadcast live online only in front of the audience at Sofia Tech Park. This event is free of charge, but you need to book a free pass online.

May 15, 3pm: Loneliness, the brain and us

Loneliness and isolation are increasing in societies all around the world. This development has recently been further intensified due to the world-wide social distancing rules in response to the outbreak of Covid-19 with potential long-term effects of disrupted social connection for years to come. However, the effects of isolation on cognition and the human brain are not clear. Importantly, while many studies focus on loneliness in elderly people, a recent large survey found that 16 to 24-year-olds reported the highest loneliness levels.

In this talk, Dr. Livia Tomova will present results from her research on the effects of social stress, social isolation and loneliness on the human brain. She will also discuss how social isolation might affect development during adolescence – a developmental period in life characterized by increased sensitivity to social stimuli.

Dr. Livia Tomova is interested in how stress, loneliness and social isolation affect the brain and mind, especially during adolescence. Her PhD research at the University of Vienna focused on the effects of acute stress on social cognition and the underlying brain processes. Dr. Tomova completed 3 years of postdoctoral training in Cognitive Neuroscience at MIT investigating how deprivation of social needs affects the human brain. Dr. Tomova was awarded a Henslow College Research Fellowship at Hughes Hall starting in 2020 during which she aims to identify brain markers predicting vulnerability to the adverse effects of isolation and loneliness in adolescents and young adults. She is also interested in investigating whether and how social media can fulfill social needs.

In English, interpretation to Bulgarian provided.

The event will be broadcast live online only in front of the audience at Sofia Tech Park. Tickets cost five leva and can be bought online.

May 15, 4.30pm: Microbes for mental health

Did you know that there are trillions of microbes living in our guts? This community forms our microbiome. The microbes are important mediators of our immune system and our mental health. They do this by transforming food molecules into metabolites. Our bodies evolved to use these microbial waste products.

We will learn how this happens from Simon Spichak, MSc submitted at University College Cork, Ireland, FameLab Ireland 2020 winner and a science communicator passionate about neuroscience, microbiome and mental health. He is the founder of Resolvve Inc, focused on improving mental health in high school and university students.

In English, interpretation to Bulgarian provided.

The event will be broadcast live online only in front of the audience at Sofia Tech Park. Tickets cost five leva and can be bought online.

In partnership with The Embassy of Ireland Sofia.

May 15, 6.30pm: Launching space dreams

Retired Astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger will discuss her childhood dream of becoming an astronaut to its fruition in April 2010. She will touch on the significance of her parents, teachers, and STEM education in fuelling the dream, describe the application process and astronaut training. Finally, Dorothy will recall her flight and mission and the advances in exploration.

Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger is a geologist and former NASA astronaut. In addition to space hours, she also commanded the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations 16, an underwater habitat with an international crew of aquanauts and habitat technicians. Together they simulated spacewalks that can be applied to future space research and exploration, and sought to develop techniques for working at an asteroid. As the first Space Camp alumna to become an astronaut, Dorothy regularly speaks about promoting STEAM education around the globe.

In English, interpretation to Bulgarian provided.

The event will be broadcast live online only in front of the audience at Sofia Tech Park. This event is free of charge, but you need to book a free pass online.

In partnership with US Embassy in Bulgaria.

May 16, 10.30am: Archaeology with Asterix and Obelix

How much truth is there in the comic book stories about the cunning Gauls and the Roman legionaries? How much archaeology can we find in Asterix and Obelix’s adventures brought to us by pop culture? What were the biggest problems the Romans faced when conquering Gaul? If you want to find the answers to these questions, do not miss the talk by Polish archaeologist and history teacher Marcin Gostkowski.

Marcin has a degree in Archaeology and Mediterranean Civilisations from Warsaw University and from 2008 to 2020 he participated in archaeological research activities in more than 15 countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. As an avid champion of science communication, he actively cooperates with history museums across Europe. At the moment, he is completing his doctoral thesis on the history of the Crusades.

The event is suitable for children above the age of seven.

In English, interpretation to Bulgarian provided. This event is free of charge, but you need to book a free pass online.

In partnership with the Polish Institute in Sofia.

May 16, noon: Now you see me, now you don’t

Epidemics have been a persistent threat to humanity throughout our history. From the earliest plagues to the most recent Covid-19, they all emerge unexpectedly and ask a hefty price from society. We are used to battling them and scrambling for solutions, but there is something we are not seeing. Is there no way to predict epidemics? Would it be possible to find them before they find us? What are we yet to learn from our history and what does disease evolution teach us? Join Dr. Orsolya Bajer-Molnár’s talk to see how COVID19 is only one of many, and find out how we could make the many a lot less.

Orsolya Bajer-Molnár is an evolutionary biologist at the Konrad Lorenz Institute in Vienna. She studied the physiological effects of climate change at Dartmouth College, US and then parasite evolution in Brazil. Science communication has played a central role to Orsolya’s life, especially on establishing collaboration between scientists and stakeholders in an effort to prevent future outbreaks. She gives TEDx talks, is a frequent guest in the media and was a finalist in FameLab Hungary 2018.

In English, interpretation to Bulgarian provided.

The event will be broadcast live online only in front of the audience at Sofia Tech Park. This event is free of charge, but you need to book a free pass online.

In partnership with Hungarian Cultural Institute.

May 16, 4.30pm: Glaciers – perfect thermometers

Some indicators of climate change, for example long-term global temperature trends, can be accurately measured but are difficult to see or feel. In contrast, glaciers are intuitive indicators of climate change and they make it easy to grasp the fundamental connection between glaciological and climatic changes. Since the 19th century glaciers have influenced our understanding of the climate system and served as a large-scale natural thermometer, as well as a source of fascination for scientists and mountaineers alike.

Lea Hartl, scientist at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Mountain Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences, gives an overview of current glacier recession in the Alps and places recent developments in a historical context, discussing how our perception of glaciers as sentinels of climate change has shifted during the past century. Lea Hartl researches cryosphere-climate interactions in mountain environments.

In English, interpretation to Bulgarian provided.

The event will be broadcast live online only in front of the audience at Sofia Tech Park. This event is free of charge, but you need to book a free pass online.

Dedicated to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

In partnership with Austrian Embassy Sofia.

May 16, 6pm: What is sea-level rise and what does it mean?

This talk with Robert Nicholls will explore the magnitude and sources of sea-level rise, the resulting impacts and what the potential responses in terms of climate mitigation and the range of possible adaptation are. Join to hear about the global perspective of all coastal areas, with a particular consideration of the effects on coastal cities and communities and what needs to be done to address these challenges.

Robert Nicholls is an expert in assessing long-term coastal problems and finding sustainable solutions. He is Director of the Tyndall Centre. He has advised national governments (e.g., UK, Netherlands, Bangladesh, Singapore, the Maldives) and intergovernmental organisations (e.g., OECD) on climate change and coastal issues. He was a lead author to five reports of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) assessment process, a review editor to the fifth IPCC assessment and a contributing author to the recent IPCC Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere (2019). He is a member of the ASCE/COPRI Coastal Engineering Research Council.

In English, interpretation to Bulgarian provided.

The event will be broadcast live online only in front of the audience at Sofia Tech Park. This event is free of charge, but you need to book a free pass online.

Dedicated to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

For more details about the festival, including regarding tickets and how to get to the venue, please visit the dedicated page on the website of the British Council.

The Sofia Globe is a media partner of The Sofia Science Festival.

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