SAS at the European Researchers´ Night 2022
The last Friday in September belonged to science and the presentation of the best scientific results from Slovakia. 146,000 visitors came to five Slovak locations and accompanying events of the 16th European Researchers' Night. More than 1,350 scientists in 227 scientific stands and 145 lectures dedicated their time to the visitors. There were also workshops, discussions and visits by scientists to school premises. The Slovak Academy of Sciences presented 25 of its science departments at the event in Bratislava, Košice and Poprad.
The Košice Researchers' Night was traditionally held at OC Optima. A total of 380 scientists from Slovak universities and SAS research institutes presented themselves at 58 stands and 11 popularization lectures. Despite the bad weather, the event attracted a record 27,000 visitors. The largest part of them traditionally consisted of primary and secondary school students, not only from the vicinity of Košice, but also from the entire eastern Slovak region.
The Institute of Geotechnics SAS (Úgt SAV, v. v. i.) represented the scientific team from the Department of Mineral Biotechnology. "At the event, we presented methods of cleaning industrially polluted waters using an electrochemical rector and the electrolysis process and mine waters containing a high concentration of metals using neutralizing substances. At the same time, we presented basic laboratory techniques, for example pipetting and measuring the pH of aqueous solutions," explained Lenka Hagarová from Úgt SAV.
The Institute of Experimental Physics also appeared at this popular event (ÚEF SAV, v. v. i.). "We prepared our experiments in four scientific stands. Visitors could thus experience fun with a vacuum, learn about superconductivity and low temperatures, find out where proteins are located and learn about the properties of magnetic liquid. Our colleague Šimon Mackovjak also prepared a popularizing lecture on the topic of Space Security," summarized Pavol Szabo from the ÚEF SAV.
The Institute of Neurobiology of the Biomedical Research Center SAS (NbÚ BMC SAV, v. v. i.) presented itself with a scientific stand called The Mysterious World of Neurons, which was particularly interesting with an attention test based on the EEG-biofeedback principle. "With this test, we revealed the level of concentration of visitors in a fun way, and it attracted a lot of children and adults. Visitors were also enthralled by the opportunity to examine their sense of smell, mainly because its loss is one of the main symptoms of the COVID-19 disease and can persist for several weeks after overcoming it," explained Jana Fedorová from NbÚ BMC SAV, who, together with colleagues, perceives the Researchers' Night 2022 in a very positive way. Not only the high attendance of the event contributed to this, but also the activity of children and adults, who stayed at the Institute's stand until late in the evening and had a lot of interesting and curious questions throughout the day.
The Institute of Animal Physiology of the Centre of Biosciences SAS (ÚFHZ CBv SAV, v. v. i.) was represented by the scientific team from the Laboratory of digestion and nutrition, which prepared a stand called "Very small, but very healthy". In it, visitors could enrich their knowledge about the physiological processes of digestion in farm animals, which they could verify on models of ruminant foregut.
"We mainly talked about the importance of saliva in the digestion process, which we demonstrated by the effect of amylase on a starch solution. The visitors also got to know the magic of the microscope, thanks to which they could observe the microbial environment of the rumen, which not only the younger but also the older audience showed interest in. In addition, they could test their senses in the olfactory recognition of various medicinal plant extracts, which confused even more experienced participants. The presence of active substances in these plants was proven by a quick screening of the presence of flavonoids in extracts from medicinal plants, the application of which in farm animals is being addressed by my colleagues," explained Daniel Petrič from the ÚFHZ CBv SAV.
More than 7,900 visitors visited OC MAX in Poprad during the Researchers' Night. Scientists from the Astronomical Institute SAS prepared an interesting presentation in the stand, as well as on the stage, which was organized by two employees of the Institute. Children could try a solar telescope and understand the principles of its operation using plane lenses and laser pointers on models of linear optics.
"In addition, we showed them the refraction of light on prisms, optical gratings to explain the spectrum and spectral lines that we use in research. A birefringent calcite crystal was also interesting. We had a glowing model of a binary star and an exoplanet, showing how we can discover and observe them. We had a 3D printer make a very realistic model of the nucleus of comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko, as well as a digital sundial that shows the solar time in the form of numbers with an accuracy of 20 minutes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.," explained Marek Husárik from the Astronomical Institute SAS, and the organizer of the Researchers' Night in Poprad.
The creation and presentation of a model of a comet nucleus made of dry ice, sand, ash and water also aroused great public interest. "We demonstrated the fact of how and why comets are active and have tails. A touch monitor was also available at the stand, on which we showed the current sky in the Stellarium program. The children were also interested in what the view of the Earth from another body of the Solar System would look like, or what the sky would be like in the past or the future," added the astronomer.
The Institute of Hydrology SAS was also present in Poprad. In their stand, they showed the methods and results of hydrological research in our highest mountains.
Visitors in Bratislava could enjoy the European Researchers' Night at Stará tržnica, in the Lab.Café and the premises of the National Edification Centre. The event attracted more than 66,000 visitors. In the capital, SAS presented 16 scientific stands and gave several lectures. In Lab.Café, Dr. Pavol Kenderessy from the Institute of Landscape Ecology SAS and Dr. Ján Madarás from the Earth Science Institute SAS spoke about climate change. At the same time, they presented the popular science publication Climate Change I., in which experts from the SAS processed this highly topical issue.
Archaeological research and the results of an interesting discovery under the Tatras were presented by Dr. Karol Pieta and Dr. Tereza Štolcová from the IInstitute of Archaeology SAS. Dr. Jakub Šrol from the Institute of Experimental Psychology of Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences SAS was part of a panel discussion about the relationship to the different and the willingness to see the world through the other's eyes. Dr. Barbara Lášticová from the Institute for Research in Social Communication SAS participated in a panel discussion on the topic "Society is on the move and wants to know where it´s going" on the main stage in Stará tržnica. A panel discussion on How to restore trust in science was held in V-Klub. Together with other guests, the President of the SAS, Prof. Pavol Šajgalík, tried to find an answer to this question. Among other things, he drew attention to the importance of working with the young scientific generation: "I think that we need to educate individuals in the field of science who are able to bring order and peace to society, which comes from scientific knowledge. That personality must be complex and must be able to positively influence society," he stated.
The atmosphere of the event in Bratislava is also captured in the video added at the end of the text.
Edited by Katarína Gáliková
Video: Martin Bystriansky