From Monday 19 through to Wednesday 21 May, university laboratories and Dublin pubs collide in a rather special event. Want to get the skinny on placebo drugs? Burning to know how to take the perfect photo from space? A Pint of Science has got you covered, as nearly forty of Ireland’s scientist elite descend on The Stag’s Head, Odessa, Mercantile and 4 Dame Lane to discuss the questions you want answers to – the talks are absolutely free, plus no Physics PhD necessary. We had a chat with event director Dr. Seán Mac Fhearraigh to find out more.
How did this event come about exactly?
Pint of Science actually began in the UK, it was founded by Michael Motskin and Praveen Paul. They wanted post-doctorate students to get involved with organising events themselves, to get some engagement between scientists and the public, in a social, non-intimidating atmosphere. That was the original idea behind it. It gave the public the chance to ask academic questions about science, and interact with high-profile speakers. I met Praveen and Michael back in November for a beer to discuss the possibility of trying the event in Ireland, and got in touch with Irish academics to gauge levels of interest. And Pint of Science Ireland was born!
Why did you choose the pub as the venue? We’re assuming it wasn’t just for the catchy tagline!
Science is usually presented in this clinical, lab-coat environment. We wanted to remove all the formalities and barriers, deliver these talks in a story telling kind of way. We thought the pub would be a friendly, cosy location, perfect for creating a social atmosphere around the event, and encouraging people to make connections they might not otherwise have done.
Do you think people find academic science, in its usual traditional environment, intimidating?
Yes, it can certainly be presented that way, especially with media coverage of new research. We wanted to present science for the everyman, and certainly for it not to be intimidating. With things changing and adapting so fast, with so many new terms and new discoveries, it can be hard for the average person, uninvolved in science, to keep up with what’s going on. With this event we want to provide people with this basic knowledge of what’s happening.
So it will be very accessible to the general public?
Totally accessible, all the talks are presented at this formative, layman’s level. We want to focus on the storytelling aspect, rather than on big data or analysis. The themes are directed at enhancing public understanding; we wanted to totally remove any intimidating barriers that can come with science. After the end of each talk there will be an open forum; we want the public to be engaged, hopefully people will ask a lot of questions! That’s what we’re aiming for, a really social, accessible event.
Which talk are you looking forward to the most, if you’re allowed to play favourites!
Well there are an awful lot of talks… Ok, one that I know is going to be fantastic is Professor Dan Bradley’s ‘Adventures in Ancient DNA’. It’s about Irish heritage and ancestry, so for anyone interested in how history and science combine this should be an exceptional talk.
Check out www.pintofscience.ie for the full schedule.
Words: Laura Francis