Science and learning as night attractions – a talk with Jácome, creator of Science & Cocktails

I wrote a post a while ago about Science & Cocktails and mentioned how I liked the staging of the whole event. The place (an old military building transformed into a movie theater), the old soft seats, the music, the light, the smoking cocktails are all elements which contribute to make Science & Cocktails (S&C) a differently engaging scientific event.

I met Jácome Armas, the creator of S&C, to find out why he had started this initiative and what he wanted to achieve with it. An inspiring meeting with a generous scientist willing to contribute to knowledge creation and sharing.

Make science and learning a night attraction

Jácome’s main objective with S&C is to contribute to Copenhagen’s nightlife and make science and learning a night attraction.

Jácome is himself a scientist, he is a PhD student conducting research on black holes at the Niels Bohr Institute. But he is also interested in music and art and thinks that the artistic and scientific approaches to reality are inspiring and can inspire each other. This is the reason why the Science & Cocktails sessions are always mixing science with art and strive to appeal to the audience’s creativity.

Scientists as performers

Another objective is to give a stage to scientists where they can tell their own story about their research and meet an attentive audience. Jácome insisted on the fact that scientists participating to S&C are not lecturing but performing. They are supposed to act, i.e. tell a story. The staging is here to make them get into the role of scientists telling about their research to an audience of curious citizens. And the scientists’ feedback is indeed always positive : standing on a stage in a theater is an amazing experience, and so different from any other kind of lecture. Collecting their impressions will be part of my work with this blog. Another good reason to start following it :-)

Giving scientists a communication room besides the usual media is part of the S&C’s initiative. It aims at triggering a direct dialogue between scientists and society.

Promote the scientific way of thinking

Jácome is concerned by the way decisions are taken in many different areas of life. He wishes that we could relate to things in a more scientific way, i.e. not get engaged emotionally but relate more rationally to reality and try to look at it as it is. According to Jácome, we try too much to relate to a world that does not exist and that makes us take the wrong decisions.

Financing research in developing countries

Science & Cocktails is driven by volunteers and admission is always free. The expenses linked to the organization are covered by the cocktails’ sale. This small profit allows the team behind S&C to invite scientists from abroad and cover their travel expenses. They usually get free accommodation in Christiania’s guest house.

Jácome also hopes that S&C’s income will soon be able to support scientific research in India through the financement of a PhD salary.

 

The third season of Science & Cocktails is starting next thursday with a performance on supereruptions.

And by the way, S&C’s new web site is online and makes it much easier to find! http://www.scienceandcocktails.org/

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    3 thoughts on “Science and learning as night attractions – a talk with Jácome, creator of Science & Cocktails

    1. First of all thanks for a great blog. Very inspiring.

      I felt like commenting on this particular post as I myself attended the most recent session of Science & Cocktails about Supervulcanos. This was my first “Science & Cocktails” experience. First of all, I think that the initiative is great and reading the mind behinde it, Jácome Armas, thoughts on the initiative just makes it an even more inspiring event. The setting of Byens Lys is awesome and combining science with cocktails and mingling is a well thought idea.

      About the particular session I attended, I think the performance side of the presenter of super vulcanos was a bit weak and didn’t quite live up to the event’s intentions. Instead of being a performance it followed a pretty standard lecturer style. The whole concept of “Science & Cockails” is of course a concept that is super sensitive to individual performance skills, so this critic is meant to be inspirational for how one could inspire the scientist presenting to step away from their ‘standard’ presentation habits.

      Performance rather than lecturering is a key component of the concept. I wonder however what is understood of “performance”. In the session on supervulcanos I missed the sense of performance. Part of the reason for that could be that I didn’t feel I really got the researcher own story about his research. I got to learn objective knowledge about vulcanos, which was great, but I would have loved to hear also about how research on vulcanos is carried out. Do the crawl down into vulcanos? what are the challenges? what was his own best vulcano experiences? What is the part that we don’t know yet that scientist are working to find out now? What does he find so fascinating about vulcanos? Had these reflections and stories been more present, the goal of making Science & Cocktails a contributor to promoting the scientific way of thinking in the society would had been addressed even more. Luckily the informality of the event meant that I after the presentation had a chance to chat with the presenter and hear more about his best experiences with vulcanos, how a day in the lab looks like for him etc. Very inspiring.

      Anyway I am in no way scared away and will surely attend future “Science & Cocktails” events.

      • Great comment Nina, thank you! I agree with you that there was a gap between the staging and the lecture. I also thought, how difficult it may be for the scientist to step on the stage after such an alternative and funny introduction! And you’re absolutely right, it would be really interesting to experiment with the scientists’ presentation habits and make them tell a story rather than giving us the facts. This is what they do at Expérimentarium, at Université de Bourgogne in France (http://experimentarium.u-bourgogne.fr/). They train PhD-students to tell about their research in an engaging way and make them perform in unusual places like marketplaces, etc. Very inspiring!

    2. Yes – helping people to see science and scientists as part of the ‘real world’ and a normal aspect of all of our dialy lives is important work. I applaud such efforts as described.

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