Science so close

The "Lange Nacht der Wissenschaft" is a real crowd-pleaser. The motto of the fourth instalment is: "Science thrills".

“Is Putin laughing at us?”

That is the opening topic of the University of Konstanz’s programme for the 4th “Lange Nacht der Wissenschaft” on 13 May 2017. The next question, “Are sanctions ever successful?”, makes it quite clear what it’s really all about. Not about what the Russian president finds funny about “us” but rather what impact sanctions can have on politics and the economy. Our researchers’ creativity has obviously left its mark not only on the contents of their presentations but also on the titles. Another little taste: “Dial M for mathematics: The mobile phone as mathematical genius”.

Science leaves a stamp on people’s everyday lives.

“Science thrills”, as the title of the fourth “Lange Nacht der Wissenschaft” puts it. A “well chosen” slogan in the eyes of its patroness too: “Nothing drives our society, nothing generates so much change and transformation like science does!”, writes Theresia Bauer, Minister of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Württemberg, in her greeting.

What does science stand for in a modern society? For well-founded knowledge, for visions, for progress, for innovation as such - this is the prominent theme of the 4th “Lange Nacht der Wissenschaft”. But it also stands for fundamental human characteristics without which there would be no science: The ability to marvel, dream and rethink the world. There will be many different examples during the Long Night of the Sciences to illustrate this: “From magnifier to high-resolution microscope” is the title of one of the events which shows how fluorescence microscopy can make even the tiniest subcellular structures visible. “What was before the big bang?”, is a question that attests our curiosity about the world and at the same time confirms that science deals critically with itself - even in the case of prevailing conceptions such as the big bang theory.

The first “Lange Nacht der Wissenschaft” in 2010 dated back to an initiative of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings on Lake Constance. In order to do justice to the complex topics which the “Lange Nacht der Wissenschaft” sets itself each time, several quite different organisations have been responsible from the outset for staging this major scientific event. Since 2010, the Hochschule Konstanz University of Applied Sciences (HWTG), the city of Konstanz and Mainau Island have been involved alongside the University of Konstanz. Thurgau University of Teacher Education (PHTG) came on board in 2012. This meant not only that borders between academic subjects and institutional boundaries were overcome, but also that the national border to neighbouring Switzerland was crossed. This year, a further organisation will join the “Lange Nacht der Wissenschaft” in the shape of the Binational School of Education, which educates teachers in the framework of a partnership initiated by the University of Konstanz and Thurgau University of Teacher Education (PHTG).

Around 7,000 people visited the four locations in 2014 - university, university of applied sciences, Münster square and Mainau - to learn about scientific developments and the work being performed right here in the region. This year, participants will be able to enjoy about 140 lectures, presentations, discussions, tours and experiments. “Do I have what it takes to be a good scientist?”, is one of the topics where visitors will be faced with a tricky decision. “Enter our virtual world”, insists the working group on collective behaviour and offers fascinating insights into the secrets of animal movements and collective behaviour by means of state-of-the-art virtual reality techniques. And once again the “Honorary doctorates of the Lange Nacht der Wissenschaft” will be awarded, which are very popular amongst young science fans, for whom alone about 50 events will be organised. Example: Chemical experiments in the pupils' lab.

Multilingualism, physical fitness, but also tours of the library, the botanical gardens, slacklining or even building a soapbox are all points on the agenda catering to different interests in and around science. An absolute must is a science slam where six scientists each entertain their audience for eight minutes with intriguing scientific insights. Whoever comes out as victor, one winner is already clear: All of us.

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