If autonomous flying drones, an astronaut and a nature-loving techno DJ can all be found in Zurich for once, there can only be one reason: The eighth edition of Switzerland's largest science festival took place at the weekend. Under the motto "What holds the world together", Scientifica offered a diverse programme for young and old.
The events in the previous week, which were organised jointly with the City of Zurich, were already very well received. At 20 different locations, interested visitors learned what holds a city together.
On Saturday and Sunday, young and old flocked to the three locations of the University and ETH. Around 20,000 to 30,000 visitors experienced research at close quarters in the two main buildings of the universities, on the Hönggerberg and at the Irchel campus. They spoke with researchers from both universities at 70 exhibition booths and took part in panel discussions and laboratory tours. Topics included the development of language, the medicine of the future, the formation of planets and the wonders of nature.
Scientists for a day
"Opening our laboratories and showing the disciplinary diversity of our research is an essential building block of university identity. The ivory tower has long since given way to a lively meeting space, as we were able to see again this year," explains Elisabeth Stark, Prorector Research at UZH.
At numerous workshops, visitors could get active themselves and, for example, train their mental performance, immerse themselves in the magic of antiquity or design synthetic cells on the computer. Workshops aimed specifically at young people and children were particularly popular. They dealt with questions of biodiversity, programmed computers or practised dealing with stress. Guided tours to a dark matter detector and many other research laboratories offered insight into otherwise inaccessible workplaces of scientists.
Solve conflicts, experience nature and accompany Globi into space
"Whether it's climate change, our health care or nutrition - science is central to the future of our society - and yet often remains hidden. That is why I am all the more pleased that so many people once again took the opportunity to experience the results from the laboratories at first hand and to exchange ideas with the researchers," says Christian Wolfrum, ETH Vice President for Research. Numerous discussions on various scientific topics - such as the role of researchers in political debates or the question of how psychology helps us solve conflicts in the family - were very well received.
Particularly popular were the autonomous drone race, the biodiversity show by DJ and award-winning book author Dominik Eulberg, and the book launch of "Globi in Space", which was also attended by ETH professor Thomas Zurbuchen, who is immortalised in the book. As a crowning finale to Scientifica, former NASA director Zurbuchen talked with astronaut Thomas Pesquet about what holds the world together from their point of view and how one's perspective on the Earth changes - when one looks at it from the outside.