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Looking back on the European Researchers' Night 2023

03 October 2023

'Science sells', as it turned out during the sold-out science festival in Forum Groningen. Experiments, science shows, science battles, music, dance and a nice drink: the European Researchers' Night offered something for everyone with more than fifty programme components. A look back on a packed evening full of wonder.

Jacquelien Scherpen, the new rector of the University of Groningen, provides the official kick-off of the Night of Researchers around half past seven. Shortly after the starting shot, the first fumes rise from a test setup on the ground floor of the Forum, where students show various experiments to the public. Tasting grasshopper chocolate, a crash course in pipetting, or fitting a personal energy label: visitors have a lot to choose from at the various science exhibitions.

Experiments, shows and games

Although the name may suggest otherwise, the European Researchers' Night is for all 'curious' in and around Groningen. And that was clearly noticeable on Friday evening. A diverse audience actively participated in the various experiments, shows and games. What about a workshop on artificial intelligence, led by RUG researcher Dagmar Heeg. Or an interactive session with informal care expert Jasperina Brouwer. “If you need informal care tomorrow, can you call someone?” the researcher asks. The statements lead to stimulating discussions and interesting insights.

In the meantime, the 'Science Shows' starts in the Rabozaal, the largest room of the Forum, led by Jim Jansen, editor-in-chief of New Scientist. About two hundred curious visitors listen to researchers' stories about 'trust' and 'sustainable change'. During the show by Krista de Wit (Hanze) and Marie-José van Tol (UMCG), piano and violin sounds sound through the hall, illustrating their story about live music in the hospital and music as a 'vaccine' for the brain . Things get completely spectacular during Jon Chase's show, who treats the audience at breakneck speed to various 'science raps' about biodiversity and the periodic table, among other things.

Meanwhile, in another room, several renowned researchers compete against each other in a 'science battle'. Visitors receive headphones and afterwards decide who told the most intriguing story. A little further on something completely different happens. A judge answers questions from the audience. 'Can you use force against a burglar? What is proportional?' The visitors eagerly fire their questions at the magistrate. And then there are the body parts in strong water, pieces of meteorite and the cap from Spitsbergen, which Studium Generale talks about on the ground floor of the Forum Groningen.

Schools for Science and Society

Another popular destination: a 'photo booth' of the four Schools for Science & Society of the RUG. The Schools were responsible for organising the festival. In a specially equipped photo studio, visitors can take a snapshot with Wubbo Ockels, Rudolf Agricola, Aletta Jacobs or Jantina Tammes, the four scholars with roots in Groningen after which the Schools are named.

This is just a selection from the programme with around fifty activities and more than sixty researchers. As mentioned, the public lacked ears and eyes during the European Night of Researchers. None of the visitors will have seen all the programme parts when presenter Daisy Veenstra closes the festival just before midnight. But science was celebrated tonight in the Forum. And everyone present will agree: it was without a doubt a successful party.

Zpannend Zernike

In addition to the European Night of Researchers, Zpannend Zernike was on the programme last weekend. During the well-attended and annual festival, children and their supervisors were introduced to the wonderful world of science. What is it like as an archaeologist digging for real dinosaur bones? And how does a judge determine whether someone is guilty or not?

On Saturday, September 30, the young participants went on a journey of discovery through the humanities, social sciences and medical sciences in the city center of Groningen. The programme in Forum Groningen was provided by the four Schools. A day later, on October 1, the fascinating world of natural sciences, technology and energy took center stage. How do you build an earthquake-resistant house? And what does the world look like through VR glasses? At the Zernike Campus, the curious primary school students got the answer - and that of course also applied to their (grand)parents and supervisors!

Last modified:05 October 2023 1.54 p.m.
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