Outside the Lab Professional development

A Scientist Walks into a Bar…

Pint of Science is a global science festival that aims to deliver “interesting and relevant talks on the latest science research in an accessible format to the public”. Generally, it involves scientists giving talks at bars and pubs. Talks may focus on a variety of topics including neuroscience, medicine, geosciences, biotechnology, robotics, politics, and more.

After talking to friends, researchers Michael Motskin and Praveen Paul realized how little the general public knows about the fascinating research happening right under their noses. “Although they read/hear about science almost every day, science is often lost in translation in social and mass media. This causes people to lose faith in science because they feel that their interests or what they hear or read doesn’t match reality,” says Motskin. “We felt that the best way to tackle this was by connecting people to the source; to the scientists who work for the love of science, without filters and without interpretation.”

While at Imperial College London, Motskin and Paul organized an event called “Meet the Researchers” where people affected by Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis could visit their labs to see what research was being conducted. It was a big success, so they decided to branch out by taking scientists out to people in local bars to make science more accessible. Pint of Science was founded in October 2012.

“Scientists are very passionate people who love to chat about their research. The opportunity to present their research to people is one of the only occasions when they realize how impactful their work is,” says Paul. “Pint of Science allows people direct access to inspiring scientists and encourages open discussion, all in the most familiar of places, the pub! Scientists drink pints too – they really aren’t that different! Meanwhile, attendees have a fantastic opportunity to find out about interesting research – and get a window into how complex and challenging scientific research really is.”

The festival is also very rewarding for the speakers. “Pint of Science is a fantastic opportunity to share my research with a diverse audience. For an increasing number of scientists, bringing cutting-edge research to the wider public and sharing with them our fascination with the world around us is something that gives as much pleasure as doing research itself,” says returning Pint of Science participator, Jim Al-Khalili – a theoretical physicist. “The informal setting also means this is true public engagement – and the often quite challenging questions certainly keep me on my toes!”

The festival will take place May 14-16 in 300 cities across 21 countries. “We really didn’t expect this festival to go viral across the globe,” says co- Motskin. “It was a pet project that simply got out of hand. Our first festival in 2013 was held in just three cities, but it attracted so much attention that people emailed us asking (somewhat angrily) why it wasn’t in their local city. We then started to receive emails from organizers and friends who wanted to spread the festival all over the world. Interestingly, the largest Pint of Science is now in Brazil, taking place in 60 cities (with many more asking to join).”

Take a look at the website for a full list of cities and events: https://pintofscience.com/.

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