TEDxCERN – A Scientific Knowledge-Sharing Moment

By Camille Saadé, traducción española Jennifer Casado Gomez-Shallti
12 May 2013

On 3rd May 2013, the TEDxCERN event took place in Geneva at the Globe of CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), a conference site and a discussion and sharing forum between science and society. All day long, scientists, philosophers and historians went on scene to present new cutting-edge research and innovations in different fields that could play a major role in the future of science.  

ICVolunteers contributed to the success of the event by providing interpreters who had the hard task to interpret into French the speeches of a dozen speakers. 

During this early May afternoon, a lot of ideas worth spreading were shared. This is the slogan of TEDx, a conference program organized independently, where videos, animations and speakers are presenting the breakthrough and innovative experiences in their field in a maximum of 15 minutes. At ICVolunteers, we are used to TEDx conferences: we cooperated in the past with the ICRC and CERN for such events. 

TEDxCERN, divided in three sessions, raised much interest among participants. People had to wait a long time and the rooms were full before the first session started, introduced by George Smoot, an astrophysicist, and Sergio Bertolucci, a physicist and research director at the CERN. After the witty performance of the singer Maria Ferrante, explaining through a song how galaxies are created, the attendees had the chance to discover a number of ambitious and accessible projects, such as the one presented by the astronomer Chris Lintott. By bringing together on the online platform Zooniverse, a series of observations from ordinary citizens, everyone is able to contribute to the discovery or the classification of new planets, directly from home. “Humans make fewer mistakes than computers, the public doesn’t make mistakes”, he said. Marc Abrahams made also a presentation full of humor about some of the laureates of the IG Nobel Price, awarding absurd and amusing research, such as the very serious studies about how to make a frog levitate with magnets or how to create diamonds with tequila.

After a coffee break and another vocal performance of Maria Ferrante, called "Caffeine", the second session began. Following a round of questions and answers on the role of individuals, computers and robots on the future of science between Chris Lintott and Tara Shears, a particle physicist, the citizen dimension was also highlighted. The historian Londa Schiebinger talked about the difficulties than women encounter in the science sector and the notion of gender in a predominantly male environment. “Gender bias in society creates gender bias in the fields of knowledge in general.”

During the third and final session, the emphasis was on Higgs boson, an important discovery made at CERN. Gian Giudice, a theoretical physicist, presented what this element means for the future of the universe. A day will come when the properties of the Higgs field could change and lead to the destruction of the universe. Fortunately, it will not happen soon. “It will take a lot of time, more than Italy needs to form a stable government,” he said ironically, to conclude his presentation. 

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