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In 2012, two research scientists at Imperial College London organised an event called ‘Meet the Researchers’. This event brought people affected by Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis into their labs to show them the kind of research they do, and was such a success that Drs Michael Motskin and Praveen Paul decided to expand on it. This was the birth of Pint of Science.

Pint of science back in saThe first Pint of Science festival was held in May 2013, creating a space for interaction between scientists and the public, fostering conversation over a pint of beer on the latest research and findings in science. The first event featured some of the biggest names in their fields, and subsequent festivals have seen well-known researchers and scientists explaining their ground-breaking work to lovers of science and beer.

This UK-based event came to South Africa in 2016, and is coming back to local shores this year. The three night festival will take place between 14 - 16 May in Cape Town.

This year’s topics include Beautiful Mind, which will cover neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry; Atoms to Galaxies, covering physics, chemistry, maths, and astronomy; and Our Body, looking at medicine, human biology, and health. Planet Earth, covering geosciences, plant sciences, and zoology; Tech Me Out, looking at biotechnology, robotics, and computers, and Our Society, dealing with law, history, politics, policy, and languages will also be discussed.

Chantal Louw, Director of Pint of Science South Africa, has called for local scientists to join the event. “I hope that scientists all over South Africa will use this as an opportunity to have a drink and chat to their community about their work. We aim to have events all over South Africa and are looking for speakers, volunteers, partners and chapter heads,” she says.

“Pint of Science has proven to be an exciting adventure for all involved, from people learning about scientific concepts for the first time, to experienced research being challenged in unexpected ways. It is a wonderful opportunity to bridge the gap, making science more accessible to people who would not usually engage in science, as well as ignite critical thinking,” says Dr Taime Sylvester, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the SA MRC Centre for Tuberculosis Research, Stellenbosch University.

“As South Africa moves to the forefront of research in a number of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) arenas, it is important to get everyone involved in science, from young to old, because the best ideas come from the most unlikely of people.”

Elodie Chabrol, International Director for Pint of Science explains that Pint of Science is held in more than 150 cities across 19 different countries. “When we created Pint of Science, we didn’t expect to expand so much and seeing it today on every continent is amazing. It’s also showing a need for scientists to share their research to the public that is hungry for science. South Africa is the first country in Africa to start Pint of Science and I hope it won’t be the last.”

Volunteers and interested members of the public can sign up for the event at http://www.pintofscience.co.za/. Scientists interested in contributing can contact Chantal Louw at pintofsciencesa@gmail.com.

Image credit: Copyright: kytalpa / 123RF Stock Photo

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