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Making science taste better

When you go out to a pub with a group of friends, loads of topics are discussed, but when was the last time you chatted about cyborgs or black holes?

Photograph: Science and Beers

Text: Michaela Medveďová

So, where is this magical place, you ask? If you visit Science and Beers at Studenterhus Odense, you can enjoy a series of lectures where scientific speakers talk about topics ranging from fat cells and drones to climate change and alcohol effects on the liver - while the audience enjoys a beer or two. What’s not to love?

Michael Magee, a marine biologist by education who now works at Ungdomshuset Odense to inspire interest in science amongst young people, started the series in autumn 2018. It kicked off with a talk from the curator of TEDxOdense, Adam Montandon, about how he created the first government-recognised cyborg. He drew in a crowd of 50. “People willingly skipped their last class at the university to come. But they still went to an educational talk.”

“We didn’t have space for them. If people are angry because they can’t get into a science talk, you’ve done well.”

The purpose of Science and Beers is to make science accessible and normalise talking about science in a social setting, such as over a few beers with your friends. A successful mission - 200 people wanted to attend the events during the second season. “We didn’t have space for them. If people are angry because they can’t get into a science talk, you’ve done well. It should be as exciting to come to a science talk as a rock concert.”

Mick selects his scientific speakers because they are good communicators. The project recently received 250 thousand DKK from Novo Nordisk, which means Mick can attract scientists from all over Denmark or abroad. Having kicked off in March, this year should bring two seasons of Science and Beers.

The speakers are excited about the beer - but mainly about the audience’s questions. The talks are open to everyone - there’s no need to have any scientific knowledge. “Since I finished university, I missed going to lectures. I’m sure others miss it, too - and they should have access to the latest science. So I’d encourage more people to start science communication projects. The more accessible science is with projects like Science and Beers, the more trust there is in science.”

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