ESOF 2014: What to expect

Friday 20 June 2014 21.55

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By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

Robotic warfare. Big data. The Arctic. Drugs. Mining the Moon. Smart pills. Antibiotic resistance.

Just a tiny handful of the weighty topics that will be grappled with in Copenhagen over the coming week, as the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) 2014 gets underway.

Billed as the premier science event of the year, ESOF 2014 will see 4,500 participants from 75 countries descend on the Danish capital for six days of science research, science policy, science communication, science shows and presumably, science fun.

First held in Stockholm in 2004, ESOF is held every two years. It’s an interdisciplinary, pan-European meeting, held under the auspices of Euroscience – a non-profit body whose aims include showcasing the latest advances in science and technology, promoting a dialogue on the role of science and technology in society and public policy and stimulating and provoking public interest, excitement and debate about science and technology.

The last one was hosted here in Dublin in 2012 and featured lectures from a number of internationally renowned scientists, including James Watson, Charles Bolden and Rolf-Dieter Heuer. It was considered, broadly, to have been a success, drawing large crowds, and provoking an unusual level of discussion and interest in science among the general public.

This year, Copenhagen aims to build on the successful aspects of ESOF 2012. The theme is Science Building Bridges, and the speakers list includes no less than six Nobel laureates, including Serge Haroche and Brian Schmidt.

There will also be a political element, with President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barosso opening the festival, and EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, also speaking on Tuesday. While Government Scientific Advisors from around Europe will hold their first ever meeting (which is pretty surprising in itself) at ESOF. There will also be a business and industry element too.

Running in tandem with the conference schedule will also be a free Science in the City Festival, where visitors will be able to see up close science, innovation and research being demonstrated. 85 organisations, from 20 countries will be taking part. This aspect proved particularly popular when the event was held in Dublin two years ago and this year, 30,000 visitors are expected to attend it.

As you’d expect with a festival of this size, many Irish scientists will be travelling to Copenhagen to speak at and attend ESOF 2014. Maura Hiney from the Health Research Board, Professor Rob Kitchin from NUI Maynooth and Dr Sandra Collins from the Digital Repository of Ireland are just some of the Irish researchers lecturing at the event.

The event should deliver plenty of news, provoke much debate and showcase a lot of excellent science over the course of the week. And RTÉ will be at the event venue, the old Carlsberg factory, to bring you all the latest news, debates and analysis from what will “probably” be the most lively science festival in Europe this year! Stay tuned!

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