Mixing Beer and Science

Are quantum physics more intelligible after a beer or two? That might be an illusion, but you wouldn’t know it from the enthusiastic crowd who packed a Rehovot restaurant/pub last Thursday evening to hear a talk on the subject given by one of the Weizmann Institute’s research students. Even those imbibing out on the tiny, sweltering balcony, where the sound system barely reached, found themselves enjoying the atmosphere and the question-and-answer session, which continued on for over an hour after the talk.

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That scene repeated itself across town, from the Irish pub in the nearby science park, where Institute President Prof. Daniel Zajfman gave his talk on life on other planets; to the coffee shop where Prof. Israel Bar-Joseph, Vice President for Resource Development and Dean of Educational Activities, together with Rehovot mayor Rahamim Malul, led a discussion on science education; to the collection of bars, eateries, sushi and pasta places in the vicinity of the Institute. In addition to quantum physics, those interested in a little light enlightenment and refreshment had their choice of subjects ranging from nanophysics and dark matter to the brain, genetic engineering and decoding the gene code.

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The occasion was the 120th birthday of the city of Rehovot, home of the Weizmann Institute, and the evening was a joint effort by the Institute and the municipality. What better way to celebrate than hosting an evening of science talks?

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And lest you think that “Beer, Science and Good Spirits” was an adults-only affair, the evening opened with a kids’ event, where Weizmann students, as well as the writer and illustrator of the Nano Comics series created for the Weizmann Institute magazines, showed kids how to draw science-based comic strips. Not surprisingly, the story of Prof. Ada Yonath, who struggled for years in her single-minded pursuit of the ribosome structure and was awarded a Nobel Prize for her work last year, lent itself to retelling in the kids’ comic strips.

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