Friday, May 3, 2013

Cafe Scientifique Comes to Town

If you have science on the brain and live in the UAE, there's some good news for you. Dubai has just seen its first Cafe Scientifique, an event at which scientists, science-minded and science-curious people alike talk about, well, science. But instead of a lecture hall or some other relatively sterile venue, these are held in a discussion format in casual cafe ambiance. Specifically, Cafe Lila in TECOM. The clean, white decor greatly added to the lab-like "scienciness" of the vanue. It's also a 10 minute walk from home for me.

Roberts' journey to the edge

It's apparently an originally British concept, developed to help bring science to the public, and have now spread around the world. Rohan Roberts, a Dubai-based teacher and professional developer at Winchester School, is the organizer of these events, and is known to be a proponent of science in these parts. He actually organized an astronomy art exhibition not too long ago, and his being a teacher of literature while being deeply interested in and involved with science is a prime example of what Cafe Scientifique is all about.

Bidshahri expounds

The first topic of the season was cosmology, specifically "The Edge of the Universe". After an introductory note by fellow teacher Lara Matossian-Roberts, Roberts and one of his students, the intellectually prodigious Raya Bidshahri, began with an imagined narrative of a journey from earth to the edges of the cosmos, aided by slides. This was followed by a brief meet-and-greet, a documentary clip, and a long discussion of time travel, the "shape" of the universe and the speed of light. I think everyone had a great time, as many of us hung around long after the farewell note to continue the discussion.

Bidshahri, Roberts and Matossian-Roberts

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