Researchers' Night: Science at the shops

Shoppers of all ages enjoyed the liquid-nitrogen physics demonstrations. (Image: Sophia Bennett/CERN)

How do you explain science to the largest possible audience, and not just to science-lovers? One solution is to go where everyone ends up, at the shops. On 25 September, as part of European Researchers' Night, CERN organized the event POPscience at Balexert, a large shopping centre in Geneva. POPscience approaches scientific questions through popular culture. Comic strips, games, cinema and television… science is everywhere, and CERN scientists were there to explain it. Take a look at the photos below of the numerous activities organized. 

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A session on decoding science at the cinema for school children. (Image: Sophia Bennett/CERN)

Around 500 children attended the sessions for schools, and 600 spectators flocked to the public screenings at the centre’s multiplex cinema. Scientists, directors and authors were on hand to disentangle truth from fiction and science from science fiction in famous movies and TV series. The guests, some of whom appeared in person and others via video link, included Jorge Cham, author of PhD Comics and the spin-off film; David Saltzberg, physicist at the CMS experiment and scientific consultant for the television series The Big Bang Theory; Kip Thorne, scientific consultant for the film Interstellar; Lawrence Krauss, author of The Physics of Star Trek; and Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori, who gave a commentary on the film Gravity

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The astronaut Roberto Vittori gives a commentary on clips from the film Gravity. (Image: Sophia Bennett/CERN)

In the main area of the shopping centre, CERN scientists performed experiments and let the public try out augmented reality equipment. 

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Children enjoy fun physics experiments in the main area of the shopping centre. (Image: Sophia Bennett/CERN)

In the multimedia shop FNAC, authors were on hand to sign books.

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Jorge Cham, author of PhD Comics, signs his book in the FNAC bookshop. (Image: Sophia Bennett/CERN)

Shoppers enjoyed virtual tours of the CMS experiment via television screens, meanwhile physicists answered numerous questions.

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A virtual tour of the CMS experiment on the FNAC television screens. (Image: Sophia Bennett/CERN)

Among the shelves of youth literature, children were busy building Lego detectors. 

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A Lego workshop in FNAC’s children’s section. (Image: Sophia Bennett/CERN)