Science & Cocktails: E = My Cosmo x two

02 March 2016 - 02:30 By Ufrieda Ho

If you think string theory is for science nerds, you're probably not drinking enough.Science isn't all stuffy and inaccessible all of the time, sometimes it can be uncomplicated, fun even.That's how physicists Kevin Goldstein and Costas Zoubos feel about the likes of the theory of relativity, quantum physics or spacetime theory. And they are determined to share their love for science with anyone who is ready to hear it.It is why the pair from Wits University and University of Pretoria respectively, kicked off the Jozi chapter of Science and Cocktails in July last year. It is a concept imported from Copenhagen in Denmark - mixing entertainment and social life with science. It has caught on in a big way in Johannesburg."People are more embarrassed to admit they know nothing about Marxism than they are to say they don't understand science," said Goldstein of how easy it is to marginalise science from everyday life.Science's reputation for being exclusionary does come from a disconnect between scientists being ineffective communicators and journalists over-simplifying or misunderstanding science. It leads to distorted messages for the public.Goldstein believes science should be an integral part of public life. Understanding more means asking better questions and gaining a broader context to frame life's significant questions.He added: "Science and Cocktails is about making science more accessible. Hosting events in a setting like a club or bar makes science lectures more attractive to a different audience from the type of audience that may arrive at a university to listen to a lecture."Science and Cocktails use social media to attract a younger audience. Throwing in creative mixology with cocktails that have names like "penicillin" and "black hole", and including live music to end off lecture nights, keeps things relaxed and super informal. Holding events at night in the city centre also challenges ideas about the city being out of bounds midweek after dark.Goldstein said the concept creates a platform for people to ask questions and to engage with scientists casually on an equal footing. Johannesburg events are hosted at jazz club The Orbit and with funding from Denmark they have been able to keep the entry price down to R20 a ticket.Over the last few months, the Johannesburg chapter has held events on how insects see, navigate and orientate; understanding climate change; and delving into the key to human genetic variation.Next month, Vishnu Jejjala from Wits University will deliver a talk entitled The Atoms of Spacetime, looking into black holes, quantum gravity and the genius of Einstein.For regular Science and Cocktail attendee Neriel Hurwitz, the Science and Cocktails concept is a winner."It's intellectual, but informal and it's all non-profit. I don't know if it's me or the city, but events like these make me think Johannesburg really is finding its soul."Find out more about Science and Cocktail events on Facebook or http://www.scienceandcocktails.org/jozi/

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