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Popular research on the menu

Researchers at Aarhus University went out of their way to make their knowledge appetising for the more than 1,000 members of the public who attended the Festival of Research in Stakladen on Thursday 27 April. Here, visitors could learn more about everything from lamas to life in space.

2017.05.01 | Ida Hammerich Nielson

The physics and chemistry shows are regular events at the Festival of Research, and true to tradition delivered entertaining and dramatic experiments. Photo: Lars Kruse

Mogens Christensen, an associate professor in chemistry, tells the audience about the fascinating world of magnetism. Photo: Lars Kruse

Mathematics is not just about numbers – and it can also be beautiful. A PhD student demonstrated this using small sculptures. Photo: Lars Kruse

Several children had found their way to the Festival of Research. Photo: Lars Kruse

For a single day, Stakladen put research on the menu as the university’s historic meeting place provided the setting for this year’s Festival of Research. The atmospheric room and adjoining facilities were packed with curious visitors and enthusiastic researchers who were standing ready to talk about their research into a wide range of subjects from Parkinson’s disease and selfies to sublime mathematics. More than 30 researchers from all four faculties participated in this year’s extensive programme of presentations and talks.

Magnetic research
At the ‘Sophisticated magnets’ stand, Mogens Christensen, an associate professor in chemistry, is surrounded by a plethora of magnets, pipes, aluminium foil, mobile telephone parts and various gadgets. He takes a magnet and lets it fall through a roll of aluminium foil. It moves surprisingly slowly. Then he drops the magnet through a copper tube. It seems to take forever before the magnet slowly emerges, almost as if it was floating, at the other end.

“This is because the magnetic fields are opposing each other,” explains the associate professor, and goes on to talk about how magnets are found everywhere around us in our daily lives and are used, among other things, to generate electricity.

Mogens Christensen is participating in the Festival of Research because he wants to share his research with the world at large.

“I want to give something back, and show taxpayers what they are getting for their money. It’s important that we researchers get out and talk about our research – in particular why we do the research we do. And it’s actually quite fun. People ask very good questions, and in this way the Festival of Research can be an eye-opener for both researchers and the public alike,” he says.

Schoolchildren intrigued by the research
Two visitors to the magnet stand are Søren Landkildehus and Søren Kronborg, both from Year 7 at Risskov School, who were visiting the Festival of Research on their own initiative. 

“I’m very interested in chemistry and maths and everything that helps us to understand how the world works,” says Søren Landkildehus.

Both boys nod to the question of whether they would like to study science at university one day.

The Festival of Research at Aarhus University is part of the Ministry of Higher Education and Science’s annual nationwide science festival which takes place in week 17 with more than 600 events and 75,000 visitors around Denmark. 


Photographs from the day can be found at www.au.dk/fd

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