How do you communicate frontier science? This is the focus of a science communication meeting at La Palma, Canary Islands, in October – the first edition of the 100xCiencia Conference: Communicating Frontier Science.
The conference is providing grants for about 30 students and young science journalists, myself included, from countries across Europe, including Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Portugal, Serbia, Spain and Sweden.
Such opportunities for paid travel to talk about our profession are few and far between, but usually prove valuable in terms of networking and generating ideas. I have argued before that we lack such opportunities in the Balkans, where research institutes and science ministries have yet to realise the full potential of science outreach and working with media. It’s great to see that Spain is ahead of the curve.
The forum aims to bring the science of 20 Spanish research centres (recognized via the “Severo Ochoa” (SO) programme of excellence) closer to the media and to the general public.
These centres cover most sciences, from astrophysics and mathematics to the environment and biomedicine, as well as the humanities.
“It will also be a forum in which to debate communication and outreach in science,” its website says. “Via round table discussions, and talks by communicators and international journalists, a debate will be promoted about communication strategies and the impact of science on the media and society.”
“We want to stimulate and create new forms of collaboration which will let us bring our research closer to society in general, and especially to young people,” says Rafael Rebolo, the chairman of the Organizing Committee, on the website. “The future of a society is closely bound to the quality of its science, the work and dedication of its scientists, but also the support and the technical resources they receive. It is essential to increase public interest in science in order to maximize this support. For that reason we want, and indeed we need to improve the way we transmit the work of science on behalf of everybody.”
Conference participants will get a chance to visit the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (ORM). “This Observatory, administered by the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands -the Severo Ochoa center which hosts this first 100xCIENCIA- is recognized as one of the best astronomical observatories in the world,” the website says. “At 2,400 meters high, at the summit of La Palma, this observatory is home to a full battery of telescopes, including the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS, the largest optical-infrared telescope in the world.”