Can a blind person dream in colours in their sleep? Can the existence of Loch Ness monster be explained through scientific means? If time travel was possible, would there exist one or several timelines? These questions, among others, were presented to the researchers of the University of Pavia (Italy), University of Poitiers (France) and University of Turku (Finland) to find answers for through the methods of science. The Science Battle competition of the EC2U alliance of seven European universities was fought on the European Researchers’ Night on Friday, 24 September. The competition was organised though remote connections, via Zoom.
If you missed the Science Battle, you can still watch replay on Youtube.
Science Battle Brought Together Researchers from Different Disciplines
Science Battle was developed at the University of Turku in 2016. The joint European version has been developed together with the six other universities of the European Campus of City-Universities alliance (EC2U). Next year, the Universities of Coimbra, Iasi, and Jena will have their turn to compete against each other. On the Researchers’ Night of 2023, the final competition will be fought between the winners of the opening rounds, the Italian University of Pavia and the winner of 2022.
The teams of the universities were made of multidisciplinary groups of researchers from very different disciplines : physics, economics, mechanical engineering, anthropology, psychology, etc.
Competitors’ Devotion and Co-operation Received Praises from the Judges
In Science Battle, the researchers faced questions sent by the audience in advance. They had a couple of minutes to solve each question. The answers were awarded points by a panel of judges which consisted of experts from the other EC2U universities, the Universities of Coimbra, Iasi, Jena, and Salamanca. The teams could use three lifelines to help themselves: phone a friend, search the web, and ask the audience. The were awarded points both for the scientific reasoning behind their answers as well as their entertainment value.
The researchers tried for instance to answer the following questions :”would a person be able to see 200,000 coronaviruses located next to each other with their naked eye?” and “why clothes become darker when they are wet even though water is transparent”. They also got to ponder why some food cause allergies while other do not. The question “why do children play and adults do not?” was answered by the teams with a reference to the event: adults play, too, as the Science Battle itself was also playing.
The favourite question for many researchers was the question on time travel, as it allowed the researchers to think about the topic broadly from both a physical and philosophical starting point. The judges praised the competitors’ quick team work skills and ability to think about the questions from outside the box. They also applauded the demonstrations used by the competitors to explain their answers.