The Science Slam is a competition in which scientists deliver engaging and entertaining presentations about the topics they work on and are excited about. It gives them a unique opportunity to let the audience have a sneak peek at their current research.
The scientists are put into the role of entertainers and the audience becomes their jury. On the stage of the packed Scala University Cinema, six women scientists from Masaryk University (MU), the Brno University of Technology (BUT) and Mendel University (MENDELU) took turns with their performances. The event was hosted by Petr Holík. All were applauded, as was Markéta Brabcová from the Centre for Gender & Science, who delivered a non-competitive presentation on how gender issues are reflected in the context of research, development and innovation.
The first speaker was Jana Kolářová from the BUT Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Communication with her presentation titled “Seeing the heart in a different light”. She used a large plush heart to demonstrate why the perfectly synchronised functioning of the heart is a result of the interplay of electrical and mechanical energy. She also presented research in the field of experimental cardiology.
“Do you like superheroes? Have you seen at least one movie in the Avengers franchise? Who is your favourite? Spider-Man, Iron Man or Captain America?” asked Markéta Kulhánková from the MU Faculty of Arts at the beginning of her presentation, in which she introduced a forgotten Byzantine “Avenger” in an engaging narration illustrated by three actors. According to her, the 12th-century Ranger was an ancient predecessor of modern superheroes, whom some admire and others regard as a product of low-brow entertainment culture.
Helena Pluháčková from the Faculty of AgriSciences at MENDELU introduced the audience to the science of medicinal herbs. “Medicinal plants have a complex and long-term effect that requires a deeper understanding. We cannot expect that one cup of sage tea will cure a sore throat,” said the scientist. In her allocated time, she explained the differences between herbal teas as dietary supplements and pharmaceutical drugs.
Simona Fialová from the BUT Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, who named her presentation “Hydrophobia in Practice (to stick or not to stick)”, bet on a strong acting component. Using specific examples of the water-measurer bugs moving on water and water-repelling surfaces, she introduced the audience to the principles of hydrophobia and hydrophilia.
“Have you ever forgotten your mobile phone on your bedside table and only found out after you arrived in the office? Have you ever got a cold sweat on your forehead when the technology failed, WiFi went down and you couldn’t connect to an online meeting?” asked Martina Rašticová from the Faculty of Business and Economics at MENDELU. Her presentation entitled “Oh the technology!” focused on the phenomenon of “technostress” in all its forms and manifestations, and gave some advice on how to deal with it and why we don’t have to be afraid.
The last presenter was obstetric anaesthesiologist Hana Harazim from the MU Faculty of Medicine with a presentation entitled “Why not to be afraid of labour pains?” “Many pregnant women experience fear of the pain they will feel during childbirth. That is why it is good to know that there are many ways to relieve labour pains,” said the scientist, who showed the audience a needle with a thin tube to insert an epidural or a device through which a woman who is giving birth can regulate the dose of painkillers.
In the end, Hana Harazim received the most votes from the audience and was declared the winner of the 13th Science Slam – the first organised as a face-to-face event after a two-year pandemic hiatus. Šárka Pospíšilová, MU vice-rector for research and doctoral studies, congratulated her on her victory and also praised Markéta Kulhánková’s performance.