T. V. Padma
South Asia regional coordinator, SciDev.Net
Whichever way you look at it, there has been a delightful touch to some aspects of the Dublin ESOF, be it the river dance and poetry at the opening ceremony, or the informal closing ceremony in the foyer, with food and drinks being passed around. None of the stiff, formal speeches, and plenty of humour.
But as the conference closed, scientists did point out some of the unfinished European science agenda — an algorithm to predict the Irish weather.
There were stimulating science sessions, from astronomy and particle physics to genomics and personalized medicine; and some serious policy discussion, some of which will be discussed in our news reports this week.
The classic disconnect between promoters of and protesters against technology was on show in Dublin — while a session inside the venue tried to convince delegates about the virtues of shale gas fracking, there was demonstration outside. Some things remain the same.
There were other vignettes in between. My pick is the session with US president Barrack Obama’s pastry chef Bill Yosses, who demonstrated the art of making a perfect chocolate mousse using just chocolate and hot water, and no egg white. And he had a recipe for a very quick pomelo sorbet — using liquid nitrogen … err… to make it freeze, not as an ingredient.
The same session saw some discussion by Herve This from AgroParisTech, France, on the science behind making soufflés rise. (And for the grumblers wanting to know where the science is, it’s there — pressure, volume, temperature that make the soufflé rise.)
The field is called ‘molecular gastronomy’. To cut a long story short, there is some precision science behind why our mothers and grandmothers insist some things should be cooked in a particular way. They will have the last laugh as I end the conference blog with this story from Ireland.
And a thanks to the Robert Bosch Stiftung Foundation for its support to Asian journalists to report from ESOF.
This blog post is part of our ESOF 2012 blog which takes place 11-15 July, 2012. To read news and analysis on themes related to the conference please visit our website.