A mind-boggling variety of issues at ESOF 2010

July 2, 2010

Welcome to the fourth biennial EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) conference in Turin, Italy.

Over the next five days, veteran as well as budding scientists; business people; entrepreneurs and innovators; policy makers; and science and technology communicators will discuss the latest in science and technology and also ways to bridge the gap between science and society and stimulate new science policies.

Their discussions extend beyond European borders to the advancement of science in developing countries and an African observatory for sustainable development. The Academy of Sciences of the Developing World (TWAS), one of SciDev.Net’s key supporters, will hold a session on science in Africa.

There will be a mind-boggling range of issues — food security; biotechnology and biodiversity; how to communicate climate change or agricultural research results; how to address governance issues in emerging technologies such as nanotech; and the debate on evidence-based policy and policy-biased evidence.

But there are other science matters that are borderless and that we take for granted in life. Do you, for example, know the origins and mechanisms of humour, and what happens as we grin, giggle or cackle with mirth? Or the exact explanation for some of evolution’s best-known innovations – a giraffe’s neck, an elephant’s trunk or a bat’s wing?

While on borderless science, I am delighted to find keynote speaker Raghavendra Gadagkar, from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, who will explain war and peace among his subjects — bees, wasps and ants.

And watchdogs will be discussed too — specifically, whether science journalists remain watchdogs of society. Are they losing that ability to alert against the misdeeds of science. Woof? I hope and think not. But what is your opinion?

T.V. Padma
South Asia Regional Coordinator, SciDev.Net

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