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How to manipulate your boyfriend’s brain

Scientists and enthusiasts come together at the Copenhagen Science Slam

In the company of dead bodies, old bodies indeed, wet and dry bodies, Mathilde Bauman is researching why the old Vikings, who settled in Greenland between 900 and 1400, all had tori in their mouth.

Wonder what tori are? They are a type of lesion on a bone in the mouth. Mathilde Bauman is ending her presentation:

»Most people from medical school want to find the cure for cancer or eradicate hunger. But my research doesn’t aim at saving the world. My research is only for the sake of knowing what we didn’t know before. It is science for the sake of science«.

See this photo gallery of Copenhagen’s Science Slam here.

Casting, then training

As the eight selected audience groups raise the number papers up to cast their votes, the remaining audience responds. ’8.7’ the hostess shouts and the audience cheers. ’4.6’ a guy beside me says, and the audience boohs. A girl comes over and presents her propaganda:

»No, really, he was the best one«.

It is the fourth time that the Copenhagen Science Slam invites passionate scientists on stage to present their research and win the hearts of the audience.

»And this time,« the hostess sings, »is the first time we have had to turn down participants. We have put them through casting, then through training. And now they are here!«


With a beer in hand and a friend by their sides, the audience eagerly listens to each of the six participants.

The first time less than a hundred showed up. Since then, the number has grown steadily and has forced Studenterhuset, who kindly put up the location for the event every half year, to move the show onto the big stage.

The stage seems big for some participants. They are obviously nervous. Even from a distance, you can tell. Their limbs look stiff, they walk either unnaturally slow or fast, the voice quirks and every now and then it falls out of tone or shakes.

The big question

Abdiel Alvarado takes the stage.

The hostess Helene presents him.
»So, Abdiel, you are the only non-Dane here. Where are you from?«
»And for how long will you stay?«
»Another two years«
»So, Abdiel, are you single?«

He relaxes: »Yes«

Reveals thought and emotions

The hostess leaves the stage and Abdiel takes over.

»I study optogenetics. It can teach you how to manipulate your boyfriends,« he laughs. »It may sound complicated but it is not. It pretty much just involves a mouse, his neurons and some light«.

Within the field of Human Biology, understanding how the billion of neurons in the brain work might reveal how thought and emotions are created. And how they can be controlled.

Is this science?

And this is the great thing about the event. Science, research, knowledge and ideas that most people never even know exists, are served straight.

All branches of academia were represented; from corporate management, energy, chemistry, medicine, anthropology to much more. What participants and audience share is a sparkling interest in what they didn’t know before. Some focus more on content, some on form. And there are always some who are critical.

»He sacrifices the methodology«. »She didn’t make that model tangible for me« or, as I guy in front of me said when we were discussing the participant who would later on win. »Is this really science? I miss some real science«

And before he could even finish, his girlfriend had a response: »Of course it is«, before adding, »just because you only like the harder sciences. This is just the social science, the science of how human beings interact«.

See our photo gallery of Copenhagen’s Science Slam here.

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