02/29/2016 18:07:59

The first Science Slam at Phystech: here is what happened

The first battle of Phystech scientists took place in the concert hall yesterday.

The Science Slam was officially opened by Tagir Aushev, the Vice-Rector for Scientific Affairs and Strategy. He noted that events in this format are very important, because it is not always enough to just be a smart and talented scientist, you must know how to convey to others what you have learned and have come up with. “I wish good luck to all participants and, as a saying goes, let the best win,” the Vice-Rector said.

The honorary first presenter was Oleg Feya, an experienced “Slam man”, the winner of the Moscow Science Slam, a graduate student of MIPT Computer-Aided Material Design Lab. In his “Surface Physics” presentation Oleg talked about various surfaces, why they can be hazardous to human health and why he wouldn’t inhale quartz. The audience was also shown a short film by IBM showing an animation of single atoms — “A Boy and His Atom”, which is, surprisingly, available at Kinopoisk.ru and stands with a good ranking there. For someone it is just a film, but for scientists it's a vivid demonstration that one can now manipulate matter at the atomic level. This, in turn, opens up new frontiers of research not only in surfaces, but in materials in general.

Oleg was succeeded on the stage with his lab colleague Valery Roizen with a quite popular topic: “How to make drugs more effective.” He explained why a drug that should be effective according to all the tests may turn out to be useless in real life.

Eugene Zhvansky of Ion and Molecular Physics Lab touched upon the issues that increasingly concern humanity, namely: when will we be able to create a full exoskeleton resembling the Iron Man suit, what the human machine interface will be like, what we have done and what is yet to be done in this area. “To do this, we will have to understand the physiology of muscle activity and electromyography, and then understand how to apply them to solve complex tasks of controlling mechanical systems,” Eugene said.

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The only lady presenter Anastasia Naumova, a chemist, talked about a very unusual matter. “The Lifeless Life” — this her topic provoked most questions and, at the first glance, misunderstanding; it was quite extraordinary, but comprehendible. Together with the audience she was deliberating the questions whether the chemical compositions of life forms could be more diverse, why carbon is one of the principal elements in organisms, and would it be possible that nitrogen people live out there in the universe.

The fourth participant in the battle — Aleksey Karpayev — surprised everyone with the fact that the same skills set is required in the tasks of increasing the production of “the black gold” and assessing the impact of drugs on a patient’s organ. He then shared his woes on how it is sometimes challenging to master mathematical modeling methods, but noted that they help solve many problems at a low cost and with minimal human resources.

Finally, the last speaker, Yuri Stebunov, who eventually turned out to be the winner of the Science Slam at Phystech, talked about how to develop drugs without experimenting on humans and animals by relying on modern technologies. “The use of optical biosensors and two-dimensional nanomaterials will significantly speed up the process of creating drugs and help conquer incurable diseases,” says Yuri with full confidence.

Vivid performances, witty jokes and loud applause all suggest that the event was a success, and, most importantly, it was enjoyable to the audience and to the participants alike.

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