The art of science slamming

If you have never seen a science slam, you should. Scientists talking about their favorite topic in an understandable manner is something everyone should have seen. And if this weren’t amazing enough one of the talks might even impact your daily life. Like the one Giulia Enders held about our digestive system.

What do you need to know about science slamming?

First, science slams make seemingly boring scientific research a lot of fun.
Second, you will hear about scientific topics you have never heard of before.
And third, whether you like it or not: you will learn something.

In the last 10 years, science slams have developed in particular all over Europe as a new form of science communication. Science slamming originated in Germany and has been gaining worldwide popularity ever since. The first german science slam took place in 2006 in Darmstadt. Since 2008 you can attend science slams all over Germany on a regular basis in many german cities. In 2010 science slamming reached Vienna.

Basically, a science slam is an entertaining talk where scientists present their own research in a given time frame – usually about 10 minutes – in front of a non-expert audience. The presentation is judged by the audience. Usually, science slams are open to all fields of science. But there are also special slams concentrating on particular topics, such as technical science, health science or sociological science.

Science slamming in Vienna

The topic doesn’t matter that much as how it is presented. The winner of the science slam hosted at the University of Vienna at its Campus Festival this june talked about a very mundane thing: killing her plants. Her biological research consists in finding out which kind of plant dies the faster death if she kills them slowly by dehydration. Another competitor talked about bibliometrics, the science of counting references in academic publications such as books and articles. The speaker introduced the phrase “academic dick measurement contest” as a fitting metaphor to describe the way bibliometrics helps academics to explore their impact on their field of study. The runner-up of this science slam presented a sociological study about the discrimination of polyamorous people in everyday life and illustrated how polyamory works using glove puppets from the “Kasperltheater”. Another competitior, a german philology student, talked about her use of the term “body-identity” to explore the way the protagonists of the book “The man without qualities” (Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften) interact with each other, illustrating their physical interactions with soft toys.

If you now can’t resist the urge to go and watch a science slam, visit to find the next dates. 😉


Header image credits royalty free


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About Verena Ehrnberger

Verena works as a data privacy legal expert and studies philosophy at the University of Vienna. Always juggling multiple projects, she is seriously addicted to coffee.

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