The future of humankind through the eyes of science
Ratio Fall 2019 presents what the perspective of genetics and tech development holdsValentina Spiridonova
Next week, the Ratio forum for popular science will once again bring together a plethora of international lecturers tasked with translating the beauty of science into everyday language. In the seven years since its inception, the forum has been able to attract lecturers from all around the world, who have revealed to its audience mysteries like where extraterrestrial life hides; how humankind can colonise Space; what mathematics models, dead people and malaria have in common; the psychology of ghosts; how the brain neurons work and so on and so forth.
However, the organisers of Ratio promise to outdo themselves on Sunday, 10 November.
Genetics offers a remarkable perspective on the collective past of humankind, illuminating the pattern of migration and unions that have formed the individual genetic heritage of each and every one of us. Thanks to human evolutionary genetics, we can now study our origins and understand our present. But what does the future of humanity hold? In what new directions will evolution take us and what forces will drive its progress? These are the questions on which the lectures of Austrian biotechnology expert and author of popular-science books Martin Moder and UK’s Jonathan Pettitt, reader in Genetics at the University of Aberdeen will focus.
“Human genetics is undoubtedly one of the hottest topics at the moment. Thus, at our Fall event we would like to explore the issue with human genetics from two aspects - on the one hand, to look at our past and see how much of our DNA we owe to the Neanderthals and how it is useful to us and on the other, to explore the future where we would use our knowledge of how genes work to purposefully alter and reprogram our DNA in order to be healthier, stronger, smarter ... better," Nikola Kerekov, part of Ratio's organisers explained to Europost.
Nevertheless, the stage of Sofia Event Centre on Sunday will also be graced by Robin George Andrews, a doctor of volcanology turned freelance science journalist who will prove to his audience once again how strange and fascinating the Solar System is. He will speak about earthquakes that can last for nine days without anyone noticing them on Earth and the diamond rains on Saturn. He will also tell visitors how on a moon of Jupiter, thanks to its awkward orbital ballet, the rock moves in the way that tides move on Earth, which fuels volcanic eruptions that outshine entire worlds.
For the first time ever, Ratio 2019 will also feature a parallel programme geared towards young explorers between the age of 8 and 12. These events will offer interesting scientific facts and more information about how the world around us works, allowing the kids to be active participants in the educational process rather than the usual passive listeners.
“Stoking interest in science and helping to develop analytical thinking from a young age are among the issues of great social importance in the modern world and therefore among our priorities this year,” Kerekov noted, adding that, in preparing the programme, they partnered with organisations with extensive experience in working with children like Muzeiko, Izzi Science for Kids, DNK - Kids Science Class, Fun Mathematics, and Space Academy.
The forum’s list of events will also be complimented by demo presentations on other curious scientific subjects during the breaks between the main lectures. More detailed information about the other topics and activities at the event can be found at Ratio's website and its Facebook page.