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EuroScience Open Forum 2020

Recap of ICTP's presence at the Forum

02/09/2020 - Trieste

The 2020 EuroScience Open Forum opened in early September in Trieste, ICTP's home city, and ICTP was proud to be represented and presenting at the forum! Focusing on connections between science and society, the hybrid online and in-person event hosted over 700 speakers and experts.

On Wednesday 2 September, the first day of the event, the ESOF Opening Ceremony followed early morning talks, with former ICTP colleague Anna Lombardi, now a data journalist at the Times of London, as the Master of Ceremonies. The opening event can be streamed here:

At the ceremony, the Director of CERN, Fabiola Gianotti, spoke as head of the biggest international scientific collaboration.

"Scientific research is not just knowledge: it's a value system ... One of the foundation stones for a better world is a more prominent role for science - which is fundamental to promote critical thinking and to reduce inequalities." Gianotti.

The urgency and challenge of dealing with climate change was the focus of another session, featuring Filippo Giorgi, distinguished climate scientist and Head of ICTP's Earth System Physics Section, and Valerie Masson-Delmotte, the Co-Chair of Working Group 1 of the International Panel on Climate Change.

On Thursday 3 September, ICTP Director Atish Dabholkar was a speaker in a session organized by IIASA, entitled "Building Bridges: Big Research Infrastructures for Diplomacy and Global Engagement Through Science."

Claudio Tuniz, ICTP scientist, organized a panel session with the title "Extending the Body into Digital Technology: An Evolutionary Perspective" based on the urgency to understand the key role of intelligent technologies to plan a sustainable future. The same topic was also discussed during a public event at Museo Revoltella as part of the activities of the Science in the City Festival.

ICTP's sister organization, TWAS (The World Academy of Sciences), organized an event to discuss how to better support scientists who have fled their home countries for various reasons. "Permanent Insecurity: A Science International strategy to support displaced and refugee scientists and science students" was moderated by InterAcademy Partnership's Peter McGrath.

Children and adults played "Scienziopolis" at Magazzino27, as part of the Science in the City Festival. Scienziopolis is a game designed by six of the major science institutions of Trieste, i.e.: ICTP, INAF, ELETTRA, Università di Trieste, SISSA and OGS, and has the goal to promote the collaboration and teamwork which is essential in science research. Scienziopolis was played at Magazzino27 on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, and it moved to Piazza Unità on Friday and Saturday to be part of the Maker Faire.

The Maker Faire Trieste was held on Friday and Saturday, this year without the "Mini" description of past years. The larger festival, organized by the co-heads of ICTP's Science Dissemination Unit, Carlo Fonda and Enrique Canessa, also moved to a different location: it was not on the ICTP terrace anymore, but in Piazza Unità d'Italia in the center of Trieste.

On Saturday 5 September, the "World Science Café" was the public event organized by ICTP for the Science in the City Festival, in order to bring the spirit and discussions of ESOF from the closed rooms of Porto Vecchio to the city centre. ICTP scientists sat at the tables of the historical Caffè Tommaseo (respecting Covid social distancing of course), talking with the public about their research, in a multitude of languages, from Spanish to Hindi.

On Sunday 6 September, the final day of ESOF, Rosario Fazio, head of ICTP's Condensed Matter and Statistical Physics section, organized a keynote session on "Emerging Technologies: The New Quantum Revolution Era".

Lectures included one on "Optimal transport, from nature to machine learning" by mathematician Alessio Figalli, a distinguished academic who won mathematics' highest honor, the Fields Medal, in 2018. ICTP mathematician Claudio Arezzo helped invite Figalli to speak at ESOF in Trieste.

Marc Mézard, head of the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris and speaker for ICTP's 2020 Salam Distinguished Lectures, spoke during a session entitled "Recent progress in artificial intelligence: what impact on science and on society?"

ESOF's closing ceremony was full of talks by high profile public figures in Italy and prominent scientists. Most prominently, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte gave a speech, mentioning ICTP as a symbol of excellence in international collaboration:

"The development of the "Trieste System" - which the birth of the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), together with the other institutes, research centers […] helped to make so significant - represents a unique model of international collaboration and "scientific diplomacy." Yes, because diplomacy, coexistence, is also pursued through the powerful tools of scientific knowledge.
In my opinion, this peculiar trait of Trieste's identity can still constitute an example today for a European strategy of international development cooperation, aimed at fostering solid and peaceful relations between countries, based on constant dialogue between scientific communities and on the more fruitful circularity of knowledge. […]
Every time, you see, that the meeting point is the common interest in the progress of humanity and the construction of peace, Trieste can be our model. Quoting Abdus Salam (founder of the ICTP), "scientific thought and its creation is the common and shared heritage of humanity."" Conte

The closing ceremony ended with the handover of ESOF Trieste 2020 to Leiden, European City of Science 2022 and next host of ESOF, at the presence of Leiden European City of Science 2022 Champions Ferry Breedveld and Corinne Hofman.

The closing ceremony can be streamed here: