Fungi is in the house

Summary

The lab isn’t the only place for science. The Belgian Federal Science Policy’s (Belspo) Nacht van de onderzoekers, or Night of the Researchers, is devoted to “Science at home”, in which Flemish scientists will show how their research affects our daily lives – today and tomorrow. Find out why our jeans aren’t washed with stones anymore and taste the delicacies of the future: grasshoppers and caterpillars.

© Royal Museum for Central Africa
 
© Royal Museum for Central Africa

Night of the Researchers explores the impact of science on our daily lives

The lab isn’t the only place for science. The Belgian Federal Science Policy’s (Belspo) Nacht van de onderzoekers, or Night of the Researchers, is devoted to “Science at home”, in which Flemish scientists will show how their research affects our daily lives – today and tomorrow. Find out why our jeans aren’t washed with stones anymore and taste the delicacies of the future: grasshoppers and caterpillars.

Night of the Researchers is a popular science event supported by the European Commission and takes place in about 300 cities on the same night every year. In Flanders, everyone is invited to explore scientific possibilities during interactive shows, hands-on experiments and workshops at the Botanique in Brussels.

Dancers and video artists will make it a night to remember at the Planetarium, where a programme explains how the interaction between the earth, moon and sun regulates our lives. The patron of the event presumably already knows: VRT weatherman Frank Deboosere.

Washing with enzymes

Enzymes caused a revolution in washing products. It might sound like something from a TV advert, but it is a scientific reality. A “housewife” at a stand hosted by the Flemish Institute for Biotechnology will tell you how scientific breakthroughs in these biological molecules have made it easier to remove the greasiest stains from clothing – with less energy, less water and less soap.

This scientific progress has ensured that our jeans no longer have to be washed with pumice stones drenched in environmentunfriendly acid. This “stonewashing” was common until recently, to soften jeans and give them a worn look. Enzymes are not only applied in washing but in various activities such as tanning leather and baking bread.

The Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) will make you look with different eyes at the materials in your living room, as you discover the evolution to the use of more sustainable materials. For designers, VITO developed the Ecolizer, a measuring system to determine, for example, whether a wooden chair is better for the environment than one made of steel. And VITO’s analyses of sustainability have lead to the creation of a new sort of lightweight brick.

The institute illustrates the importance of recycling by referring to examples like the amount of gold in our mobile phones. A large mural is the result of brainstorming sessions with other scientists on life in the future, and artist Luc Schuiten has drawn his image of the “vegetal city” of the future.

Insects on the menu

At a cooking demonstration, Tervuren’s Royal Museum for Central Africa will try to convince you that insects should not be considered just creepy-crawlies but part of your daily diet. Not only is it less polluting to cultivate insects instead of livestock, they are healthy: Insects are rich in proteins, iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorous and vitamins B and D. And a grasshopper, for example, is 50 to 75% protein, while meat may be only 18%.

Europe is still discovering this food, but in other parts of the world it is considered a delicacy: More than 1,700 insect species are eaten in Africa, Asia and the United States. To persuade visitors, scientists will present a website that contains all the scientific info, plus recipes and therapeutic applications.

28 September, 18.00-23.00

Botanique

Koningsstraat 236, Brussels

www.nachtvandeonderzoekers.be

 

Fungi is in the house

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