Experience science in a welcoming atmosphere
Long Evening of Science 2024 in review

Ulm University

When young researchers experiment with tablecloth pulling machines, autonomous cars take photos of visitors, and you can assist with a gastroscopy, then it's Long Evening of Science at Ulm University! Around 2000 people visited the campus on Friday, including numerous families. In a warm atmosphere, they got an idea of what the university is working on with lectures, hands-on activities and a children's programme. This year's highlight was the TechNight of the Faculty of Engineering, Computer Science and Psychology, which closed the evening with a spectacular show programme.

It looks like magic, but it's electrical engineering: in the packed lecture hall 4/5 at Ulm University on Friday evening, a cake floated in the air - thanks to magnets and an aluminium plate on which it was placed. The interactive show programme "On an experimental tour through the engineering sciences" was the highlight of the TechNight. Children from the audience made a light bulb light up by pedalling hard on a bicycle, found out whether a tin of peas or a tin of ravioli rolls down a ramp faster and how infrared light can be used to see the blood vessels under the skin. There were also plenty of exciting things to discover on Germany's highest campus away from the technology show: The four faculties and central facilities showcased the great diversity of the university, with more than 90 activities and lectures.

Visitors entering the Forum of Ulm University through the south entrance could hear the occasional clatter: physics students had set up a tablecloth pulling machine there. It worked perfectly - as long as you did not place the crockery too close to the edge of the table. Just around the corner, the Studierendenwerk had opened the doors to the new, modern cafeteria. How many errors can be built into a QR code before it stops working, how plastic can be melted down and how quantum microchips are created - you could see all this in the Forum and try many things out for yourself. Or chat with Pepper the robot using ChatGPT and learn how much maths is behind artificial intelligence. The Grand Prix, where you could programme racing cars and have them compete against each other, was particularly popular with the children. They could also learn how to measure their pulse with light and programme simple commands to help the penguin in a computer game find its way back home to its igloo.

At the To Train U (TTU) training hospital, guests were able to take a look behind the scenes: on guided tours of the high-tech simulation clinic, stitching up cuts or in the stressful role of a doctor in the shock room. There was also a selfie treasure hunt in the botanical garden. And if that was too wet for you in the constant rain, you could take part in the plant pub quiz about the role of plants in everyday life or take a look at the exhibition on fabulous Fabaceae. Incidentally, the pea is another such legume. And so back to the question of which can rolls down a ramp faster: peas or ravioli? The majority of the audience guessed ravioli - and they were wrong. Due to their inertia, the green pulses remain in their liquid and the can simply rolls around them. Viscosity is the measure of how viscous a liquid is - and it is significantly higher for ravioli sauce than for pea water.

The Long Evening of Science impressively demonstrated the dedication and passion with which Ulm University conducts research into the social challenges of the future and that its researchers also have a sense for the curious and the everyday - and showed how important it is to be close to the city and its citizens.

Text: Christine Liebhardt

Crowded Forum
Full house: The Long Evening of Science 2024 attracted numerous Ulm residents to the Eselsberg (Photo: Elvira Eberhardt / Ulm University)
[Translate to English:] Ein Mann in weißem Kittel bückt sich vor einer schwebenden Torte mit brennenden Kerzen
The TechNight show programme explained why the cake is floating (Photo: Elvira Eberhardt / Ulm University)
[Translate to English:] Draufsicht auf eine Gruppe Kinder, die um einen Tisch stehen, auf dem eine Rennstrecke aufgebracht ist
Which self-programmed car is the fastest and wins the Grand Prix? (Photo: Elvira Eberhardt / Ulm Univers
[Translate to English:] Besuchergruppe in einem Gewächshaus bei einer Führung
Many guests took the opportunity to visit the greenhouses of the Botanical Garden (Photo: Heiko Grandel / Ulm University)
[Translate to English:] Drei Menschen in einer OP-Übungssituation
Visitors were able to practise a minimally invasive operation in the To Train U training hospital (Photo: Heiko Grandel / Ulm University)