Art and science in harmony

On 21 November 2023, the 11th edition of the Science Gala was held in the sold-out hall of the International Theater in Amsterdam. new worldEditor-in-Chief Jim Janssen introduced the evening and brain scientist Eric Scherder was the moderator. It was a wonderful evening in which art and science perfectly merged.

She opened with the band LÜNA new worldEditor-in-Chief Jim Jansen Presentation. On the big screen, the audience watched curator Eric Scherder hurriedly cycle to the International Theater in Amsterdam, where he was greeted with a standing ovation. The evening began with the main topic: art and science.

Coordinator Eric Schrader (left) and presenter Jim Janssen (right) open the Science Gala 2023. Photo: Bob Bronshoff.

Interesting research

The first speaker, Samuel Staebler, entered the stage in his street musician garb. He began Knocking on heaven’s door To sing, then he asked: Will you give me money for this simple performance? What followed was an interesting lecture filled with statistics about ideal conditions for street musicians. It turns out: “Of all the street musicians, children actually earn the most.”

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Also impressive is the research conducted by embryologist Bernadette de Backer. She was named New Science Talent of 2023 by a professional jury, and in a live interview she spoke enthusiastically about her research in fetal imaging. “Through my research, I eventually want to train ultrasound equipment with AI to automatically recognize congenital malformations. There is still a lot that we are missing right now,” she said.

Cognitive scientist Maartje Raemakers then asked the audience to think about curiosity. She talked about her own research, with the main question: How do you spark curiosity? The audience was also allowed to be the guinea pig. “Which of these works of art would you rather look at longer?” asked Raemakers.

Scholar Samuel Stebler opens his mini-lecture with music on the ideal conditions for street musicians. Photo: Bob Bronshoff.
He. She new world Science Talent of the Year 2023, Bernadette De Backer, speaks in a live interview about her research into fetal imaging. Photo: Bob Bronshoff.


There was a lot to celebrate at the ceremony. The winner of the Robert Dijkgraaf Essay Award was also announced for the best essay entitled: Without art, there is no science.

“We have read a lot again,” said jury president Rene Rypma, editor-in-chief of AD. As I slowly opened the envelope containing the winner, there was intense tension in the audience and on stage. “The winner is Sophie Zwertbruck!” Zwertbruck was speechless. ‘What do you think that?’ Jansen asked. “Ah… great,” Zwertbruck replied, clearly proud but also surprised.

The lights were then dimmed and the audience was drawn in by dancer Hannah Kreutzberg, who gave a masterful interpretation of the winning essay with her dance.

Sophie Zwertbruck (center) receives the 2023 Robert Dijkgraaf Essay Prize. Photo: Bob Bronshoff.
Dancer Hannah Kreutzberg gives a masterful interpretation of the winning essay. Photo: Bob Bronshoff.

Don’t sit still

Scherder said many studies show that after sitting for half an hour you need to move again. “You’ve been sitting for more than half an hour! So I would say, ‘Get off your chair!'” Schrader moved the entire room twice.

The first time the audience had to play for three minutes Squatting– Making movement. The second time, the concertgoers cheerfully sang “front to back, left to right.” Although some were hesitant at first, the entire audience eventually unabashedly joined in.

Brain scientist Eric Schrader moves the entire room. Photo: Bob Bronshoff.

Passion for art

An art-filled evening is certainly not complete without drawing. Artist Ellert Jan van der Kleis displayed some of his artwork on stage. Schrader said he had a stroke at the age of 43, which led to him losing the ability to speak. This makes it difficult for the artist to express his words. However, Van der Kleis was able to excellently convey his love for art to the audience. she is very beautiful. “Wonderful,” he said of the painting.

One of the party’s old acquaintances, Robert Dijkgraaf, also has a great passion for art. “My student room was full of paintings,” he said during an interview with Janssen. “At art school I learned to be a researcher. There I learned to try a lot of things,” Dijkgraaf said.

Robert Dijkgraaf (left) talks about his passion for the arts in a live interview.

Integrating research and art

The break was followed by a small lecture on the impact of city spatial planning on how people interact with their environment. Scientist Frank Sornbrock studies this from the perspective of neural engineering, while artist Titia X approaches the topic from the perspective of light art. “Light is an experience,” she said as the lights above dimmed the audience and the lights swung in an undulating motion across the room.

Marine biologist Lisa Picking also incorporated art into her presentation on biodiversity loss in coral reefs. “We have to look more creatively than just doomsday scenarios,” she said. The audience received tickets with a unique combination of the smell of sea air, seaweed and neoprene wetsuits. This way we can feel connected to the sea for a moment.

Then political scientist Jan Tilly emphasized the importance of creative thinking for scientific research. After Theo van Gogh was killed, he conducted research on extremism in society. “This was the most challenging research I have ever done,” he said. It was very interesting politically. Then some creativity is needed.

During a short lecture by marine biologist Lisa Picking, the audience can smell a card full of sea scents. Photo: Bob Bronshoff.
Political scientist Jan Tilly (left) has conducted research on extremism in society. Photo: Bob Bronshoff.

Failed experiments

Fine art can also arise from science itself. Bioengineer Loes Segerink proved this in a funny way while sharing photos of failed experiments in the lab. Frustrations in the lab also led to a beautiful photo series by photographer Bianca Sistermans. For example, we saw a photo of a completely filled chemical waste bin that had not been emptied by any laboratory staff.

Bioengineer Luce Siegerink (left) and photographer Bianca Sistermans (right) show funny and beautiful photos from the laboratory. Photo: Bob Bronshoff.

At the end of the evening, physicist Ivo van Volpen and composer Merlin Tolfhoven summarized the theme of the evening. They showed that you can make the invisible visible with art, for example to study galaxies. “We need equipment to expand our senses,” Van Volpen said.

This becomes clearer through art and is also evident in a painting by Judith van der Meer. During the presentation, I painted a beautiful spiral nebula that expands, like the real universe, when you look at it in a different light.

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Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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