“This was the happiest moment in my life, believe me..”

said Alex Popa, one of the performers at yesterday’s 3rd ScienceSLAM Helsinki. The 3rd ScienceSLAM Helsinki has been an event of superlatives in many ways. In Korjaamo’s fully packed Kulmasali, a record number of over 270 curious city-dwellers gathered to observe the performances of six bold scientists presenting their research topics at the sold-out event.

The atmosphere was loaded with excitement when Sofia Ahola-Erkkilä was entering the stage to start the event with her story about a far-away kingdom, beautiful princesses, evil enemies and brave heroes – on the way explaining the role of DNA maintenance in mitochondria, our cells’ energy factories, and its role in hypoxic insults such as cardiac arrests. Terhi Rasilo, the second performer in line, did not need any words to present her research topic. Accompanied by Olli Attila on the piano, Terhi invited the audience to sit back and dive with her into the wonders of the carbon cycle, dancing her way from the atmosphere through the trees to the ground, and from ground with the water through the lakes back to the atmosphere.

The evening’s third performer, Alex Popa, a computer scientist from Aalto University, showed us why maths is essential in computer science – by using everything from a magic tie knot to a life karaoke experiment with the audience. Siiri Viljanen’s presentation “Utilization of sulfite spent liquor for chemical production” was next in the line-up. To the horror of the organizers, Siiri was nowhere to be found but instead, Herbert Einstein, a crazy lab-coat and lederhosen sporting German, stormed the stage with impressive looking machinery to be later revealed as his sulfite bioreactor from which he managed to produce all sorts of useful and useless chemicals. As Siiri re-appeared at a later stage of the evening, more than a few in the audience claim to have noticed striking similarities to the presenter of her talk.

The second-to-last performance of the night was given by Sakari Ylivuori. His topic was the evolution of a musical piece over time through modifications by the composer. Based on surviving historical manuscripts, he demonstrated the successive stages of Sibelius’ choral work ‘Tanke, se, hur fågeln svingar’  - with the help of a 11 piece choir ensemble, thereby tracking Sibelius’ creative process. At the same time,  a new ScienceSLAM record on the number of performers simultaneous on stage was created. Music was also the medium of the last presentation “Horror autotoxicus”, by Nora Pöntynen. A change in style, however, was easily recognized when deep hip hop basslines were rolling through Korjaamo’s speakers and ‘Dr. No’ and the AIRE knock-out mouse ‘Ben’ took over the stage. Rapping their way through the mysteries of our immunity system, Ben and Dr. No told us “why your own cells can attack your body, and how they are taught not to be so naughty”.  Yo!

With such an amazing performance of all 6 presenters, the audience had a tough job to decide on whom to give their vote for the Slammer of the night, the winner of the golden microphone. In a tight count, Sakari Ylivuori and his magnificent ‘SLAM dunk choir’ made the race and took home the winning trophy. Congratulations, Sakari!!

The scientific part of the event was followed by an after-party at Korjaamo’s bar where DJ Solareclipse and his wing man were serving delicious beats while audience and performers could get to know each other over a beer or apple juice.

A big thank you to everyone, the fantastic audience, amazing performers and all of you who made the 3rd ScienceSLAM Helsinki what it was – a wonderful evening between science and entertainment!

Photo and video coverage of the event and all performances will be uploaded soon.

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