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Prepare for a new serving of science on June 9, 2018 in Sofia Event Center – the 8th edition of the Ratio Forum is coming up!


The speakers of Ratio are science professionals who have a lot of interesting things to share. Here’s the first one of our lineup:

Steven Le Comber

steven le comber

Steven Le Comber is a senior lecturer in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London.

Steve’s work on the mathematics of spatial patterns ranges from the fractal geometry of African mole-rat burrows to epidemiology. He has pioneered the introduction of geographic profiling – a statistical technique originally developed in criminology to prioritize the investigation of serial murders.

Steve is passionate about science communication and has given major talks at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK and at the Internet Festival in Pisa, Italy. He has appeared on the BBC and his research has been covered around the world.

Talk: Maths, murder, and malaria

In a talk spanning mathematics, Jack the Ripper and great white sharks, Steve will explain how he used geographic profiling to investigate the identity of the artist Banksy and reanalysed a Gestapo case from the 1940s that formed the basis of a famous novel – and how GP can be used to control outbreaks of diseases such as malaria.

Geographic profiling (GP) is a statistical technique originally developed in criminology to prioritize large lists of suspects – often in the tens or hundreds of thousands – in cases of serial murder. GP uses the spatial locations of crime sites to make inferences about the location of the offender’s ‘anchor point’ (usually a home, but sometimes a workplace).

The success of GP in criminology has led recently to its application to biology, notably animal foraging (where it can be used to find animal nests or roosts using the locations of foraging sites as input), epidemiology (identifying disease sources from the addresses of infected individuals) and invasive species biology (using current locations to identify source populations).

Dr. Maggie Lieu

Dr Maggie Lieu is an ESA research fellow working at the European Space Astronomy Centre in Madrid. As an astrophysicist, her main science interest is in Galaxy Clusters. These are the cosmic giants of our Universe, with 70% of their mass coming from dark matter. This makes them ideal probes to study the dark Universe and cosmology.

Dr Lieu works on the Euclid team at ESA and she’s one of the few people working full time on science, preparing for its launch in 2021.

Talk: The Dark Universe In The Eyes of Euclid

For the past century, scientists have been baffled by missing components of the Universe. Baryons – the things that we can see, touch or even interact with, only make up about 5% of entire Universe. The remaining Universe is “dark”. Dark Energy is causing the accelerated expansion of our Universe and the presence of Dark Matter allows stars within galaxies, and galaxies within galaxy clusters to move much faster than we expect.

The nature of the dark Universe is still unknown, but ESA’s Euclid Mission hopes to change that. Euclid will measure the shapes and distances of billions of galaxies covering the entire extragalactic sky to uncover the signatures of these dark phenomena. The challenge is highly ambitious, but in this talk I’ll discuss how we can build a visible space telescope to see the invisible things of our Universe.

Dr. Holm Gero Hümmler

holm gero hummler

Dr. Holm Gero Hümmler studied physics at the Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany. During his diploma thesis in nuclear physics, he spent several months at CERN in Geneva. He did his Ph.D. at the Munich Technical University, working at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich.

Holm Hümmler has been active in the German skeptics’ movement and the GWUP organization since the late 1990s. After some years in the board of editors of the Skeptiker magazine, he has shifted his attention to investigating some of the more unusual technical claims skeptics encounter in Germany, mostly from the areas of pseudo-physics, business esoterics, modern conspiracy theories and supernatural claims from the world of martial arts.

Holm Hümmler’s first skeptical book, Relativer Quantenquark, appeared in April 2017. It deals with pseudo-physical claims in esoterics and alternative medicine, explaining the basics of relativity and quantum mechanics along the way. In parallel, he started writing the blog quantenquark.com to address more current developments that did not find room in the book.

Talk: Relative Quantum Nonsense: How Pseudo-Physics Profits from Misguided Science Communication

Quantum healing is considered a form of spiritual healing, but quantum healers claim to actually practice physics. Deepak Chopra explains quantum healing as a nonlocal physical effect on the “quantum mechanical body”. Alternative healers turned management consultants offer business advice based on information from a quantum physical zero-point field.

Using Einstein, Heisenberg or Bohr to justify one’s claims deters potential critics, and well-founded criticism from actual physicists is rare. Often, quacks, conspiracy theorists, and woo-peddlers can even quote famous scientists or press releases from renowned institutes, which sound stunningly similar to their own claims. As a result, many non-scientists are under the impression that modern physics can be used as a justification for a seemingly limitless array of supernatural claims.

Unfortunately, this impression is promoted and in part even caused by well-meaning science communication and public relations. What can – and what must – scientists and science communicators do to limit the mystification of modern physics and the proliferation of quantum esoterics?

Discussion panel – CRISPR/Cas9: Editing Humanity

crispr speakersGene editing technologies are evolving faster than ever and their potential is ever increasing. A potential for different applications, ranging from innovative treatments for serious diseases to “designer babies”. Where is science headed and is it possible that we may soon live in a real-life “Gataka”? What are the applications of CRISPR/Cas9 and what are scientists hoping to achieve with this method? Finally, where do we draw the line according to the law, ethics, and morality?

The participants in the discussion panel will try to answer these and many other serious questions.

Jonathan Pettitt

Jonathan Pettitt is a Reader in Genetics at the University of Aberdeen, where he studies the genetics of nematodes, a globally important group of worms, many of which are medically and agriculturally significant parasites. He also lectures broadly in the field of genetics, with a special focus on human population genetics. Jonathan is strongly committed to public engagement with genetics, having participated in a variety of national events. He performs stand-up comedy based on his research, and, as part of the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas, presents a show about human genetics at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He was the genetics consultant for Helen Keen’s popular science book, The Science of Game of Thrones.

Boris Kirov

Boris is a bioengineer. He has a Ph.D. in synthetic biology. Now he’s a professor at the Technical University in Sofia and works at Sofia Tech Park. He founded the Bulgarian team for the international synthetic biology student competition iGEM. His team won the bronze (2016) и and silver (2017) prizes.

Hristo Kutiev

Hristo is a specialist in International law, Public administration, and Jurisdiction. He has specialized English Law and EU Law in British Law Centre – Cambridge. He’s currently working on his Ph.D. in criminal proceedings in the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. He’s part of the board of the Public Policy Institute.

Moderator: Petko Zhelyazov, MA in European Studies and International Policy, M.C. of Ratio.


10:00-10:45 – Registration
10:45-11:00 – Opening notes
11:00-11:45 – Steven Le Comber: Maths, Murder, and Malaria
11:45-12:00 – coffee break with Nescafe Dolce Gusto
12:00-12:45 – Dr. Maggie Lieu: The Dark Universe In The Eyes of Euclid
12:45-13:30 – lunch break with Co-Kitchen and Ailyak beer
13:30-14:30 – Discussion panel: CRISPR/Cas9: Editing humanity
14:30-14:45 – coffee break with Nescafe Dolce Gusto
14:45-15:30 – Dr. Holm Gero Hümmler: Relative Quantum Nonsense
15:30-15:45 – coffee break with Nescafe Dolce Gusto
15:45-16:45 – Q&A panel with all speakers
16:45-17:00 – Closing notes
17:00-19:00 – afterparty with ShakerMaker and Ailyak beer


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