Photo:Masakazu Matsumoto on Flickr

Mystery Solving – Tokyo Science Events

Speaking at a Press Conference after it was announced that he was one of two scientists to win the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physics, the Japanese Scientist Takaaki Kajita said,

"There are still many unknown things in the cosmos. These large unknown issues cannot be solved by short-term research and many people have to get interested in those matters to solve them by taking a lot of time," he added,"I want young people to join such mystery solving."

So how can we apply his advice to our stay in Japan?

The EURAXESS Science Slam

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The EURAXESS Science Slam is a science communication competition taking place at Tokyo Metropolitan University on October 23rd. Specially chosen research finalists have 10 minutes to present their research project in English, with the aid of videos, multimedia, and scientific equipment. This exciting project then invites audience members to vote on which participant is the most engaging, entertaining and easy to understand. The winning competitor wins a trip to Europe, while attendees mingle with fellow science enthusiasts and researchers from 4pm-8pm on Friday, October 23rd. To register your interest, visit the website.

TMU Minami-Osawa Campus
45 minutes from Shinjuku

National Museum of Nature and Science

In addition to permanent and special exhibitions, one of the real draws to this science museum is the Theatre 360. What is it? It's a three dimensional spherical movie experience originally known as “Earth Room” at the Japan Pavilion Nagakute Expo in 2005. Learn about tectonic plates and the circulation of the Earth’s mantle in October viewings of Mantle Dynamics and Evolution of the Earth: Earth's Amazing Interior. Or visualise how the Sun was formed by the accumulation of gas and dust over 1 million years through the 3D November showing of The Universe: A Journey of 13.7 billion years – Everything Comes from the Stars. For more information, visit the webpage.

National Museum of Nature and Science is a 5 min. walk from JR Ueno Station, Park Exit
Visiting hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm (last entry at 4.30pm)
Closed Monday
Adult: 620 yen, Children: Free
Astronomical Observation entry: 310 yen, Children: Free

Hamagin Space Science Center

Did you know that it takes a speed of 11.2 km/s to escape the earth's gravity field? That's 40,000km/h, or 200 times the speed of a Shinkansen.

Visit the Science Museum in Yokodai, for more space themed fun facts. Explore the Space Discovery Room, Space Training Room or Space Captain Room to find interactive games, a machine which stimulates jumping in space and a meteorite that was found in Namibia in 1989. Across 5 floors, this quiet museum has has a lot to offer. For more information, visit the website.

Hamagin Space Science Center is 5 minute walk from Yokodai Station
Visiting hours: 9:30am - 17:00pm (last entry at 4pm)
Closed: 1st & 3rd Mondays each month (open if holiday)
Adult: 400 yen, Children: 200 yen
Space Theater Adult: 600 yen, Children: 300 yen

In terms of Nobel prizes, Japan received enormous success, both in the the field of Physics and in Physiology or Medicine. The Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to Takaaki Kajita in Japan and Arthur B. McDonald, Canada, for experiments which prove that neutrinos have mass. There is a small section at The Hamagin Space Science Center which explains a little more about the formation of neutrinos by radioactive interactions.

Since neutrinos are so abundant in the atmosphere, understanding them better brings us closer to understanding the world we live in. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has said in a recent press release that, “The discovery has changed our understanding of the innermost workings of matter and can prove crucial to our view of the universe.”

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three scientists this year. To Satoshi Ōmurao, a Japanese scientist and and William C. Campbell, an Irish scientist based in the US "for their discoveries concerning a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites."  The award also goes to Youyou Tu, from China for her therapeutic research into Malaria.

The research that Ōmurao and Campbel did is so important because parasites can cause a tropical disease known as Lymphatic filariasis. This disease is transmitted by mosquitos, and according the WHO, over 120 million people are infected with Lymphatic filariasis. Thanks to Ōmurao and Campbel, it is hoped that their research will contribute to a reduction in suffering and cases of Lymphatic filariasis which can cause severe swelling of body parts, pain, social exclusion and disability.

So to celebrate the success of these scientists, why not spend a weekend checking out the science events and exhibitions near you?

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