Albert Einstein once remarked that “imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination encircles the world.” But what does “imagination” actually mean? Different perspectives on this subject will be the main theme of this year’s Compernicus Festival. The events will include three keynote lectures in English by eminent experts in various fields: cognitivist Joel Pearson, biochemist Venki Ramakrishnan and physicist Sabine Hossenfelder.
Schedule of keynote lectures in English:
- 19 May, 7.00 p.m. GMT+2 Joel Pearson: “The human imagination: Visual imagery and aphantasia”
During the Copernicus Festival Prof. Pearson will deliver a lecture on imagination, one of key human cognitive functions, and its neuronal basis. He will address the question of what imagination gives us. Is it is really necessary for solving problems, planning and engaging in creative processes or is imagination only a side effect of the functioning of the brain? To solve this riddle, the speaker will refer to his research on people affected with aphantasia, who are incapable of creating visual images.
- 20 May, 7.00 p.m. GMT+2 Sabine Hossenfelder: “Why Physics Lacks Imagination”
Theoretical physics with such concepts ad curved spacetime, black holes and virtual particles pushes the boundaries of human imagination. But despite intense efforts by researchers, the recent decades did not bring about the desired breakthrough in explaining elementary particles or in attempts to quantize gravity. Have we reached the limits of our knowledge, or do contemporary physicists, in a sense,… lack imagination? The physicist Sabine Hossenfelder will address the question: what’s wrong with today’s physics?
- 22 May, 7.00 p.m. GMT+2 Venki Ramakrishnan: “On hardships and satisfaction in scientific work. The race to unravel the secrets of ribosome”
Inside the body, each human being has billions of small mechanical factories translating information encoded in the genetic material into proteins. It took almost half a century from the discovery of the DNA structure until scientists finally managed to understand the structure and functioning of these factories, known as ribosomes in molecular biology. The history of the deciphering of ribosomes’ structure is a story of a fascinating race full of rapid twists, which finally unravelled one of the greatest mysteries of biology and earned Venki Ramakrishnan a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.