“The Vienna Ball of Sciences is the party of the year, which brings together what belongs together – but doesn’t manage to come together often enough. Scientists from all disciplines are celebrating a colourful, diverse night with “an attitude”. Modern research is meeting classic ball tradition and a rather sober academic gaze is enraptured by the cityhall’s fantastic scenery. In an environment known for its brain power, shaking one’s legs stands in the foreground, elegance has priority over function – even in the changing room. The Science Ball is bringing together the community of the curious, in a place it belongs: the heart of Vienna and of society.”
„One of the goals at the ZOOM children’s museum is to give children a sensory approach to art and science. Touching, smelling, tasting, seeing and hearing makes complex topics more attainable. Children have a natural curiosity which stands at the basis of every learning process and scientific research. Already at a young age they get to know that all living spaces and organisms on Earth are connected. Biodiversity – one of the foci of this year’s Ball of Sciences – shows that humanity is also a part of this complex system. Let’s celebrate the diversity of life with this ball, sustained by pillars of openness, tolerance and respect!”
Andrea Zsutty is the new director of the ZOOM children’s museum. As a studied art historian she is working in communication of art since 1996, most recently at the Bank Austria Kunstforum. The ZOOM children’s museum located at the Vienna Museumsquartier was founded in 1993 and welcomes over 120.000 visitors every year.
“Vienna is – in the best sense of the word – different and I cannot imagine any other city which successfully combines two things which, at the first glance, seem to be very distinct: a time-honoured ball tradition and future-oriented research. But since standing still is the enemy of a successful night (especially at a ball), Grace Hopper’s motto is also true for the Ball of Sciences: “The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’” I am therefore looking forward to an extraordinary combination of a classical ball with scientific impulses.”
Martina Lindorfer is assistant professor in the Security & Privacy Group at the TU Wien and key researcher at SBA Research, the largest research center in Austria which exclusively addresses information security. In her research she is specialising on methods for automatic recognition and defense of malware on mobile devices. She was awarded the Hedy-Lamarr-Preis 2019 by the City of Vienna, which honours Austrian scientists for their innovative accomplishments within IT. In 2017 she graduated „Sub Auspiciis Praesidentis“ at the TU Wien, between 2016 und 2018 she was a Postdoc at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Grace Hopper was an US-American computer scientist and navy admiral who pioneered computer programming.
“A ball facilitates social exchange and dialogue characterised by a sense of beauty and elegance. Traditionally, balls always had a special function within international diplomacy. Together with my team I am currently researching international negotiations regarding a new treaty for the preservation of marine biodiversity. Often we find ourselves in difficult stages of discussion in which the main goal – which is the protection of oceans – has to take a back seat and in which countries don’t seem to be willing to move one millimeter in the favour of nature. These are the times when I am longing for a space of encounter and dialogue – and the Vienna Ball of Sciences is such a space, mixing tradition and innovation while embodying beauty and elegance, which is as much part of scientific thinking as it is of the ocean we need to protect.”
„Since 2015, the Vienna Ball of Sciences is setting an example as a counterpiece to the far-right Akademikerball. In a time filled with right-extremist thoughts surrounding us in our everday lives, a time in which hatred and agitation have become normality and in which ideologies of inequality can even be found in science, it is necessary to take a stance against. Right-wing extremists, members of right-wing fraternities and other nationalists must never dominate science again. Critical and sustainable science is only possible if research and studies are open and free. Let’s set an example together in the Rathaus, in the academic and public sphere. Let’s set an example for openness and tolerance.”
“Diversified, versatile, inspiring. This is how a prosperous life should look like – as well as a successful ball night. This year’s Ball of Sciences has no shortcoming in these aspects, since biodiversity is going to be brought into the ballroom. Waltz surrounded by flowering meadows, foxtrott amidst insect buzzing. Doesn’t this guarantee a wonderful ball night? Nevertheless, it is one more reason to care for this diversity.”
Gabrielle Calabro is the Director of Student Life at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna–and such a huge fan of the ball that she even designs the according posters herself which are distributed all over the SAIS building in the Via Beniamino Andreatta, right in the center of the legendary university district of Bologna. Each year since 2016, Gabrielle and her colleagues organize a trip for their students to Vienna to come to the ball. In 2019, 160 students and many more alumni from Austria attended the festivities at the town hall. This is becoming one of our most cherished traditions. And so we are looking forward again to welcome Gabrielle and the crowd from Bologna on 25 January 2020. Grazie mille, Gabrielle, e a presto a Vienna!
“Successful science is shaped by curiosity, encounter, exchange and cooperation. Especially in a globalised academic world in which research projects are spread over borders and continents, it becomes important to carry out scientific collaboration through personal relationships. And what would be a better place to nourish them than at a Viennese ball? I can’t imagine anything more beautiful than to meet colleagues and friends – who I would normally just see through tele conferences talking about everyday research practices – at the glamorous Vienna Ball of Sciences and to receive a boost of energy and creativity through dancing. Something that can furtheron inspire more research ideas. And when it is over, you are already looking forward to the next year!”
Aleny Buyx is professor for Ethics in Medicine and director of the Institute for History and Ethics of Medicine at the Technical University of Munich. She is the youngest appointed member of the German Ethics council and member of the global experts council for genome editing at the World Health Organisation WHO. Her work at the Ludwig-Boltzmann-Institute for Applied Diagnostics and her role as programme councilor for the Health Talks at the European Forum Alpbach also brings her to Austria on a regular basis.
“Music stimulates our thoughts and imagination, dancing exhilarates our souls. Within Europe or maybe even the world, Vienna is the capital city with most balls – a fantastic lead. Now it is time to uphold the Vienna Ball of Sciences, so that Vienna can keep its top ranking in this and some other regards. I wish all dancers a dreamy ball night!”
Philipp Ther is professor for Eastern European history at the University of Vienna. For his project “The Other End of History – On the Great Transformation”, in which he looks at the enormous changes at the end of state socialism , he was awarded one of two Wittgenstein Awards in 2019 – the highest recognition for scientists in Austria.
“Central European University has arrived in Vienna; the newest university in a city of great universities. While the particular circumstances of our move are unique in the history of the European Union, our arrival promises to open a new chapter in the millennium-old history of intellectual exchange and inspiration between Hungary and Austria. Moving to the vibrantly diverse district of Favoriten – from Gellért Hill to Gellert Square, just three blocks from our campus – enables us to become an actor in one of the most exciting urban development programs currently being undertaken in Europe. As such, we both play a role in the gradual transformation of our immediate neighborhood and help underpin Vienna’s aspiration as a city of world-class science and research.
The format of the ‘Spectacular Ball’ as an opportunity for trades, professions and esteemed institutions to acquire, enhance and burnish societal reputation was developed under the Danube Monarchy. The Science Ball of today can be considered a re-interpretation of tradition by inducing innovation to convention, and opening doors rather than closing.
We are very happy to take part in this event – and we are looking forward to connecting with, learning from and contributing to our Viennese peers.
P.S. While the hill in Budapest is named after Gellért, the patron saint of Budapest rolled down the hills of Buda, in 1046, to his death, Gellert square in Favoriten derives its name from Christian Fürchtegott Gellert, German poet from the age of enlightenment. I like to think of CEU’s move to its new home less as an act of martyrdom and more as a harbinger of a future of intellectual, philosophical and scientific collaboration.”
Michael Ignatieff is President and Rector of the Central European University. Born in Canada, educated at the University of Toronto and Harvard, he is a university professor, writer and former politician.
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