Whale song and Schmusechor

The highlights of the 9th Science Ball

Climate as a focus: Walfisch Poldi, CO2 cubes and the cuddle choir • Premiere of the ball lecture at the ÖAW: Marc Abrahams on the meaning of science communication • And again, the ball is completely sold out

The science ball is entering the home stretch: two weeks to the major event, the final preparations are being made to delight the audience with scientific and artistic performances on January 27th. Ball organizer Oliver Lehmann: “Since the ground floor of the town hall is available to us again this year, we can welcome 4,000 guests this time. The ball is completely sold out. There will be no box office on the evening of the ball itself.” One of the highlights of the program is a performance by Walfisch Poldi. The heraldic animal of the recently opened Vienna Museum will glide through the town hall as a virtual projection. On the one hand, the Praterwal (Photo: Wien Museum/Maria Benke) represents typical Viennese folk culture as it has been practiced in the amusement park for centuries. On the other hand, Poldi stands for an endangered species – and in a broader sense, species protection and the changes to our habitats caused by climate change.

Another object that shows the audience the challenge of climate change and the efforts to manage it is the cube with a side length of 8 meters in the courtyard, which illustrates one ton of CO2. The idea for the cube in the size of a two-story residential building came about in collaboration between the organizing committee and the Wiener Stadtwerke. The end of the fossil age, says its general director Peter Weinelt, “is a Herculean task that requires more than pure will. We need a spirit of innovation. We need people who want to work on creative solutions and rethink mobility, electricity and heat supply in Vienna. We need science.”

One of the highlights of the music program is the premiere of the Schmusechor (photo: Nina Keinrath) at a Viennese ball. The queer-feminist singing club with its 50 members enchants with interpretations from Aretha Franklin to David Bowie. In the town hall, the Schmusechor (cuddly choir) – whose performances are usually sold out in a very short time – will perform under the direction of Verena Giesinger on the impressive staircases and as a midnight performance in the ballroom.

Another premiere takes place the day before the ball: Marc Abrahams (Photo: Herbert Corn) gives the very first Vienna Lecture on Science Communication under the title “Why communicate science?” The setting is the ÖAW campus in the center of Vienna. Abrahams, creator and Spiritus Rector of the legendary Ignoble Prizes, was already a guest at the premiere of the Science Ball in 2015. On January 26, 2024, at the invitation of the President of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Heinz Faßmann, and ball organizer Oliver Lehmann (photo: R. Ferrigato), Abrahams will analyze the purpose of science communication – introduced by Matthias Karmasin, director of the Institute for Comparative Media and Communication Research (CMC) at ÖAW and the University of Klagenfurt.

The starting point for the lecture is scientific skepticism, as recently documented again in the ÖAW’s science barometer. The reaction of universities and researchers to do more education and communication is understandable. But Abrahams – a globally recognized pioneer of contemporary science communication – goes beyond this and asks: Why do we need science communication? How is science communication different from communication about other topics – and should it be different?

Topics that the Science Ball has been dealing with since 2015; next year for the 10th time.

Questions & Contact:
Oliver Lehmann
Head of the organizing committee

Media & Accreditation:
Petra Eckhart
Ball organization

All photos in printable resolution for download