The University of Geneva brings together several public laboratories called Scienscope. Their ambition is to awaken and cultivate a fascination for science among the population and more particularly among young people to share scientific knowledge and to encourage vocations. Here is an overview of what they do.
Birth of a numerical method
In 1787, Ernst Chladni, a German musician and physicist, discovered that, when he rubbed the bow of his violin on a metal plate covered with sand, each different pitch that he managed to obtain revealed a new pattern. These are the Chladni figures. By their attempts to reproduce numerically these figures, mathematicians have built a powerful numerical method among the most used today to model complex situations.
Machine à étincelles
There are many electrostatic generators that allow the accumulation of electric charges. One of them is called a “Wimshurst machine”: It is a manual crank generator, which can generate voltages of several tens of thousands of volts! The sparks that are created by this machine are impressive and one can make for some nice experiments. You can see some of them in this short video clip!
Oscillating reactions and molecular chaos
The oscillating reactions fascinate as much as they challenge. In these transformations in cascade, substances produced are recycled into starting substances, with dramatic changes in colour and intensity until the “fuel” of the reaction is exhausted. Modelling these chemical oscillations by nonlinear differential equations reveals regular solutions and chaotic solutions, but in the end, it is the beauty of molecular chaos that wins out!