Wednesday 05 August 2020

The Unconventional at Science in the City

This year’s Science in the City festival promises to blow your mind with a series of activities and installations where science meets the arts to create some pretty weird results.  On Friday 27th September from 6pm onwards in Valletta, the festival unveils: “Xewk”, “Spherical” and “The Creative Jam”. All three are unique and wonderful in their own eclectic way. 

“Xewk” is an amazing structure made entirely of the most commonly used substance – concrete. Most shudder at the word but in reality, it is the second most used substance by humans, worldwide. Second only to water.  “Xewk”, is the interpretation of the result of years of research into how best to create a sustainable material which would eliminate the negative effects on the environment. Prof Ruben Paul Borg, from the Metamaterials Unit, Faculty of Science, UM and his team, developed a new type of construction material, using nano-technologies. This concrete substitute can now be used to create more durable high-performance structures, as evidenced by the weird and wonderful concrete structure “Xewk”. The structure, which will be exhibited at Castille Square, was created through a collaboration with The Institute of Computer Education Ltd (ICE).

The interconnectedness of modern technology will be manifested during Science in the City as “Spherical”, a 4-meter-high glass tower created by Maltese artist Louis Briffa.  As the name suggests, glass spheres, will hang overhead, each bubble will encapsulate innovative technologies which are slowly redefining our lifestyles, Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, Cloud Computing, Blockchain and Nanotechnology.

“The Creative Jam” – an unusual fusion of jazz and science – brought to the festival by researchers, Dr Leonie Baldacchino, Professor Sandra Dingli and Dr Margaret Mangion from The Edward de Bono Institute for the Design and Development of Thinking and Claude Bajada, a cognitive neuroscientist at UM. They have teamed up with jazz musician Diccon Cooper and his trio Stretta Swing, to investigate how learning about musical improvisational concepts can improve your idea creation.  “The Creative Jam” will take place at Palazzo Parisio, Ministry for Foreign Affairs,and will be running every hour from 7pm to 11pm. 

On a different note, researcher Simone Cutajar, from Green House Malta, and a team of boys from St Patrick’s School in Sliema got together in yet another unconventional alliance to scout Malta’s bat habitats in search of information with which to create a work of art for the festival. The information was then used to create a larger than life bat sculpture, to celebrate these wonderful and yet mysterious creatures, that are usually obscured by the darkness and their skittishness around us humans. The art installation “Bat Crazy”, will be set up in De Valette Square and is funded by the Arts Council Malta.  

For more information on the art and science pieces at this year’s festival follow on and check out the full programme on

Science in the City is part of the EU-wide celebration- European Researchers’ Night. It is funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions of the Horizon 2020 Program of the EU, and a number of corporate sponsors. It is recognized as a Festival by Europe for Festivals and Festivals for Europe (EFFE)

The consortium is led by the University of Malta, Malta Chamber of Scientists and the University’s Research Trust (RIDT), in partnership with Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, Ministry of Education and Employment, MCAST, Esplora, JUGS Ltd, Studio 7, BPC International, GSD Marketing Ltd, Aquabiotech Ltd, MEUSAC, PBS, Spazju Kreattiv, Valletta Local Council, Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector, More or Less Theatre, Transport Malta, Kreattiv and Creative Communities of the Arts Council Malta

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