Cafe Scientifique is a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to have a conversation about the latest ideas in science and technology. Meetings have taken place in cafes, bars, restaurants and even theatres, but always outside a traditional academic context.
The first Cafes Scientifique in the UK were held in Leeds in 1998. From there, cafes gradually spread across the country. Currently, some seventy or so cafes meet regularly to hear scientists or writers on science talk about their work and discuss it with diverse audiences.
Cafe Scientifique is a forum for debating science issues, not a shop window for science. We are committed to promoting public engagement with science and to making science accountable.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Cafe Scientifique? Cafe Scientifique is a forum for the discussion of current work and interesting scientific issues. They are informal and accessible.
Who else will be there? Cafe audiences are people who are interested in science. Anyone can participate; speakers are there to be questioned and talk about their work at all levels.
What happens at a Cafe Scientifique? Cafes start with a short talk (usually about twenty minutes) by the speaker, to introduce the topic. After this there is usually a short break to allow glasses to be refilled and conversations to start. This is followed by an hour or so of questions and answers and general discussion. Anyone can ask a question, and we positively welcome those which begin "This might be a stupid question, but ..." These questions are invariably not stupid and often rather insightful.
Where and when? Cafes Scientifique are hosted in a range of venues. Most are in bars or cafes, but some use bookshops, theatres or community spaces. Cafes Scientifique are held regularly (e.g. the last Tuesday or the second Monday of the month) and take place in the evening. The map on this page will show if there is a cafe near you.
What subjects will be discussed? Cafes Scientifiques cover a wide range of issues relating to science and technology. Since 1998, cafes have covered almost every conceivable scientific topic: AIDS, the Big Bang, biodiversity, cancer, code-breaking, consciousness, Darwinism, ecology, evolution, extreme life, foetal experience, genetically modified organisms, global warming, infertility, nanotechnology, the Public Understanding of Science movement, sports science, superconductors and more.
All Cafes Scientifique welcome suggestions from the audience about their programmes. If you want to find out more about a particular topic, go along to your local cafe and suggest it to the organisers.
Do I need to buy a ticket? Cafes are generally free and you can just turn up on the night. However, in some venues a small entry charge is made to cover venue costs and many cafes pass a hat round on the night for contributions towards the speaker's travel expenses. These are always voluntary.
Does Cafe Scientifique make a profit? Cafe Scientifique does not make a profit from events or pay fees to speakers.