Iñaki Echevarría, winner of the contest of scientific monologues FameLab Spain 2019


Are obstacles always detrimental? Iñaki Echevarría (Pamplona), master in modeling and mathematical research disagrees. And the physicist Dirk Helbing too. The latter showed that FIS phenomenon (in English "faster is slower" or "faster is slower"), by which an evacuation can be slower if people try to escape quickly, because there are jams. But it can be solved by placing an obstacle near an exit point, as Helbing pointed out.

To do this, it uses a device similar to an hourglass and in which it can be seen that, surprisingly, the balls inside it pass better to the other side when they encounter this obstacle. However, this recent theory still needs to be well understood to be able to be applied with groups of Basque people and students, as Echevarría explains in "Déjame salir", the winning monogol of the seventh edition of FameLab España, the organized scientific monologue contest by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (Fecyt) and the British Council with the collaboration of Obra Social "la Caixa". The pamplonica, who has received the award from Doña Letizia, will be in charge of representing Spain in the international final of FameLab to be held in June during the science festival of Cheltenham (United Kingdom), the place where this contest arose .

Next to Echevarría, the jury – formed by the doctor in Neurosciences Carmen Agustín Pavón; the physicist Marcos Pérez Maldonado; and the theoretical physicist and scientific journalist Pampa García Molina- has named Mariola Penadés (Valencia) as the first finalist, who has asked the public about whether he himself is capable of listening to his own steps, knowing what flavor is his own saliva or noticing everything while rubbing the pants with the skin. The answer to all these questions is no. Your brain ignores all this to be more effective, just like the doctor in Veterinary Medicine and master in Psychobiology and Cognitive Neuroscience in his monologue "The silence of my neurons." "It's not the same with the popcorn at your side in the cinema: he does not listen to chew, so do not blame him," he continues after showing Newton's pendulum with lights how neurons communicate with each other to increase the effectiveness of our brain without us being conscious.

And, as a second finalist, the jury has named Kevin Fernández-Cosials (Madrid). Why are the nuts of a nuclear power plant the size of a closed fist and are neither larger nor smaller? Because an engineer evaluated the risk, which is the result between the probability of the accident occurring, for example, a nuclear catastrophe; multiplied by its consequences, which may become those of Chernobyl. Taking these facts, we can think "then, the better the bigger". Fernández-Cosials speaks in her monologue "Risky Bussiness", which is where another factor enters: the influence of human feelings. When we hear about Chernobyl, we get scared, which means we look for more security, even if it is guaranteed. That "just in case". In addition, it is inevitable. This is bad? The industrial engineer and Master in Nuclear Science and Technology is sharp in his talk: "No, but we must be aware that human emotions can influence even the diameter of a nut."

The other finalists
Five other researchers have reached the final held at the Teatro Gran Maestre in Madrid. They are the following:

In "A vital truce", Francisco Algaba (Albacete), biochemist and Master in Biomedicine, proposes a quite picturesque war scenario: the one that occurs in a pregnancy. Although the human body is made to reject foreign bodies, as it happens in transplants, during pregnancy, two independent beings are united by the placenta. At this moment, and during the following nine months, the immune systems of both sign a temporary truce. However, peace is always fragile. If the mother acquires unhealthy habits, such as poor diet or sedentary lifestyle, the cells "do not break the truce, but they begin to conspire," says Algaba, who is preparing a doctoral thesis on gestational diabetes, explaining that this type of Behaviors can lead to consequences for children, even in the long term. "Our actions always have consequences", sentence.

Marina Alonso (La Rioja) works with bees and wasps, and the recurring question she faces the most is "Have you ever been bitten?". And the answer is also the same: "no". Because although people think that these insects, of the numerous Hymenoptera family, are machines that cause bites, they only attack when they feel in danger. Alonso explains that his story goes far beyond that of dinosaurs, mammals and even ourselves, as he explains in his monologue "Picar or no Picar".

"The bulk of mortals think that bacteria are boring beings that cause diseases and little else. But in reality they can do super cool things ", explains Andrea Muras (Pontevedra), Master in Biotechnology. Among the "cool" things is the communication between them to know that there are many close to overcome in the war of infection and to show off. However, there are others that are able to cancel this "conversation", which may be the key to prevent and treat future infections caused by the so-called "superbacteria" resistant to antibiotics, which are estimated to have a higher incidence in mortality that the dreaded cancer. Muras tells it in the finalist monologue "Silencing the enemy".

Aging is a universal concern, not only for the aesthetic consequences, but in health. And it's inevitable, because we live in a hostile environment, "more than a Tarantino movie": radiation, chemical agents, pollution. David Sanfeliu (Valencia), graduated in Biotechnology and Master in Genetics and Genomics, has grace in his monologue "The contest of your life" as over the years we collect ballots so that our cells end up awarded in the raffle of the diseases. And, for now, no one can escape this "roulette of fragility", although scientists with Sanfeliu investigate to continue participating in the game of life a little more (and better).

The trash is gold. At least, it is worth more than what ordinary mortals think, according to Mari Luz Cádiz (Cádiz). This biologist, Master in Biotechnology and PhD in Chemistry, takes something as simple as the skin of an orange and turns it into fodder for "instagramers" cows or beauty products in her monologue "La basura del futuro". The Cádiz-born woman reflects on how the circular economy gives value to things that we normally throw without much ado.

The FameLab quarry
Echeverría joins the list of names of Spanish researchers who have won this award, which includes the mathematician and presenter of the television program "Órbita Laika" Eduardo Sáenz de Cabezón; the biologists Ricardo Moure, Álvaro Morales and Alba Aguión won the second, third and fourth edition, respectively; and the mathematicians Pedro Daniel Pajares and Juan Margalef.

FameLab has become a shuttle of scientific dissemination told in a different way, as is the case of the Big Van project, made up of finalists from previous editions, with an intense informative activity and performances of scientific content in congresses, theaters and events in Spain and Latin America. (tagsToTranslate) famelab (t) 2019 (t) final (t) Spain


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