The Café Scientifique Movement

To contact Alchemist Café Dublin email

Café Scientifique is a place where, for the price of a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, anyone can come to explore the latest ideas in science and technology. Meetings have taken place in cafés, bars, restaurants and even theatres, but always outside a traditional academic context.

The first Cafés Scientifiques were held in the UK in Leeds in 1998. Café Scientifique was founded by Duncan Dallas. Since then, Cafés Scientifiques have sprung up across the UK and Ireland, including Belfast, as well as internationally. 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.

Café 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 the Cafe Scientifique?

The Café Scientifique is a forum for the discussion of important and interesting scientific issues that is much more informal and accessible than a public lecture.

Who else will be there?

The audience will consist of people who are interested in science but generally never have the opportunity to discuss their views with and ask questions of someone “in the know”. No scientific knowledge will be assumed by the speakers so that everyone can participate.

What happens at a Café Scientifique?

Each event starts with a short talk from a speaker who is usually a scientist or a writer on science, to introduce the topic and kick off the broader discussion. After this there is usually a short break to allow us to refill our glasses and have a few private discussions. This is generally followed by questions, answers and general discussion. There will be opportunity for everyone to ask questions or contribute, and we welcome those which begin “This might be a stupid question, but……” These questions are invariably not stupid and often rather insightful.

Where and When?

Cafés Scientifiques are hosted in a range of venues. Most of these are bars or cafes, but some are bookshops, theatres or community spaces. Cafés Scientifiques are usually held on a regular basis (e.g. the last Tuesday of the month, the second Monday of the month etc) and take place in the evening. Check your local Café website or sign up to their mailist to hear about new events.

What subjects will be discussed?

Café Scientifiques discuss a wide range of issues relating to science and technology. Some of the topics covered include 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. All Cafés Scientifiques include suggestions from the audience in their programmes. If you want to find out more about a particular topic, go along to your local Café and suggest it to the organisers.

Do I need to buy a ticket?

Café Scientifique is 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 Cafés pass a hat round on the night and ask for contributions towards the speaker’s travel expenses. These are always voluntary. Check our website for details of the Café Scientifique nearest to you.

Does Café Scientifique make a profit?

Café Scientifique does not make a profit from events or pay a fee to the speaker.



Photos from The Alchemist Cafe



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