Science Cafe Makes Its Debut in Pakistan

by Imran Parvez Khan & Scott Asakawa

On September 29, 2012, members of the COMSATS Science Society of Pakistan officially made their mark on the development of the public perception and understanding of science by pioneering a Science Café in Islamabad, one of the first to take place in the country.  The event lasted two hours, was held at the Kuch Khaas Centre for Arts, Culture & Dialogue, and hosted 30 participants, most of them students and teachers who flocked from different universities in the capital city. “There are science cafés overseas because the public [has a demonstrated interest]. We’re trying to get that in Pakistan,” said the main speaker of the event, a theoretical particle physicist.

Of the attendees, the organizers said, “We’re happy with the audience. We’re not charging anything except [their time] and we’re happy that they gave us that. They were responsive and engaged in dialogue, [in keeping with] the spirit of such a café.”

This inaugural event chose, as its first topic, the structure of space and time.  Ambitious though such a topic might be for a new café, NOVA resources were of great benefit to the organizers.  Clips from NOVA’s Fabric of the Cosmos with Brian Greene were used to introduce the notion of space and how is it different from its classical counterpart.  The audience was introduced to Einstein’s famous theory of relativity. Flash animations were also displayed to give an idea of the scale of our universe. 

The COMSATS Science Society members are quick to acknowledge their partners, and already have their eyes focused on the future of their café series.  “We’re thankful to Kuch Khaas for giving us space to host this event. In the future, we intend to invite distinguished scholars from different fields and take this event a step ahead.”  Here’s hoping that the Science Café movement continues to gain momentum in Pakistan, and that such dedicated community members as those in Islamabad are able to continue their ground-breaking work.

Imran Parvez Khan works in theoretical physics at The COMSATS Institute of Information Technology in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Scott Asakawa works as Outreach Coordinator for NOVA Education in Boston, Massachusetts.