Science & Cocktails #2: Consciousness with Steven Laureys



The talks will be held in English

Science & Cocktails is an initiative that brings science and entertainment closer together by creating a series of public lectures intertwined with music/art performances and smoky dry-ice chilled cocktails in your hand.

Scientific knowledge is in general not considered accessible by many and, like any other form of information, it travels from researcher to journalist and is finally transmitted through the usual media channels (but perhaps slightly distorted). Science & Cocktails aims to create a relaxed platform where researchers and audience are on equal footing and conversations can be easily followed while sipping a Famous Penicillin cocktail side by side with your favorite scientist.

It is our belief that a night culture that evolves around knowledge, discussion and entertainment is altogether lacking in urban spaces. Taking a scientific approach that extends not only through information flow but also as an inspiration in music/art and as a tool in the craft of cocktails we seek to create a unique atmosphere.

Science & Cocktails is a non-profit initiative which aims to make scientific knowledge accessible to everybody as a service to the community. Thanks to support from the Science & Cocktails foundation in Denmark, ULB and FNRS, these events are free and open to everyone.


Science & Cocktails began in Copenhagen, Denmark, as a joint cooperation between Teori og Praksis, the Niels Bohr Institute (physics department of Copenhagen’s University) and the physicist Jácome Armas. Its first version ran over the year 2010 and was held at the cocktail bar Huset ved Kongens Have. Since 2011 Science & Cocktails has been running at Byens Lys, the cinema of the freetown of Christiania, and is currently in its eighth version counting with the participation of scientists, artists, mixologists and cocktail masters.

Since 2014, Science & Cocktails is a registered non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the communication of scientific research to the general public.

The Johannesburg version of Science & Cocktails started in 2015 and is now in its second year, promoting South-African based research.

The Brussels version of Science & Cocktails kicks off in 2017 at Atelier 210 as it aims to provide a platform for Belgium-based scientists to engage with the public and increase awareness of the science performed in Belgium, both locally as well as globally, by making the talks available online at www.scienceandcocktails.org/bxl/.


Consciousness with Steven Laureys:

What is consciousness? Where, if anywhere, is consciousness in the brain? What happens when you sleep? And if you are in coma? What is death and a near-death experience?

For the second episode of Science & Cocktails in Brussels, we have a fantastic lecture on the understanding of consciousness by Steven Laureys – the recent awardee of the Francqui Prize – followed by a solo music performance of rising star cello player Benjamin Glorieux.

Are human beings the only beings that are conscious or are animals also aware of what is happening to them, their existence and their being? What is the difference between sleep, dreams, hypnosis, anesthesia, coma, cerebral death and the a near death experience?

And what makes the impulses from billions of neurons in our brain consciousness? This question has occupied philosophers since ancient times. New brain scanners are now able to reveal parts of this mystery. The study of coma, anesthesia, sleep, dementia, and hypnosis teach us what parts of the brain are important for human consciousness. This knowledge has direct medical and ethical implications, particularly to what concerns the care of patients in brain death, coma, vegetative state, minimally conscious state and ‘locked-in’ syndrome or pseudo coma.

Steven Laureys will describe simply what we know today about the state of consciousness and the functioning of the brain.

Afterwards, enjoy cocktails that interfere with your conscious state, while Benjamin Glorieux with his cello and loop station will be taking the stage.