More than 300 people attended the NSU "All-Russian Laboratory"

The "All-Russian Laboratory" event was held at Novosibirsk State University. More than 300 people took part in this scientific “subbotnik” (volunteer action) to test their knowledge.

The "All-Russian Laboratory" or scientific subbotnik is the first mass action to test the scientific literacy of students, schoolchildren, their parents, and grandparents. What can move faster than light? Does it make sense to refresh the air with ozone? Why is it cold in winter? Can salt contain GMOs? These and other questions may seem simple, ordinary and even "childish", but the answers to them are not so simple and require that you use logic and remember basic earth principles.

The "All-Russian Laboratory" was held in 33 cities. In Novosibirsk, the action was conducted at six venues.  The main "Laboratory" location in our city was Novosibirsk State University that attracted the largest number of participants, more than 300 people. In total, the number of "laboratory assistants" in Novosibirsk was around 800 people, second only to Moscow in number of participants.  The “Laboratory” questions were designed so that high school seniors could answer them. However, anyone who wanted to could participate in the action.

During the action, Pavel Borodin, an expert in genetics and evolution theory and professor at the Novosibirsk State University Department of Cytology and Genetics at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Pavel Dolgushev, a student at the NSU Faculty of Natural Sciences of Novosibirsk and a specialist in physical and organic chemistry were given the status of "Laboratory Heads" and the participants were considered "laboratory assistants".  

Before the start of the "Laboratory" Pavel Borodin announced, "Most of us do not need knowledge about the structure of the world in everyday life. Science has moved far ahead, and we simply use its achievements. However, for many of us our understanding of how the planet and life around us is organized is getting worse and worse. Even this would not be a problem, if not for one thing, almost everyone has sisters or brothers, children, grandchildren, or pupils who ask, "how does everything work?"  And often, they are not able to get an answer from adults. Today we offer everyone an opportunity to practice and pass a test with "children's questions", that are really not childish at all, and to test your understanding of the world".

During a 45-minute period, participants answered questions with varying degrees of difficulty on physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy and other sciences. The questions included:

"They say that sunglasses protect against solar radiation. Does this mean the Sun is radioactive?"   

"Can a dolphin drown in the sea?"

"What is the difference between carbohydrates and hydrocarbons?"

"What kind of living organisms could be found in ancient lizards?"

"Ancient people, trilobites, birds, grass (cereals)?"

When the time allotted for the answers was over, the "Laboratory Heads" announced the correct answers, explained complicated issues and answered questions. The winner of the NSU "Laboratory" was an engineer, Alexei Artemov, who scored 51 out of 61 possible points. "Laboratory Heads" Paul Borodin and Pavel Dolgushev awarded him the title "Star Laboratory Assistant".

Many participants in the action agreed that the questions were difficult for "laboratory assistants" who were not previously prepared. Predictably, people most of all enjoyed the first questions that were the fastest and simplest part of the “Laboratory”. But the friendly scientific subbotnik atmosphere was appreciated by all participants whether they were disappointed in their score, came close to the maximum points or barely passed the easy first section.

"The most useful question for me was, "Is it true that mushrooms cannot be torn from the root because that will damage the mycelium?"  I have heard this so many times and suddenly I found out that in fact it is a myth! And I not only found out it was a myth, I got a detailed explanation", exclaimed Anna Vladimirova, a participant in the action and graduate of NSU.  Equally impressive was the question, “Is it possible to light the fire from the sun with glasses from myopia?" according to Vladimirova. "I hope the scientific subbotnik will be repeated next year. Maybe even with a training course. It would be interesting to compare how my knowledge will improve in the future!" she added.

The "All Russian Laboratory" Project was created by the "Rybakov Foundation" and supported by the leading scientific centers in the country. Informational support was provided by the Novosibirsk Mayor's Office, the Department of Advancement and Popularization of Scientific Achievements SB RAS, and the EUREKA! FEST Science Festival. The action is part of an extensive City Days of Science program. The program begins in April and this year it is dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.