The Long Night of Science 2012

Posted on Thu 03 May 2012

In between spending my time in lectures which are interesting but not in my current curriculum and attending and presenting at the Grazer Linuxtage2 I was checking out another event in this student metropolis: The Long Night of Science.

Admittedly, if it wasn’t for another student from university asking me if I want to go I wouldn’t have left the house that evening. Now, that being said, I enjoyed most of the evening. I initially agreed to go because Anja had struck lucky and the first thing she told me about the Long Night stirred my interest.

At the Medical University

The Medical University of Graz (to be more precise: the Ludwig Boltzmann institute for clinical-forensic research) offered something slightly less common amongst its many lectures and presentations that evening: an interactive criminal investigation - you were to solve a murder case.

Using hints (read: answers that were tied to letters) you were supposed to solve the case and guess the gleamingly obvious codeword. For those of you that are reminded of Tom Turbo (link in German), you are quite right.The first step was talking to the three suspects (for a lack of time that consisted of checking three short written statements). Due to the shortness of those statements I personally couldn’t get to a conclusion, but my colleague decided on the right thing. After some discussions I still can’t understand her way of thought on that, but I’ll leave it on that. As the room was separated there were two more activities to do at the “crime scene”, as well as a bonus task. We were to check the smear tests from each suspect’s steering wheel for blood, compare tracks left by tires and make a semi-detailed scribble of the environment because there are no cameras. After leaving the crime scene we headed to the “lab section” to check the seeds gathered from each suspect’s shoes 1, check a computer model in order to determine which murder weapon was used and compare some DNA tests to see if our most likely suspect left traces on the murder weapon.

After all it was a nice little excursion into the processes used by police and an amusing possibility to try some of the things one only knows from TV on your own.

At the FH Joanneum (University of Applied Sciences)

In hindsight - or rather looking at the plan - I realize that there indeed was a station done by the Journalism & PR team’s Web Literacy Lab. That’s what I intended to check out that evening. Where I actually ended up was the station for Information Management demonstrating how easy it is to do a man in the middle attack for unencrypted VoIP telephony. Though we had an inspiring conversation there I ended up thinking that there wasn’t a station done by the Web Literacy Lab and was slightly disappointed. A short visit to the “Computers of the Future” section didn’t really improve my mood as the things there were neither particularly new nor that amazing. I assume that comes with optimizing demos for all kinds of audiences (children included).

The takeaway

I think next year I’ll try to start earlier into the evening that 19:00 in order to check out more of the various presentations. Nevertheless I’m delighted that Austria offers such an interesting event once a year. Check out the website to see just how many institutes contributed on a nation wide scale.

  1. In order to see how working with microscopes is helpful for police work. 

  2. The article about the Grazer Linuxtage was in draft stage at the time of this writing.