2011.01.15. Budapest Barabási, Albert-László

What you can do today, you will do tomorrow, too – Is the dynamics of human behaviour predictable?

We are generally happy to accept that the orbit of a planet can be precisely predicted, or that we can have more and more accurate forecasts of the weather. But we seldom study human behaviour with a similar approach. Every day we take many decisions according to our wish and whim, which makes us think that there is no more unpredictable test subject than a human being. This lecture tells us about a research project which studied the behavioural patterns of millions of anonymous mobile phone users, only to prove this concept wrong. Although our memories are dominated by diversions from our daily routine, measurements indicate that human movements can be predicted with 93% accuracy. The lecture also tells us about the root of this predictability and what its practical implications are – from the estimations of the spread of viruses to understanding mobile phone viruses.

2011.01.22. Budapest Kéri, Szabolcs

Do we know what mental health means? Psychological and social components of mental processes

What path leads to mental health? Is it possible to speak about mental health in terms of medicine or should we rather look for an answer in the context of arts, science and religion? Sociology emphasizes social processes, values and norms, psychology addresses the individual’s behaviour, life history and inner world, while biology tries to find solutions by understanding the functioning of the nervous system. In spite of an intensifying dialogue among these fields, in essence they have different epistemological bases, and differing views of man and the world. The future of our mental health depends on the successful cooperation of these scientific areas.


2011.01.28. Budapest Acsády, László

Sweet Dreams...? – Brain Function During Sleep

We spend half our lives sleeping. Every third person has a sleep disorder, which significantly affects their mental and emotional state. Yet, we do not know why we sleep. According to the latest research, sleeping is an intense and highly organised activity of the nervous system, closely connected to the waking state before sleep. Understanding the neurobiology of sleep is very helpful in understanding brain function.


2011.02.01. Miskolc Hartai, Éva

How Big is the Blanket? - The Earth's Mineral Reserves

The minerals of the Earth's crust are essential to sustaining human life and meeting the basic needs of economy and industry. Today, ensuring the available mineral reserves continue to satisfy the ever increasing demands of society in a sustainable manner is a crucial and global issue for economics and politicians alike. This presentation aims to provide an answer to this question. It will also discuss whether we have the required raw materials to support the boom in cutting-edge technologies.


2011.02.04. Budapest Falus, András

Health in our genes? – Inheritance and lifestyle in the 21st century

In 2003 we had a celebration: it seemed that a breakthrough was achieved in human medicine. The sequence of the human genome was generated, and we had high hopes that personalised medical treatment was nigh. In fact, the conditions for this have only emerged now, a decade later, thanks to the new scientific inventions and the development of technology. We have also learned the significance of the epigenetic processes that reflect environmental factors. The results of genomic and epigenetic research translate incredibly quickly, and hopefully more and more intensively, into medical practice. Most people would like to get personalised medical treatment in the future, but they do not want the insurance company or their employer to learn their genetic information, so the significance of legal regulation has also increased.


2011.02.08. Szeged Kornai, András

Words make us understand…? Man, computer, language technology

Talking computers of science fiction that understand human beings will soon be part of our everyday life. It is already difficult to obtain any information without first contacting a computer. We use automatic spell-checking when typing text documents. Several language and speech technology applications (word stemming, information extraction) serve us when we use a search engine on the net. These applications work invisibly in the background and make our work much easier. The lecture presents the theoretical bases and operational mechanisms of such applications, from information theory to modern linguistic theories.


2011.02.11. Budapest Mádlné Szőnyi, Judit

Water running under our feet? – Underground flows in water circulation

Water covers more than seventy percent of the Earth’s surface but less than three percent is potable sweet water . Sweet water is essential for life but in many cases it is also a risk factor endangering life and property. Sustainable use of this limited, vulnerable resource is one of the most important and difficult tasks of our century. As a result of water circulation, water is in continuous transformation and movement. We have known for some decades that water movements are organised in well-definable systems in non-visible underground regions, too. We have understood that such water movements taking place on a geological time-scale systematically transform both the underground and overground environment, including habitats. To facilitate the sustainable use of water resources, we need to understand the functioning of hydrological systems. In addition, information about underground water flows can be used in many areas, from agriculture, through environment protection to the mapping of thermal waters.


2011.02.15. Sopron Aszódi, Attila

What do we have the Energy for? - Issues of Sustainable Energy

Energy, including energy supply and consumption, along with their security, represent one of the most important topics of today. What kind of energy resources can be used in what way to satisfy the ever growing energy demands of the population? How does meeting energy demands affect the environment? This presentation introduces the basic terms related to energy - such as work, heat, energy and capacity - very often misused in everyday speech. We also become acquainted with the history of energy consumption in Hungary, and after looking at the current usage, we examine the role of traditional and renewable energy sources in order to arrive at the potential energy sources and new energy technologies of the future.


2011.02.18. Budapest Moravánszky, Ákos

„…open space for me”? - Space and spatiality in the built and the social world

The notion of space crops up surprisingly late in architectural thinking. But today space now triumphs over time: it has become not purely the most fundamental category of architectural theory, but a password which links different areas of knowledge, such as urban science, social science, psychology, geography and applied art. The lecture analyses some urban spaces in Budapest as spaces that are experienced, depicted and considered. It shows how the so-called spatial turn makes it possible to study the spatiality of architecture and social life, and, based on this, to develop new and progressive proposals.


2011.02.22. Pécs Kiss, László

Learning about the universe has always been one of the biggest challenges for mankind and the most interesting areas of research. Thanks to increasingly sophisticated astronomic telescopes, space telescopes and instruments, today astronomy is developing at an unprecedented pace. One of the most interesting areas is the study of planets outside the Solar System, where we have already come close to identifying planets similar to the Earth and systems similar to our Solar System. 


2011.02.25. Budapest Tariska, Péter

Sign of the times or sign of a disease? – Dilemmas of mental decline in old age

There are many mistaken beliefs about ageing; one of them is that it is naturally accompanied by mental decline. In reality, there is a wide spectrum of changes ranging from physiological, “age-dependent” forgetfulness through slight cognitive disorders to mental decline and dementia. The most common cause of dementia is the “illness of the century”: Alzheimer’s disease, the symptoms of which people often mistakenly find in themselves, while others do not think of it even if a relative has already reached a seriously retarded mental state. There are several well-defined research models of the disease that also lay the foundations of its therapy. Dementia screening tests often identify reversible causes. Life quality can be improved by complex care even in the case of a progressive process. Mental and physical training, healthy lifestyle and control of risk factors can not only slow down ageing, but may also delay the appearance of dementia.


2011.03.01. Veszprém Gelencsér, András

Are we Running out of Air? - Air Pollution and its Consequences

Every year, people exhale twice as much carbon dioxide as vehicles emit. Does this mean that we should stop breathing, especially during exercise, or does it imply that it is unnecessary to worry about the emission of burning fossil fuels? The concentration of trace gases in the atmosphere changed significantly several times before humans evolved. So what does it matter that we measure a continuous increase in the concentration of these gases? Is it even possible for humans to perceptibly influence the vast energy system of the Earth through air pollution? Nature will settle everything, just as it has done for billions of years. But what will happen to us?


2011.03.04. Budapest Chikán, Attila

Is it a World of Competition? - Economic Competitiveness and Social Welfare

Economic competitiveness is not only one of the primary topics of theoretical and applied research in economic sciences, but also a key expression in everyday economic policy debates. This presentation seeks to discover what the competitiveness of nations and regions similar to the European Union really means. What are the factors that are fixed in the long term in a country, and which can be changed by economic policy in the short run? What is the meaning of the competitivity ratings and graphs we come across in the media so often? How should we interpret them and how much we can trust them? What kind of picture do international competitiveness researches provide of Hungary? This presentation explores these questions concerning all of us with respect to social welfare, the ultimate goal of national competitiveness.


2011.03.08. Debrecen Sarkadi, Balázs

Human repair kit? - Stem cells in research and medicine 

The possibilities that stem cells offer for the renewal and restoration of tissues and organs, and new horizons for curing illnesses, all provide ample nourishment for the imagination of doctors and lay people alike. Is it also possible to use haemopoietic stem cells to produce from other tissues and to use these in the treatment of veins, bones or cardiac arrests? When can embryonic stem cells finally be used in medicine? How can we find the correct but narrow path on the boundary between charlatanism and genuine science? 


2011.03.11. Budapest Mihály, György

Encyclopaedia on a pin-point? – Nanotechnology today

Nanotechnology makes use of the fact that the laws of nature often show a totally different face if we look at them using a scale of one millionth of a millimetre; in such cases we find phenomena diverging from the accustomed behaviour. In addition to describing such effects, the lecture presents new nanotechnology solutions that have brought a leap forward in the development of electronics, optics and informatics and are now rapidly spreading to medicine, environment protection and energetics as well. Two ways of creating nanostructures are presented: from top to bottom (“small from the large”) and atomic self-organisation i.e. “from bottom to top”. Finally, we hear about new vistas of development that have been opened by carbon-based nanostructures discovered in recent years.


2011.03.18. Budapest Lévai, Péter

We are at the beginning of a new age in physics: the Large Hadron Collider Ring of CERN, the world’s largest particle accelerator was put into operation in 2009. The new physical results expected from it could basically modify what we know about the deepest structure of material and the birth of the Universe. In the future, cutting-edge technologies applied in these experiments could be used in medical diagnostics, in the processing of large data bases or even in security technology. The research carried out in the large hadron collider (with the participation of many Hungarian scientists and students) is already in the focus of public attention. The new results will strengthen trust in scientific research.