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Science and music Starmus, a rare constellation of intelligence and talent

The six-day festival in Zurich, Starmus, was the stuff of dreams for space enthusiasts – but why was the attendance so low?

The star-studded line-up at Starmus last week in Zurich featured ten Nobel Prize winners, three generations of European and American astronauts, including the heroes of Apollo, Russian cosmonauts, rock music legends, a symphony orchestra and an Oscar-winning composer.

Throughout the week, this illustrious gathering relived the race to the Moon, 50 years after the historic breakthrough. They explored the possibilities for future space missions, back to the Moon, to Mars and beyond. The speakers gave an impressive overview of what is going on in scientific research, from the quest to discover the basic constituents of matter to the intricacies of the brain. The scientific content was complemented by world-class musical performances.  

However, that rare constellation of intelligence and talent took place in front of an estimated audience of 1,500 people. It is likely that the high price of the tickets contributed to the disappointing turnout but it was not the only factor (it cost €900 (CHF1,000) for all six days but it was also possible to buy single-day tickets).

The organisers cited a lack of support from Swiss companies (apart from Omega, the watch of astronauts) and particularly from the academic and political worlds.

(Translated from French by Clare O’Dea),

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