Where fantasy meets the future
Presenting ITER at public conferences and festivals is nothing new. But last weekend, it can be said that ITER entered new territory at the Yggdrasil Festival in Lyon.
Ever since 2015, this festival named after a central element of Nordic mythology, the sacred tree Yggdrasil, has managed to attract more than 20,000 fans who regularly turn the Eurexpo exhibition halls into a huge party zone for science fiction and heroic fantasy enthusiasts as well as summoners of the medieval age. So for the first time the ITER exhibition team, who likes to think it knows most of the tricks in the book, was faced with Darth Vaders, Robin Hoods, scary monsters and also ladies dressed in elegant vintage dresses à la Louis XIV.
The Yggdrasil Festival was held this year on the theme of ''Tomorrow—but better.'' It blended science with science fiction, heroic fantasy and cosplay because the organizers are convinced that ''people who are passionate about history and the life and habits of ancient cultures are also curious about the future.''
This event would perhaps not have been the ITER Organization's first choice had it not been for the direct invitation from the festival organizers who, this year, wanted to build the bridge between dreaming of the past and imagining the future. Driven by the motto "Demain—mais en mieux" (Tomorrow—but better) they docked an—imaginative—spaceship in the main hall in which some of the leading European science labs (the European Space Agency, the French National Centre for Scientific Research CNRS, Airbus, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission CEA and others) presented their fields of research. "We know that the people who are passionate about history and the life and habits of ancient cultures are also curious about the future," said Franck Barataud, festival organizer.
And they were curious! Curious to learn all about fusion, its potential and the state of ITER construction at the ITER stand, and also to hear from ITER Director-General Bernard Bigot during the conference "Aller toucher les étoiles" ("Let's go touch the stars") about his personal passion for science. Being a star chaser himself, or rather a chaser of the energy of stars, Bernard Bigot had been invited on stage with equally passionate researchers Nathalie Besson, from the CEA team that went in search for the famous Higgs Boson, and Pierre-Olivier Lagage, responsible for the French contribution to the James Webb Space Telescope. As interviewer Mathieu Vidard put it, all three are "conquering unknown territory."
See the captivating ambiance of Yggdrasil in this short video.
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