A week of goo galore in the Scottish capital!

From 3-7 June 2019, Edinburgh welcomes hundreds of scientists from around the world for the International Soft Matter Conference (ISMC).

Held under the auspices of the SoftComp Network of Excellence, whose mission is to provide a sustainable environment for the integration of leading European research groups in the field of soft matter composites, this Edinburgh meeting is the fifth in a triennial series that is now well established as a main international conference in this interdisciplinary field.

Soft matter scientists study ‘goo’ of all kinds. Familiar examples range from shampoo and toothpaste through molten chocolate and bread dough to paints and potter’s clay. All are liquids with ‘bits’ dispersed in them, which gives them interesting, and highly applicable, flow properties – non-drip paint is a good example (is it a solid or a liquid?!). Soft matter science underpins the industrial formulation of such products, which contribute around £180 billion annually to the UK economy alone. Moreover, living things are essentially built from forms of soft matter come alive, so that a significant number of soft matter scientists work on biological and medical topics. In particular, the way biological molecules assemble themselves into cells has proved to be a major inspiration to soft matter science, with many researchers focussing on mimicking biological self assembly to invent new materials. The programme of the 2019 conference reflects this huge diversity.

With successful conferences held previously in Grenoble (France, 2016), Rome (Italy, 2013), Granada (Spain, 2010) and Aachen (Germany, 2007), the spotlight is now on Edinburgh. Hosted by the School of Physics and Astronomy, its main organiser is Wilson Poon, who holds one of the most ancient chairs in the University, that of Natural Philosophy.  Professor Poon said:

With all that is happening on the political scene, we in Edinburgh welcome this opportunity to demonstrate that the UK remains open and welcoming for international science.

Edinburgh, which already hosts one of the largest public science and technology festivals in Europe and with its rich history of leadership in science, will be at the forefront of international scientific exchange during the week when over 500 scientists descend onto the city to discuss goo galore!