ETH Zurich has met NY

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More than 2,500 New Yorkers joined ETH Zurich professors and other well-known international personalities from U.S. research and industry for 12 awe-inspiring events as part of the Zürich Meets New York festival.


Advertising pillar at the Grand Central Station, NY. (Photo: Simone van Ligten / ETH Zurich)

ETH Zurich and its partners hosted a series of seminars, lectures and multi-media presentations at venues across New York City last week. The events illuminated the latest research in augmented reality, big data, black holes, cognitive computing, urban systems, risk, and resilience. More than 2,500 New Yorkers joined ETH Zurich professors and other well-known international personalities from U.S. research and industry for 12 awe-inspiring events as part of the Zürich Meets New York festival. The 8-day festival was presented by the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York, the City of Zurich, ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich.

Nurturing Genius

It was an opportunity to enlighten an international audience to ETH Zurich as not only a research institution, but also an educational institution that puts its knowledge into practice,” said Ralph Eichler, ETH President in an interview with Swiss Radio and T.V. (SFR). The event, “Nurturing the Genius of Tomorrow” was the best illustration of this opportunity with former Nobel laureate (2002), Kurt Wüthrich who shared stories about the challenges he faced in the early days of his research career. Wüthrich paneled a discussion with a Branco Weiss Fellow from Yale Law School and a recipient of an Excellence Fellowship currently at Harvard University. Bloomberg’s Susan Kish moderated the event, honoring Ralph Eichler’s last official visit to the U.S. as President of ETH Zurich.

How does ETH Zurich nurture the genius of tomorrow? “Our core philosophy is to have a strong emphasis…on mathematics, physics, and chemistry, but later during their Master’s studies, students are confronted with ideas and research to solve the grand problems of the world,” said Eichler during his address to friends of the university. In fact, in 2013, 24 new spin-offs were established by ETH researchers and students with an investment totaling 80 million Swiss francs.

“We offer a lot of freedom to our faculty members and our students, give them a lot of trust and we provide them, of course, with the means to pursue their goals,” revealed ETH rector Lino Guzzella, ETH Zurich. Guzzella, ETH computer scientist and Disney Research director Markus Gross; IBM representative Dave McQueeny, paneled a discussion on how collaboration with industries like IBM and Disney help ETH Zurich realize its research activities for the benefit of society.

Solving the Problems of the World

“In the next 40 years we have to build as much around the world as in the last 4,000 years,” said Gerhard Schmitt, ETH Zurich. The Urban Nature and Future Resilient Cities seminars explored the implications and the emergent thinking required from multiple disciplines – computer science, economics, and design – in order to face the challenges of future urban cites and systems.

In a lively debate, Didier Sornette, ETH Zurich and Nassim Taleb, New York University reminded participants of the resilience of New Yorkers during hurricane Sandy and in the aftermath of 911.

The Risk seminar was one of five festival events held in the New York Academy of Sciences on the 40th floor of the new 7 World Trade Center building, nearby the hallowed 911 memorial. The memorial is not only to remember those who perished, but it also serves as a reminder of what can be accomplished through the collective spirit of a city’s citizens.

Kevin Schawinski, ETH Zurich knows first-hand the value of the collective. Inspired by his PhD research, he engaged 25 million people around the world in an online project to classifying galaxies by their shape. “Crowd-sourcing is a way to achieve and to get data, in fact we participate in crowdsourcing everyday. As we use search engines, like Google or Bing, we are sharing our experiences and contributing to big data,” said Donald Kossman, ETH Zurich who moderated the Big Data event during the festival.

Science is not always about solving the problems of the world; however, sometimes it is used to help us enjoy life and experience feelings of happiness. The ETH Zurich MetroNeXt+ and the Eva Experience augmented reality installations in New York City’s historic Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall demonstrated some of the best ETH Zurich researchers have to offer – combining art with technology and providing an opportunity to virtually transport visitors in New York to Zurich. Disney Research also joined the festivities, presenting an exclusive inside look at the physics and science behind Disney’s animated feature films, in the lecture, "Disney: Creating the Magic through Technology".

Throughout the festival, Zürich Meets New York it was clear how science and research along with their work in the economy is bearing fruit and solving socially relevant issues making important contributions towards solving the problems of the future.

Gallery ETH Zurich meets New York

    Nobel Laureate of 2002, Kurt Wüthrich, giving a talk at the Zurich meets New York festival. (Photo: Simone van Ligten / ETH Zurich)


    Corina Adler, collaborator of ETH Zurich Foundation, is taking a souvenir shot at the Zurich meets New York festival. (Photo: Simone von Ligten / ETH Zurich)


    ETH Zurich marked a strong presence at Grand Central Station, NY. (Photo: Simone van Ligten / ETH Zurich)

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