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PlanetS at Swiss Fantasy Show

By Pierre Bratschi

An unusual proposal arrived on the desk of the platform communication and outreach members of PlanetS to participate in the Swiss Fantasy Show, a convention bringing together thousands of sci-fi fanatics.  “Okay,” Willy Benz finally declared after a long reflection tinged with skepticism, “but we are scientists who do science. Show that it is science that has often inspired the sci-fi and that science can sometimes be beyond the wildest imagination of sci-fi writers,” said the director of PlanetS. Willy Benz did not cite the case of Tatooine, the Star Wars planet with two stars, but everyone thought of it.

Stéphane Udry and Pierre Bratschi at the Swiss Fantasy Show.

Stéphane Udry and Pierre Bratschi cross swords. (Image: Observatory of Geneva)

Stéphane Udry, co-director of PlanetS, also supported the proposal with enthusiasm, “that’s fine, you can touch a lot of people who are by definition interested in sci-fi and thus likely a little in science.”

Vincent Brügger, director of the Swiss Fantasy Show (SFS) was thrilled, he offered a stand of some 10m2 and all entry and parking facilities to enable PlanetS members installing the provided equipment. “This is the third edition of SFS and from the begining I dreamed of having scientists talk about the reality,” said the founder of SFS. The PlanetS stand was big enough to catch the eye of the visitors, there was a PlanetS pillar exhibit, the model of CHEOPS, a giant screen where spectacular photos were showing in a loop and a 3D printer printing CHEOPS babies.

More than 7,000 people attended the event and many onlookers stopped in front of the stand, with a recurring question: “What is PlanetS ?”. The 3D printer also attracted its share of curious visitors, and as it printed CHEOPS, the transition on the construction of the first Swiss satellite was therefore natural. To top it off, the convention management offered us a 45-minutes time slot to present a lecture entitled “existence of extraterrestrial life, fiction or reality.” The conference was highly successful as the 80 seats were not enough to satisfy the demand.

The PlanetS stand attracted a lot of people and members of the NCCR witnessed a real procession of costumes. Most sophisticated and extravagant outfits showed up, such as, Darth Vader (Star Wars) Sauron (Lord of the Rings) Iron Man and all the super heroes who marched during the two days of the convention. The highlight of the event was the largest Cosplay show which took place in the hall of Beausobre theater in Morges in front of over 800 people.

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