Insects to be served at Ball of Sciences

The Vienna Ball of Sciences - a relatively new fixture on Vienna’s ball scene in January - will be serving up plates of protein-rich mealworms and grasshoppers to its guests, alongside the usual fare of sausages and canapés.

Insects to be served at Ball of Sciences
One of the carniverous table settings. Photo: David Bohmann - PID

And the guests won’t be the only ones eating creepy-crawlies – carnivorous plants such as Venus flytraps, borrowed from Vienna’s botanical gardens – will serve as novel table decorations.


The Ball of Sciences, now in its second year, will take place on January 30th in the Town Hall (Rathaus) the day after the controversial right-wing Akademikerball.

Ball of Sciences organizer Oliver Lehmann has said that his event is about diversity and openness but that he isn’t setting out to be an ‘anti-Akademikerball’, even though he said it was nothing more than “a networking opportunity for the extreme right”.

He said that the aim of his ball is to “represent Vienna science in all its diversity, excellence and greatness.”

The guest of honour will be Eric Kandel, an American neuropsychiatrist and Nobel prize winner who was born in Vienna to Jewish parents and left Austria in 1938 as a child. 

Life Ball organiser and AIDS activist Gery Keszler will be one of the Ball of Sciences’ ambassadors.

Tickets cost €80, and €25 for students. Money raised from the ball’s casino will go to a fund a Vienna University initiative to help refugees.

Vienna’s ball season reaches its peak in January and February, with hunters, doctors, lawyers and coffee-house owners all holding their own events.

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World’s first vaccine for toxic shock syndrome in Vienna

The world’s first vaccine for toxic shock syndrome that can occur in women from using tampons has been developed by researchers at a Vienna university.

World's first vaccine for toxic shock syndrome in Vienna

After testing the vaccine on 46 young men and women, scientists from MedUni Vienna's Department of Clinical Pharmacology found it was safe and effective and had practically no side effects, according to a report in Science Daily.

Toxic Shock Syndrome is the name for organ and circulatory failure caused by toxins in the body, first described in the 1980s.

Having occurred in women who used certain types of tampons, the syndrome became known as tampon disease and its discovery led to regulations being placed on super-absorbent tampons.

Around fifty percent of cases are associated with menstruation in young women but it can also affect those whose immune systems are already compromised, including dialysis patients, the chronically sick, and those recovering after heart operations.

In the UK, the family of a 14-year-old girl who died from Toxic Shock Syndrome after using a tampon for the first time started a campaign in 2013 to raise awareness of the issue. Natasha Scott-Falber died suddenly five days after she fell ill with what was thought to be the norovirus. Only afterwards did her family find out it was Toxic Shock was the cause.

The toxins are usually triggered by bacteria from the Staphylococcus group. The new vaccine was developed by the Vienna researchers from a detoxified Staphylococcus toxin and was tested in a clinical Phase I trial, the first stage of human testing.

The results of the trial were published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases. Immunisation with the vaccine, which is injected, lasts about five years.

“We are well on the way to having a vaccine that prevents this series disease. However, it will still take some years before it is in clinical use,” explains Martha Eibl, director of Biomedizinische Forschungsgesellscaft mbH, who are collaborating with the university on the project.