Young scientists are being encouraged to forget the pressures of the laboratory and broaden their intellectual horizons under a new government scheme, writes Anna Fazackerley.
The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts is hosting discussion weekends for 30 early and mid-career scientists - from avian virologists to construction engineers - who might otherwise never meet.
The researchers met to debate ethical issues earlier this month. At a politics "laboratory" in July, they will spend two days discussing how scientists can influence politicians and move their work higher up the agenda.
A spokesperson for Nesta said: "The first meeting was a breath of fresh air. Everyone was complaining about the millions of things they had to do in their everyday life, and this is time out to think reflectively about key issues and what they do."
Participants in the Crucible scheme will have a chance to question politicians including Lord Sainsbury, the science minister, and Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat MP and member of the House of Commons science and technology committee, at the meeting in July.
They have been given a travel budget so that they can continue networking outside of these events.