Oxford physicist reaches final of FameLab UK

19 March 2012

Oxford Physics researcher Andrew Steele will be competing in the UK final of FameLab on Wednesday evening. His three-minute talk on a scientific topic will be pitted against those from nine other national finalists, selected at heats around the country.

The final will take place at the Royal Institution in London, for those who can’t make it to the capital, it should also be viewable as a live stream online.

The competition seeks to find and nurture the best new science communicators by getting them to deliver a tidbit of science in just three minutes, and their performance is then judged on ‘content, clarity and charisma’. The judges on Wednesday will be Oxford neuroscientist Professor Russell Foster, head of the BBC’s science unit Andrew Cohen, and anatomist, science writer and broadcaster Professor Alice Roberts.

‘Three minutes is an incredibly short period of time to convey any scientific understanding,’ said Andrew, ‘So choosing your subject and paring it down to the bare essentials are both very important.’

A different talk must be given for each round of the competition: Andrew won his regional heat by explaining how we can use a CD and a cereal box to work out what distant stars are made from, and the South-East Regional Final with a talk about how human activity is making clouds whiter, and masking some of the global warming effects of carbon dioxide. However, he doesn’t want to spoil the surprise for his next talk, so he’s keeping his topic for Wednesday night under wraps!

Speaking of making it to the final, Andrew said ‘Events like FameLab are so important because they help to convey some of the wonder of science, and show how work which starts on the lab bench permeates and improves our everyday lives. But the thing I’m probably most excited about is talking in the Ri lecture theatre! It’s the home of the Christmas Lectures, which I loved as a kid.’