On Tuesday I was lucky enough to take part in the first ever Science Showoff (sso), a science communication “open mic” night, where people can sign up to perform 10 minutes about pretty much any aspect of science – there were people talking about bread science (the charming Sarah Castor-Perry, who was kind emough to feed me her bread when I forgot dinner), singing about phonetics (power duo Jane Setter and Tim Wharton), and, uh, hitting goo with a wok (Fran Scott). I was there in my guise of musical scientist with a new song about neutrinos (sort of) and an old song about slightly aspergers physicists; which a very nice audience seemed to get on with. I thought the night was a great success, and despite similarities to its super-successful sibling, Bright Club, it was different in important ways. Firstly, it was less curated, which means (as any open mic-goer knows) the potential for more risk-taking, more rubbish and more offbeat brilliance in the long run. I find that quite exciting.
The fact that people choose their medium (talk, film, song, wok) means that people can choose a way to communicate that they enjoy and feel comfortable with. Not every researcher will want of be funny, in the stand up sense; I’ve seen performers at Bright Club try and fail, focussing on “being a stand up” rather than the unique and interesting things about them and their work. There are lots of other ways to be fun, interesting, engaging and entertaining, and sso gives people those avenues to explore.
Of course, the criticism of sso is that it’s *science* show off – are “Humanities Show Off” and “Arts Show Off” on their way? I hope so. I’m sure I’d find a way to put my name down for those too – did I mention I have a song about Ayn Rand…?
I will provide a link to my neutrino song in due course; you can listen to the other one here: