3 Minutes of Fame

Where are all the quarks? Am I what I eat? What has the large hadron collider done for me? I learned the answer to all these questions and more competing in Fame Lab UK this month. Fame Lab is an international science communication competition which challenges participants to present a Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths concept in an entertaining way in just three minutes. Piece of cake right? In early February I went along to a workshop at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry to find out more.

After advanced advice on using rhetoric in speaking and simpler tips like balancing on one leg to avoid fidgeting in front of your audience I was ready to throw my hat into the ring. The Manchester heats were also held at the museum a week later. My talk, titled ‘Immune Assassins’ won me third place and I qualified for the Manchester Final! This was a slightly more intimidating affair than the heats, with a photographer, microphones and a larger audience. I gave it my best shot with my talk ‘How could a llama save your life?’ but the competition was fierce and this is where my 3 minutes of fame ended. Congratulations to the winner Dr Alex Conner whose excellent talk on his ‘achy breaky heart’ took him through to the final. My fellow Manchester heat winners Jonny Hughes and Thomas Pacey, won the wildcard shots at the final with inspiring talks on the big bang and the science of PET scanners. Throughout the whole experience the supportive atmosphere between competitors was fantastic. Being put in a room with other people who love to talk about science, especially coming from different fields, made for a  melting pot of ideas. It only took a 5 minute break between talks to come up with a physics-chemistry-biology tag team fame lab talk!

I’ve definitely got the bug for standing up for my science. Getting the audience listening and laughing was a fantastic feeling, and hearing that people had learned something or wanted to know more afterwards was even better. I look forward to trying again next year.

Here’s a video of my talk from the heats, I hope you enjoy hearing about ‘Immune Assassins’. I’m going to leave you wondering about how a llama could save your life for now, look forward to an extended edition of that talk sometime soon!



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