Monday, April 26, 2010

So you want to be a scientist?

In the age of TV talent competitions and the X Factor, the BBC have used the format to help amateur scientists turn their ideas into real experiments.

This week, four finalists for the "So you want to be a scientist?" competition were announced. These came from the some 1,300 ideas which were submitted since January.

The amateur scientists will now work with experienced researchers to design and implement their experiments and collect and analyse the results, They'll present the results at the British Science Festival in September when the judges will pick an overall winner.

The four finalists are:

Sam O'kell, a croupier, who wants to test his hypothese that concert crowds are more dense between 6-10 feet from the stage rather than at the very front.

Ruth Brooks, a retired special needs tutor, wants to protect her plants by establishing the homing distance of the Garden Snail. "How far away do I ahve to dump them before they find their way back to my garden?"

Nina Jones, a 17-year-old A-level student, is interested in Facebook and particularly what makes up a typical Facebook profile picture. Adults seem to show a big event in their lives, while teenagers tend to use a picture of themselves having a great time. Nina will see if this is true and why it occurs.

The final place (which was a very close call by all acounts) went to John Rowlands who wants to "investigate the frequency and brightness of noctilucent clouds".

Ideas which made the shortlist, but just missed out on a place in the final include an investigation by a gallery owner into why more people come into the gallery when he places a mannequin in the window. Do art lovers not like to be on their own?

Another shortlisted amateur scientist wanted to see whether getting a choir to sing a piece of music based on the sounds of bees to the hive once a week would increase honey production.

Angus Johnson on the other hand proposed an investigation into the ability of men and women in their ability to find one item amid a clutter of other objects. Are men much messier than women?

Science writer and broadcaster Dr. Adam Rutherford welcomed the competition noting that "science is not a bank of knowledge. It's a way of knowing. Qualifications and working in professional labs certainly does help, but if you've ever looked at something and thought "hmmm, how does that work?" or "what happens if I...?" then you're thinking like a scientist already."

If you're in school and interested in trying your hand at some scientific experiments, then you can try the BT Young Scientist Competition or SciFest.


  © Communicate Science; Blogger template 'Isolation' by 2012

Back to TOP