Dance your science PhD and win prizes!

Posted by admin on Oct 13, 2011 in geekery, technology |

Every year thousands of students undertake Ph.D’s. They tend to create rather long and weighty tomes about particular topics, all very well explained, educationally pleasing and generally very VERY detailed. Now as much as it’s great to get recognition from your academic peers it might be nice if the general public (also known as Mum and Dad) had some idea about what you’ve actually spent your time doing, and this is where the ‘Dance Your Ph.D’ contest comes into play.

Essentially, it’s exactly how it sounds- you have a couple of minutes to display the whole of your thesis and forethought behind your PhD in dance. From choreographed balletic pieces to modern dance histrionics, how you perform is up to you, the only rules that exist are that your PhD is in a science related field and that you upload your video to Vimeo (they’re a sponsor).

I think this is a fantastic idea- it makes the fields of science so much more accessible, it allows students to evolve their creative side, and it gives the general public something to watch that entertains and educates. I have a friend who has entered this years contest and suddenly I actually feel attuned to her project, rather than it being something complicated and distant.

There are four categories in total; Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Social Sciences, and all dances are scored on 3 scales; scientific merit, artistic merit, and creative combination of the science and art.  You’re also encouraged to fully explain the nature of your project in the description area below your video (in case it’s very off the wall and you need a guiding post). There will be a winner in each category and an overall winner that gets flown to Brussels for the TEDx conference and a nice wad of cash.

Here’s my friends entry to the contest:

Cosmological Simulations of Galactic Disc Assembly from Elisa House on Vimeo.

[Here's the description of her project, which each entry must include]

‘Our dance starts with a bang, a Big Bang. The dancers expand homogeneously like gas and the mysterious dark matter. This dance is mirrored throughout the Universe and reflects the lack of a centre. As hard as they try to ride the expansion, the dancers cannot escape as the pull of gravity forces them back into the clutches of the imperious dark matter, causing them to collapse.

Filamentary structures start to form as the dark matter takes control over the fate of the dancers. Using gravity as its lasso the dark matter pulls the dancers ever closer. Chaotic mergers, collisions and interactions of the dancers build the galaxy. These mergers become less frequent as the Universe ages allowing for more ordered motions. Satellite dancers fall into the forming galaxy late and are stripped bare. Emerging gloriously, the galaxy swirls and spins her beautiful disc while the remaining satellites dance to her tune.’

Below are a few of the entries from previous years ;

Are you as impressed as I am by this fusion of science and art, or do you wish the students would push the boundaries even more? How about ‘My science PhD in a 3 minute sketch show?’ Just throwing that idea out there… Winners will be announced in two days (15th October)- will be interesting to see what the judges decide.

Find out more about the Dance Your PhD contest 2011 here.

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