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London Science Festival Special

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 27 October 2011

Material World this week comes from the London Science Festival. Quentin Cooper presents an outside broadcast recorded in front of an audience at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

The programme celebrates citizen science and do-it-yourself discovery, as part of 'So You Want to Be a Scientist?', Radio 4's search for the next BBC Amateur Scientist of the Year.

Producer: Michelle Martin

  • Guerilla science

    Guerilla science

    Nakima the chimpanzee.

    Photo courtesy of Jan Garen from the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary

    Some of last year’s hopefuls get the chance to test out their questions with the aid of performance troupe, Guerilla Science. This year has seen acclaimed performances by Guerilla Science at Glastonbury, where revellers entered their Decontamination Unit and at the National Portrait Gallery, exploring the nature of beauty in The Glamour Factory.

    Today, the team invite last year's shortlisted amateur Annie Trolley, and her two teenage sons, to take part in an aroma challenge.

    We asked the whole family to wear t-shirts for 3 nights running. Plus we had samples from Zoe Cromier from Guerilla Science and a mystery guest - Nakima (see picture above) from the Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary. But how much could the audience tell about them, just from their smell?

    Dr Leslie Knapp, a biological anthropologist from Cambridge University, is on hand to decode the data and explain why smell is a vital to us for choosing, or rejecting, potential suitors.

  • Inside the Zooniverse

    Inside the Zooniverse

    The log of Captain Edward Ramage of HM sloop Rattlesnake, Nov 1796. Photo: National Maritime Museum

    Astronomer and Sky at Night presenter Chris Lintott gives us a tour of his Zooniverse - the online portal where citizen scientists can take part in real research, from hunting supernovae to discovering new planets.

    One of their research projects, based at the National Maritime Museum is called ‘Old Weather’. Visitors can adopt a ship and analyse old naval logs to input weather data which will help environmental scientists improve their climate change models.

  • One man and his mannequin

    One man and his mannequin

    Flora appreciates the exhibition Photo: Shane Record

    Also on the bill is one of last year’s hopefuls Shane Record, along with his sidekick Flora the mannequin.

    Shane was convinced that having a dummy inside his art gallery improved visitor numbers, as people were more likely to enter if they thought they wouldn’t be alone.

    But will this work at the National Maritime Museum? And is it just men who are attracted to the quiet brunette standing in the corner?

    Quentin is also joined by 'So You Want to Be a Scientist?' judge, Dr Lucie Green, to provide inspiration and advice for this year’s entrants.

    The deadline for entries is now midnight on Tuesday 15 November 2011.

    Producer: Michelle Martin

  • Material World at the National Museum

    Material World at the National Museum

    Quentin Cooper chairs a special edition at the National Maritime Museum


Inside Science

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  1. Image for Material World

    Material World

    Weekly science conversation, on everything from archaeology to zoology, from abacus to the…

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