Here are the 10 amateur scientists that have made it to our shortlist. The final four will be revealed on the 29th December at 4.30pm on the Material World.

  • a choir singing

    Name: Bill Henderson

    Occupation: Singing teacher

    Location: Inverness

    I am a singing teacher and choir leader and have witnessed at first hand the beneficial effects of singing on well being, especially singing together and in harmony. I would like to be able to examine these benefits in more detail and to find ways of showing the extent of these effects on ourselves. In particular I am fascinated by the idea of music as a physical vibration and the effects it has on our bodies (physical and emotional).

  • blackboard and chalk

    Name: Isabel Thomlinson

    Occupation: A-level student

    Location: Shropshire

    Everyone has experienced the cringey horribleness of noises like nails on a blackboard. I want to know if there is a particular frequency at which the sound is most unbearable, and if this frequency depends on a person's hearing range, and therefore their age, or perhaps other factors like gender.

  • queue

    Name: Kevin Hayes

    Occupation: Comedian and Actor

    Location: Leicester

    I would like to investigate the dynamics and psychology of queueing. A local theatre sells cheap tickets which go on sale at midday on the day of performance. Joining the queue before 11am pretty much guarantees you a ticket but takes an hour of your time, whilst arriving at 1pm means you won't have to queue but will invariably be disappointed. I would like to find the ideal time to join the queue so that you still get a ticket but don't have to wait too long.

  • faces

    Name: William Rudling

    Occupation: Illustrator

    Location: Leeds

    I'm a professional artist who is always looking at people's faces, i.e. caricature events or portraits. Over the years I've noticed people's faces with similar facial features will have a matching intonation in the sound of their voice. Does this mean the bone structure of the skull and muscle tissue influences the vocal chord? More akin to a musical instrument perhaps?

  • football

    Name: Dan O'Brien

    Occupation: Environmental Health Officer

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Does Fergie Time exist? A statistical analysis of extra time of premiership football games to establish if there is any statistically significant score dependent variation to the amount of extra time given by officials to clubs perceived as being more successful.

  • schoolchildren

    Name: Janis Craig

    Occupation: Head teacher

    Location: Edinburgh

    Being in education, I am aware of the variation in the behaviour of pupils. My gut feeling is that poor behaviour, rise in noise levels and general silliness are linked to the weather, in particular, high winds. It would be good to confirm or refute a long standing 'old wives/teachers' tale'. If this is confirmed, we could take preventative action to mitigate the effect on pupils' achievement.

  • painting

    Name: Dara Djavan Khoshdel

    Occupation: Student

    Location: Bournemouth

    I want to find out whether it is possible to predict how the value of a painting (relative to other similar paintings) by measuring the galvanic skin response, or micro-sweating, of ordinary people when they view it. It would be particularly interesting to find out if abstract art which affects our limbic system, the emotional part of the brain, is the same art which sells well.

  • fabric

    Name: Val Watham

    Occupation: Organisational Consultant

    Location: Berkshire

    I want to find out the effect that different fabric designs really have on our perception of someone's size. I would take photographs of volunteers wrapped in different patterns of fabric (stripes, bold patterns, different colours etc. I would then stretch the picture and ask them to reset it to the correct size (as used in body dysmorphia studies). I could then measure how the pattern affected their perception.

  • cows

    Name: David Prior

    Occupation: Transport Planner

    Location: Nottinghamshire

    Meteorological influences upon bovine orientation. Do cows lie down when it is about to rain? This will test if the famous 'old wives tale' which is usually related to the cows lying down before it rains in order to have the grass under them dry has any scientific basis.

  • swimming

    Name: Leeroy Murray

    Occupation: Retired

    Location: London

    I want to assess whether there are any real benefits or hazards of long term cold water swimming, including the physical and psychological impacts. Are there any long term benefits/or otherwise from cold water swimming. Or does cold water swimming simply appeal to a small group of eccentrics?

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