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Film Review: Dance Your PhD

9 December 2013
Appeared in BioNews 734

Dance Your PhD

Organised by Science

Won by Sperm Competition between Brothers and Female Choice

'Dance Your PhD', organised by Science

Dancing cocks (that's male chickens, cheeky) in tight speedos fighting over a scantily clad egg might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about PhD theses. However, that just about describes this year's winner of Science magazine's Dance Your PhD contest.

For the people with enough endurance to churn one out, a PhD thesis is probably the biggest piece of writing they'll produce. Conversely, it will be read by the least amount of people. If you're lucky, all of four individual people (both your supervisors and your examiners) will actually manage to get all the way to the end. As it takes at least three, and often more years of your life to put down those tens of thousands of words in a comprehensible manner, this is can feel like a bit of a disappointment.

And that's where Dance Your PhD comes in. The contest, which is in its sixth year, aims to get the science across in a fun manner. In the case of this year’s winner, the directing student definitely seems to have had plenty of fun (for example by coming up with the idea to shoot a water ballet in a freezing cold lake). And it definitely makes for interesting videos.

Apart from the overall winner, a video on sperm competition, other category winners included a Bollywood-inspired video on linking proteins (chemistry), a human train depicting metal fatigue (physics), experimental sleep deprivation (social sciences) and retinoblastoma - an eye tumour - being attacked by salsa-dancing devilish proteins (reader favourite).

All winners will receive $500 in prize money, and the overall winner, Cedric Tan from Oxford, UK, has won an additional $500 and a trip to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Let’s mull over that while family members ask you what your PhD is on this Christmas.

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