Famelab proves Science has got Talent

Five years after it first left the UK, the FameLab competition is returning once again to Cheltenham with 14 national winners ready to battle it out in front of millions of viewers in their home countries. The young scientists from across three continents will compete to see who is the most exciting, accessible and charismatic science communicator in the world, in a format run in partnership with the British Council.

Since its birth at Cheltenham Science Festival in 2004, FameLab has grown into arguably the world’s leading science communication competition. A partnership with the British Council since 2007 has seen the competition go global and over the years has been held, to huge acclaim, in 20 countries world-wide.

This year national winners from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania and Serbia will all be heading to Cheltenham for the grand International Final on Saturday 11 June. Each contestant has already proved their scientific prowess and earned their crowns by being judged according to Famelab’s golden rule - the 3C’s: Content, Clarity and Charisma.

”How could you hear God on the radio?” “Why do mosquitoes bite only some of us?” “Why is the sky blue?” “How a mother of three children may not be the mother of two of them?” – with answers to questions like these and many more the contestants are challenged to impress the judges in just three minutes. Former Famelab UK star and stand-up mathematician Matt Parker is host in the format familiar from Britain’s Got Talent and the X Factor.

Love and relationships has proved a winning subject with the Chemistry of Love securing the prize for Croatian Marko Kosicek in 2008, and the unusual story of how you can get a date by explaining The Birth of Supernova proved popular for last year’s winner Vasilis Gregoriadis from Greece.

In 2009, Serbian Mirko Djordjevic took the FameLab International with a three minute talk on Sexual Evolution. Upon winning his prize Mirko summed up the importance of FameLab as being all about - “Global science! No country working in isolation. Scientists collaborating together: this is the future.” The fourteen contestants in the 2011 International Final are living proof of the uniting power of science across continents. Famelab’s message will go global as the whole final will be filmed by six international TV crews who will broadcast the event, and highlights from the festival, world-wide.

The competition will be judged by an international panel of science communication experts, including:

  • Kathy Sykes, British physicist, academic and broadcaster, Professor of Sciences and Society at the University of Bristol and co-director of The Times Cheltenham Science Festival;
  • Roger Highfield, the Editor of New Scientist, and former science editor of The Daily Telegraph, who became the first person to bounce a neutron off a bubble (made with heavy soap) during his DPhil in physical chemistry, conducted at Oxford University and the Institut Laue Langevin, Grenoble.
  • George Zarkadakis, Greek novelist, playwright and science journalist who studied Systems Engineering at City University, London and has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence

For more information about the finalists visit FameLab International Final 2011.