Festival of the Spoken Nerd vs Professor Elemental – The Old Market, 18/2/2016

Science makes me happy pretty much all the time. The reason for that is, if you want the scientific reason, due to some combination of genetics, time, space, stimulation and electrons in my brain – or something along those lines. My favourite type of science is the sort of science that surprises me by explaining something that I understood completely differently, like the reasons things are certain colours, or that humanity is totally futile and pointless, and we will never meet aliens because they’re probably in different dimensions and such. I REALLY “f*ing love science” on Facebook! Many of these sorts of themes were addressed in this show, and it had a huge serving of music and funnies to keep that part of me satisfied as well.

The show was really family friendly, in a Brighton sort of way – there as a lot of swearing and some quite sophisticated social and abstract concepts in equal measure, so I forgave that largely, managing to actually really enjoy myself in the company of the families and science ‘geeks’ in the audience. Actually, I felt a bit left out at times, because I realised I’m totally not that big of a geek, about some things sure, but that’s more obsessive than actual geekery. Lots of people in this audience were laughing at totally ‘in’ science jokes that will remain totally beyond my grasp for the rest of my life, until I am dead.

The show was executed using a fairly high tech set up, using lots of practical apparatus in order to keep things interesting, so we weren’t just talking through graphs and such, although graphs were given a really cool representation tonight, thanks to Matt Parker, who I hazard a guess is the main factual driving force behind this whole affair. Brighton-esque jokes included those based on being ‘sci-curious’, and jokes relating to gas flow and ‘smelling percentages’ – HA! Is all I can say to this.

My personal favourite demonstration was relating to the intensity of a sound wave. This was demonstrated using fire. Everyone likes fire. A tube with holes in the top, fed gas through the pipe, then fire was sent down the tube, at the same time as a sound wave. The sound wave, where you could see it was a standing wave in a perfect length measured tube prop, created bigger fire where the intensity of the wave was low, and no fire where it was high. So it created a kinda wave shape. Anyway, science is cool, but you gotta be there man!

The evening was split into two, the second half was passed over into the hands of local steampunk rapper dude Professor Elemental, who made science ‘fun’, by rapping it. Yeah it was kind of fun, but actually, me being a total music snob found this bit a little humiliating, like a total bastardisation of a culture by a guy who was sad to be a teacher and so used hip-hop ironically to become a comedian. It was pretty clever, in a ‘dad humour’ kind of way, and sure, there’s a place for this kind of stuff.

The three coloured fire braid was really super ace, and it’s nice to know these guys are going to turn the show into a radio 4 production, good on you guys – this thing works really well for the geeks and those with kids who maybe struggle letting their hair down. These guys are sort of rock stars of science, and hell, if Brian Cox can graduate from Pop Star to science pro, then why can’t scientists become rock stars (hip hop stars)? Entertainers at least, the show was a sell out – it’s not rocket science after all!

Words by Andrew Halliday

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