UCL’s Sophie Abrahams talks Ig Nobel Prizes and levitating frogs at our Sixth Form for British Science Week

16 March 2018

As part of British Science Week, the Physics department at the sixth form centre invited Sophie Abrahams, a second year undergraduate from UCL, to talk about the Ig Nobel prizes.

The Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.

As Sophie prepared to start her talk there was a buzz of excitement from the audience, primarily made up of first and second year physics students, who were looking forward to finding out about some of the past Ig Nobel winners such as last years’ winners who asked the question: "Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?"


As the room began to quickly fill up, Sophie began her presentation with some background about the Ig Nobel prizes and quickly went onto demonstrate some examples including research that came up with a formula to calculate how many photos need to be taken with a large group of people so that at least one photo has nobody blinking. The highlight of the talk was the research that won the 2000 Ig Nobel prize which involved using magnets to levitate frogs (none were harmed in the research!). There was an appreciation from students to learn that this involved physics that they were currently learning about in their A-Levels.

The talk ended shortly after the half hour mark and was followed by questions from the audience who were both very interested to hear about Sophie’s experience of higher education so far in a STEM related degree and about the Ig Nobel prizes which is in its 27th year.

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