As the nationwide sell out Uncaged Monkeys tour was brought to a close at the Hammersmith Apollo last night, anyone in the audience could have been forgiven for believing that science is now officially in fashion.
The so called ‘night for nerds’ was fronted by comic Robin Ince, who wasted no time in giving us his insights into the genital-rubbing antics of pacifist monkeys (with actions you’ll be pleased to know). Other highlights of the evening included Professor Steve Jones explaining that we share 50% of our DNA with a banana, big bang theorist Simon Singh electrocuting a gherkin on stage to show that sodium burns with an orange flame and feisty comedian Dara O’Briain explaining his annoyance at the non-truths contained within the film 2012. Comic book writer Alan Moore and Dr Ben Goldacre also took to the stage in a science cabaret show interceded with musical performances.
The audience certainly got a bang for their buck, but the real draw of the evening was Wonders of the Universe presenter Professor Brian Cox, who has quickly established himself as in the public eye as the David Attenborough of physics. Science’s wonderboy took us through the workings of the of CERN’s large hadron collider amongst other things, using his trademark boyish charm and enthusiasm to explain that, despite what certain tabloid newspapers may tell you, we’re are not about to be engulfed in a black hole as a result of the particle smashing experiments.
It’s amazing and encouraging to see that a subject so often overlooked by school students can deliver a sell-out tour across the country, and be a shining example of how Brian Cox has transformed the appeal of science. Throughout the evening I understood most of what was said, though in retrospect I do feel that some subjects could have been explained in better terms for novices such as myself. On leaving the theatre though I overheard some scientists exclaiming they were disappointed about the lack of detail – I guess you can’t please everyone.
Overall, I had a thoroughly good evening, roaring with laughter at several points throughout the show. I walked away with a better knowledge of a subject that I often find hard to grasp, and feel that the integration of comedy into the teaching of scientific theories really does help make them easier to understand. Perhaps schools could learn a thing or two from this technique?