Tag Archives: Event

Comedy Collider: No Cause for ConCERN

On Friday the 13th of June the Comedy Collider team hosted our second show at CERN’s Globe of Science and Innovation. The seats were once-again completely sold-out before the day of the event, and the waiting list was only growing, so we we looked forward to a good crowd. We’d enlisted a entirely brand new set of amateur and professional comedians to entertain for the evening, including Spain’s The Big Van Theory and The Spoken Nerd’s Helen Arney providing musical meekness! Our host for the evening was Chella Quint. The CERN amateurs taking to the Comedy Collider stage were Nazim Hussain, Cat Demetriades and Aidan Randle-Conde and they were all brilliant!

Unfortunately we had competitors for the online audience that night: Spain vs The Netherlands in the 2014 Mens Football World Cup. We can’t really blame people for wanting to watch the game, so we’re sharing the link to the show, available to watch online now, or any time you like – just click below. Enjoy!

https://cds.cern.ch/record/1728261

You can also view a storify of the event, here.

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Higgs Boson and Beyond

In my last post, I wrote about the second year anniversary of the Higgs boson discovery, so it was very timely that the weekend directly afterwards I spent at the Royal Society‘s Summer Science Exhibition, talking to the public about the Higgs boson and where it could lead.

The Higgs Boson and Beyond logo.
The Higgs Boson and Beyond logo.

The exhibit was a partnership of many UK universities and they all sent researchers to take shifts on the stall during the event. I went on behalf of the University of Manchester. Here is a lovely video about the Higgs discovery, which was made for the exhibit:

High-energy physics aims to understand how nature works at a fundamental level described by elementary particles. Our current theory, the Standard Model of Particle Physics, is remarkably successful. Find out what the Higgs boson can tell us about new physics beyond the Standard Model.

Since I was working the weekend shifts, the exhibit was very busy both days and I was able to chat with many different people, from very young children to senior citizens, all wanting to know: “what is the Higgs boson?”. There were a lot of activities for them to take part in, such as working out the mass of the Higgs on a tablet computer, to manipulating a beam of electrons in magnetic field and also a competition to find rare Higgs events (and win prizes!). We also had an actual piece of the ATLAS detector (left over from when it was built) and knitted particles to help explain the theory of supersymmetry (or SUSY for short).

It was also fantastic that so many female scientists were available to work on the exhibit – just being visible, especially when there were so many young children visiting the stall, makes a huge difference!

Speaking of children, they (and many adults) were very keen on our Nobel Prizes!

Unfortunately the Royal Society Summer Science event is over for this year, but I highly recommend that you take a look at the booklet (via the website) that was produced for the exhibit. It’s very beautiful and it elegantly explains the whole process of creating a Higgs boson and how we study it, including some very difficult concepts!

Also, if you’d like the Higgs Boson and Beyond stall for a future science festival event, get in contact with them either on Twitter, or through their website: http://the-higgs-boson-and-beyond.org . Alternatively, you can leave a comment below and I will pass the message on.

A physicist walks onto a stage…

Last August (in 2013) the first LHComedy stand up show was held at CERN. I was in the final months of writing my PhD thesis, so obviously that was a perfect time to place myself at the mercy of a stand-up comedy crowd.

LHComedy: CERN After Dark
LHComedy: CERN After Dark

You might be asking, “why do a science comedy show?”. The word scientist can have so many negative connotations, just look at the autofill for Google if you type in “Scientists are…”, and you can see it’s not great!

Google's predictive text for a sentence starting: "Scientists are..."
Google’s predictive text for a sentence starting: “Scientists are…”

LHComedy was set up to combat some of these stereotypes, and of course, to entertain at the same time! This first event took place in CERN’s Globe of Science and Innovation and was hosted by Radio 4’s Helen Keen. There were fantastic performances by all the CERN amateur comedians: Alex Brown, Ben Frisch, Sam Gregson, Hugo Day & Claire Lee. Rob Knoops worked back stage to make sure everything ran smoothly. We also had professionals, Lieven Scheire and Piere Noveli, who were brilliant and not to mention the wonderfully geeky music from Jonny Berliner.

I performed a stand-up routine about particle physics and being a female physicist. I talked about being the only woman at an experiment at DESY during International Women’s Day and how my colleagues thought they could support me. I also recalled what happened when two male PhD physics students tried to show off when I worked as a barmaid (between semesters of my undergraduate physics degree).

We sold out all 300 tickets a week before the event so the globe was packed — an important factor when you do a stand-up gig is actually having an audience to perform to! That they were a lovely audience was an added bonus! The event was also broadcast live online via the CERN webcast and we had approximately ten thousand unique live connections – at the time it was the highest number since the Higgs announcement in July, 2012!

If you’d like to watch the whole thing, the link to the recording is here (if you’d like to jump ahead to me, I’m a little after 50 minutes, but I don’t encourage that! 😉 ): https://cds.cern.ch/record/1597883?ln=en

Me on stage for the LHComedy performance - 30th August 2014.
Me on stage for the LHComedy performance – 30th August 2014.

Since the first event, LHComedy has become Comedy Collider, due to another comedy group already having the original name. The evening was so successful, there had to be a second event, so as soon as after Christmas 2013, we begun the preparations. Recently, I’ve been diligently adding photos from our previous event onto the @ComedyCollider Twitter feed so that everything was up-to-date for the announcement of our second event! In case you missed it, here it is:

And that’s tonight!

It will again take place in the Globe at CERN and all of our tickets sold out a couple of days ago, so we are looking forward to another full audience. Do not worry though, there will be a live webcast of the event here so you can watch online.

Webcast link: http://webcast.web.cern.ch/webcast/play.php?event=318724

The show will be hosted by Chella Quint and we have a whole new ensemble of CERN amateur performers, Nazim Hussain, Aidan Randle-Conde and Cat Demetriades! We will also be joined by Helen Arney from Festival of the Spoken Nerd for some fantastic music, and headlining will be FameLab Spain alumni, Miguel and Eduardo from The Big Van Theory.

Since I am in Romania for meetings this week, I will be watching the webcast too, and also monitoring the social media – why don’t you come over to @ComedyCollider during the show to say hi! Or you can use our hashtag, #noConCERN.

The next LHComedy event, Comedy Collider: No Cause for ConCERN, takes place at CERN tomorrow, Friday the 13th of June, starting at 8pm.

Link to Guardian blog post: http://www.theguardian.com/science/life-and-physics/2014/jun/06/comedy-collider-no-cause-for-concern