Each year the American Association for the Advancement of Science runs the most absurdly awesome competition ever created: Dance Your PhD.
Yep, you read that right. Doctoral candidates in the sciences work tirelessly for years on cutting edge projects that will add something original to their field and then they think…huh, I wonder what this research would look like as an interpretive dance?
Well, maybe not. The lure is probably that Science sponsors the competition and awards the winners with cold hard cash and a trip to sunny California. Regardless of the motivation, it makes for some of the geekiest and most fabulous dances ever choreographed.
This year’s winner is Uma Nagendra. Her aerial dancers are interpreting seedlings that are forever changed when a tornado hits, but surprisingly the change isn’t all bad. Nagendra’s work illustrates that the disruption of a tornado provides trees with respite from parasitic fungi.
But, as much as we love Uma’s trapeze seedlings, we’d like to bring two of the honorable mentions in this year’s cohort to your attention.
Patrizia Tavormina’s video explores the way plants defend themselves when they are threatened by stressors like fungi and other poor growing conditions. Tavormina’s entry was also a finalist in the Biology category and the judges must have had a hell of a time deciding between the winners. Particularly when the ribosome translates the RNA into very small proteins (2: 16 into the video).
The winner of the physics category, Hans Rinderknecht, was our personal favorite, creating a masterpiece that explains inertial confinement set to Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone.
While we here at Bitter Empire love these particular entries, perhaps you would like to review the entire corpus to choose your own favorite.
To explore the submissions from all 12 finalist in the 2014 Dance Your Dissertation Competition, head on over to the full announcement at Science Magazine.