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A tennis ball with a wig

We have all encountered the problem of trying to explain to our non-science friends and family what we are actually doing. What are we actually working on and why is that important to begin with. Often times we are not aware of how much jargon we use, because we use it so much. But the jargon itself is not the problem, the biggest problem is that the jargon represents something material to us, but something abstract for our non-science friends and family.

But we have one big advantage over theoretical physicists. Our work comes down to biology and we can all see biology. How do you explain that one piece you are working on with respect to string theory or to the holographic principle?

To facilitate this process of explaining complex principles to your friends and family, FameLab holds a competition. This year there were several great entries, including a Czeck chemist Michel Babic (PhD candidate!) who used a tennis ball and a Pippi Longstocking wig to explain his nanopartical research. “Nanoparticles are bald; cells do not like them,” said Babic. “I can begin the process of polymerization to create hair. If I repeat the process long enough, I can cut the hair and create a hairstyle that is now attractive for cells.” So I guess cells like rebellious and super-strong kids with a seafaring father. Who knew?

Link to the New Scientist article.

Link to BioTechniques article.

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