Cosmology in 24 seconds

Each year scientists try to outshine one another during the 24/7 talks. This event is organized during the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony.

The Ig Nobel Prize is the light-hearted counterpart of the real Nobel Prizes. They highlight research that makes you laugh first, before it makes you think. One example: the research that proved that mosquitoes are attracted to cheese from the Limburg region.

Ig Nobel prize
Een presentatie tijdens de Ig Nobel ceremonie.

The 24/7 competition

The 24/7 competition is part of the all-night event. Researchers get 24 seconds to explain what they have been researching. After that, they have to summarize their findings in 7 words.

Each 24/7 speaker presents their research twice:

  1. A complete, in-depth technical description in 24 seconds
  2. A straightforward, easy-to-understand summary in 7 words

Below is an example of a 24-second presentation by cosmologist Henk Hoekstra:

Topic: Dark Matter

“Seventy percent of the energy-density of the universe consists of “dark energy”. We do not know what it is, but we do know what it does: it accelerates the expansion of the universe. This results in the fact that we can see less and less of the universe as time goes by. In the future, only our Milky Way will be visible. This is why we need to study Dark Matter before it is too late! We will do this research by using Euclid, a new space telescope which will be launched in 2020.”

His seven words: “The universe expands, yet appears to shrink.”

Want to see more examples? More 24/7 speeches can be found on the website of the Ig Nobel Prize

Your 24/7

Whether or not Hoekstra successfully conveyed his topic is a question I will leave to his cosmologist peers. But the 24/7 concept itself is definitely interesting. The format forces you to very succinctly express your message. Chances are that your 24 second summary is the perfect starting point for a more in-depth presentation. Working on a poster presentation? Even better – those 24 seconds are your entire presentation.

What is the 24/7 message about your research? Give this some thought.

Short and to the point

Short and to the point is not nearly as easy as it seems. You are an expert in your field, and you have much more to talk about when it comes to your field of expertise. Undoubtedly.

But imagine you are confined to just 24 seconds. It is crucial you make a small selection of things to talk about, and to decide which things to leave out. This is an important question that you should always keep in mind, even outside the 24/7 format.

(Source featured image: Annals of Improbable Research)