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I attended the final of the The3is in Three competition on Wednesday night. It was a really entertaining evening; compere Te Radar was in great form, as were the eight finalists  (N.B. I know that those of you who are not from NZ won’t have the slightest idea who Te Radar is, but I’m sure Google could solve that for you.) Each contestant had three minutes to present their PhD research, with the aid of one powerpoint slide and whatever over-exaggerated hand movements they wished to employ.

Overall, it was simply impressive how well the research topics were communicated. Even those that you would think were so technical that it would take more like three hours to do it. There were three science finalists, looking at topics of dealing with waste products from meat processing, tracing the origin of sediment in river estuaries, and understanding the survival mechanisms of a harmful bacteria. As a scientist, I hoped that one of those would win, but, alas, the prize went to an analysis of the last words uttered by Shakespearean characters as they met with unorthodox demises.

I wonder whether I could put my PhD thesis (a few years old now) into three minutes. It’s a tough ask;  it rejoices under the title of ‘Auxiliary field quantum Monte Carlo calculations for exotic jellium’. If you want to know more, I’m sure the University of Bristol library could fish you out a copy from its archives. But if the students from Wednesday night could manage it with their work, it’s got to be possible.