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Take two physicists and one mathematician, add in some good natured ribbing with each other, and some impressive looking experiments, and you have Festival of the Spoken Nerd.  Steve Mould, Helen Arney (the two physicists) and Matt Parker (the mathematician) present an evening of good humour, science-inspired songs, and fascinating facts – and it’s hugely enjoyable.

The music came courtesy of Arney, whose songs have actually been credited as a learning tool by the Open University, and it’s easy to see why.  They’re catchy, and because of the humorous lyrics, easy to remember – and let’s be honest, it’s not often you get songs about cryogenic freezing, or the condition of synesthesia (where you feel one sense when another is stimulated; for example, you might hear music as colour).  She also attempted to break a wine glass with her voice – although on this occasion, it took a member of the audience’s voice for this to actually work!

Mould did an amazing trick (sort of: it’s not a trick, more of a natural phenomenon which still looks pretty nifty) with a beaker of string beads, as well as creating fire tornados, and electrocuting a pickle (honestly, that is MUCH better than it sounds). He also explained how we perceive colours, even when they’re not actually there.  Kind of.

Parker had the unenviable task of making maths fun, but he does it.  He explained how to turn any picture into a spreadsheet, and had lots of fun with air vortices.  Even though I knew how they worked, it was still great to watch, and Parker’s enthusiasm was infectious.

I really enjoyed the interplay between the three hosts – I imagine that the show was pretty scripted, but despite that, the jokes felt fresh and spontaneous.  Audience participation is encouraged with some of the experiments, and also via Twitter, throughout the show.

You don’t need to be into science or maths to enjoy this show (I never enjoyed either subject when I was at school), but it might awaken an interest in the subjects, and even if it doesn’t, the show is so good natured, and the three hosts are just so likeable, that a few hours watching full frontal nerdity turns out to be a perfect way to spend an evening.  if you get chance to see this show, I definitely recommend it.

(For more information about Festival of the Spoken Nerd, please click here.)

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