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Spin waves and free will win FameLab qualifying round

12 February 2016

While the scientific world was reeling from the discovery of gravitational waves, another kind of wave took centre stage at the qualifying round of FameLab in Groningen last Thursday evening. A presentation on spin waves – and one on free will – managed to convince the jury.

Left, winners Timothy and Ludo | Photo Science LinX
Left, winners Timothy and Ludo | Photo Science LinX

On the evening of Thursday 11 February, 12 young scientists battled it out at the Groninger Forum for two places in the national final of FameLab , the international competition for young scientists who want to explain their work to the general public. The entrants went to a lot of trouble to convey their message, bringing onstage props such as small tables, wine bottles, ping pong balls and clown noses.

Like the entrants, who came from five different countries, different branches of science were represented too. A whole array of topics was discussed ranging from liver disease to entrophy, from organic chemistry to eye movement measurement and from PET scans to molecular mechanisms of sight.

The jury of three professors from the UMCG and the University of Groningen had the difficult task of choosing two winners from the assorted presentations. The coveted places in the national final in Utrecht on 22 April (and the accompanying two-day masterclass at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in Amsterdam) finally went to Ludo Cornelissen and Timothy Sondej. Cornelissen, a PhD student at the department of Physics of Nanodevices in the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials, spoke about his research into spin waves in magnetic fields – something that will make better and faster computers in the future. Sondej, a Master’s student of Cognitive Neuroscience, explained how free will does exist.

Groningen now has two good candidates to send to the national final, and of course the jury hopes that one of them will go on to represent the Netherlands at the real FameLab final at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the United Kingdom.

Entrants in the Groningen qualifying round | Photo Science LinX
Entrants in the Groningen qualifying round | Photo Science LinX
Last modified:15 February 2018 1.47 p.m.
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