科学家们也疯狂 First Person: John Bohannon
The idea that scientists could dance their PhD started as a drunken party stunt about five years ago. I was living in Vienna and working as a contributor to Science magazine at the time.
I helped organize a big party with some scientist friends and, to make the party more interesting, decided to do a dance contest. I read the title out of each guest’s thesis – titles that were mostly obscure and indecipherable except to specialists in the field – and then the contestants danced.
I made a video of the evening and put it online, and it wasn’t long before I started getting emails from scientists all over the world asking me when the next contest was. I put the idea to my editor at Science, suggesting that the magazine could put up some prize money and do an online contest. My editor agreed and I put an advertisement in Science. Videos arrived from all over the world. Today, we’re in the fifth year of the contest and the quality keeps getting better and better.
我把当晚的比赛录了下来，并将其上传到网上，不久我就开始收到全球各地科学家的电邮，问我下一 次比赛会在什么时候。我把这个想法告诉了我在《科学》杂志的编辑，暗示该杂志可以设置一些奖金，举办一次在线比赛。我的编辑同意了，于是我在《科学》杂志 上刊登了一则广告。我收到了来自全球各地的视频。现在，这一赛事已经举办到第五届了，水准也变得越来越高。
This year’s winner studies hip replacement. He works with titanium and lasers and, if you read his research, it’s very abstract. He also didn’t have a video camera. So he took thousands of photographs of himself, his sister and his girlfriend doing the dance. He strung the pictures together to make stop-motion animation. At one point he was flying off the ground. He must have had to jump-click-jump-click. The whole thing has a brilliant sense of humour and an epic feeling but, most important, by the end you totally understand what his PhD is about. For a film to succeed, the audience needs to understand the concepts as well as be entertained.
今年的获奖者研究的是髋关节置换。他的工作都是与钛和激光打交道，如果你读读他的研究，你会发 现它们非常抽象。此外，他没有摄像机。因此，他把自己、他的妹妹和女友跳舞的场面拍成数千张照片。他将这些照片串在一起，制成定格动画。在某一个点上，他 正飞离地面。他必须不停的“跳、按快门、跳、按快门”。整个作品带有极强的幽默感，而且有着史诗般的感觉，但最为重要的是，最后，你完全理解了他的博士学 位所研究的内容。一部电影要成功，观众既需要理解片中的概念，还需要从中得到娱乐。
Last year the winner was a laboratory of Canadians. They did Scottish highland dancing to illustrate a complex but important breakthrough in molecular biology. It’s very funny but also manages to explain the science. The video is now being used at Harvard in the introductory molecular biology class.
Of course, not all the films have humour. Some just fail but even in failure they can have a charm. One of my favourites is the bee guy. It’s one of the best dances I have ever seen – while at the same time being an awful dance. The scientist studies bees and his setting is the grassy field with beehives where he works. The man emerges from a hive dressed as a bee and earnestly begins mimicking bee behaviour. You can’t help but be moved. I’d like to create an alternative prize to recognise dancers like him.
当然，并非所有的视频都幽默。一些可能没能入围，但虽然失败了，它们也有动人之处。我最喜欢的 参赛选手之一是一位研究蜜蜂的科学家。这是我看过的最棒的舞蹈之一——同时也是一项糟糕的舞蹈表演。这位科学家研究蜜蜂，他的背景是一片草地，放置着很多 蜂箱，他就在那里工作。他打扮成一只蜜蜂的样子从一个蜂箱中出现，然后开始认真地模仿蜜蜂的动作。你不能不为此感动。我希望设立一个另类奖项，以表彰他这 样的舞者。
The competition has become really competitive. Even though the grand prize is only $1,000 and a free trip to Brussels, I think one of the attractions for scientists is that they are having their work recognised by one of the top scientific journals in the world. Although I can say confidently that winning the competition offers no advantage for scientists trying to publish their work in Science.
One of the reasons the competition works is that it operates a very weird, specific constraint so that only certain people can take part. Each person only has one option: to appear in his or her own PhD research dance. It’s like a secret society, but I think it appeals to scientists because their lives are hard work. Most of them are poor and obscure but with this competition, they can exhibit themselves. This whole contest is an experiment for outgoing, exhibitionist scientists. It gives them a platform.
比赛得以进行的原因之一在于，比赛的限制条件非常奇怪而且明确，这样只有某些人可以参加。每个 人只有一种选择：在他或她自己的博士研究舞蹈中出现。这像是一个秘密结社，但我认为，它之所以会吸引科学家，是因为他们的生活就是努力地工作。多数人贫穷 且默默无闻，但通过这场比赛，他们可以展示自己。整个比赛是那些乐观而且有表现欲的科学家的一次尝试。这为他们提供了一个平台。
Of course, I have a day job too. I’m also a correspondent for Science. These days I cover war for the news section. I’ve been focusing on the data side of war and its most controversial aspect: how you count the dead. So I guess the dance competition gives my working life a little balance.