⦁ Sir George Caley, landowner and gentleman scientist, first Chairman of Britain’s first Polytechnic which opened in 1838 at 309 Regent Street.

⦁ The name Polytechnic was chosen by Sir George Caley to reflect the growing movement in scientific exhibition and education across Europe.

⦁ The Royal Polytechnic Institution became the world centre for spectacular magic lantern shows with Henry Landon Childe, who pioneered the use of limelight rather than oil.

⦁ The Great Hall was described as a place of “abominable smells and of the odd explosion” as demonstrations of new technologies were made to the public.

⦁ When the Olympic Games came to London in 1908, the Poly clubs organized the opening and closing ceremonies.

⦁ For more see: and

I think it was late 1969 that I joined the tiny research group led by Professor T. Burlin, in the Physics Department of the Polytechnic of Central London(PCL). We worked on the 6th floor of 309, Regent Street.

In the Physics Department, the last event before the Christmas Holidays, was always ‘The Students’ Revue’ in which the braver students would present short sketches based on their lecturers’ idiosyncracies. Most were exceedingly good and funny sketches and most of the staff were prepared to turn up and take part in the merriment.

This is by way of an introduction to the 27th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, 2017, for those of you who haven’t come across it yet or are still weary of Scientists.

In almost every respect this Harvard University event is not similar to PCL events. The Harvard events are huge, they obviously have a decent budget and it’s the paid staff poking fun at the establishment. At the PCL, the students’ revues were tiny, student led and financed -and if I remember correctly- an all standing event.

The common element though, is the acknowledgement that whichever level of science you’re going to be involved in, you need imagination and a well-developed sense of irony to get you through all those meticulously-rehearsed demonstrations that always fail at the live event.

Watch and enjoy.

Ig Nobel Prize 2017

I went looking for an explanation of Dunning-Krueger effect and found this brilliant video

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