A joint Fermilab/SLAC publication

A helium atom walks into a bar. . .

07/21/09

Brian Malow is living proof that a science comedian can actually invoke laughs from his audience instead of groans (see his essay in last month's symmetry ).

Malow also stays on top of current physics issues, such as the growing concern about a worldwide helium shortage.  While researching a feature for the current issue of symmetry on the limited supply of helium on Earth and how a helium shortage would affect high-energy physics I came across a five-minute talk Malow gave on the subject.

As part of O'Reilly Media's Ignite Show, a program with the slogan "Enlighten us, but make it quick," Malow accepted the challenge to deliver a sharp, short, and witty talk on the world's dwindling helium supply in front of a live audience.

The Ignite concept allows each presenter exactly five minutes and 20 slides to talk about some subject of "geek culture." The slides are set to change every 15 seconds, whether a speaker is ready or not. This pushes some speakers to the edge of a furious babble to keep within the time limit. See how Malow is handling the pressure in his helium presentation.

If only more physics lectures were as fun as this one.

Check out other Ignite geek talks such as "Boiling Water in 5 Steps (Using a Nuclear Reactor),"  "Building a Multiperson Pogo Stick," and the "Guide to Geek Dating." They are all available on the Ignite Web site, and a new talk is added every week.

An earlier symmetry blog by David Harris features more information on Malow and video clips of Malow in action.

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