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Pairs of swing-dancing electrons do the Lindy Hop in “Superconductivity: The Musical,” the winning video for this year’s geektastic Dance Your PhD contest. Pramodh Yapa, a graduate student at the University of Alberta, Canada, beat out roughly 50 other entries for the interpretive dance based on his master’s thesis, “Non-Local Electrodynamics of Superconducting Wires: Implications for Flux Noise and Inductance.”
The Dance Your PhD contest was established in 2008 by science journalist John Bohannon, and is sponsored by Science magazine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Bohannon told Slate in 2011 that he came up with the idea while trying to figure out how to get a group of stressed-out PhD students in the middle of defending their theses to let off a little steam. So he put together a dance party at Austria’s Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, including a contest for whichever candidate could best explain their thesis topics with interpretive dance.
Science kicked in a free one-year subscription as a reward. It was such a hit, Bohannon started getting emails asking when the next such contest would be. And Dance Your PhD has continued ever since. There are four broad categories: physics, chemistry, biology, and social science, with a fairly liberal interpretation of what topics fall under each.