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Glasgow 2001 Monday, 3 September, 2001, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Physicist honoured for pub cabarets
Dr Zbig Sobiesierski conducts an experiment watched by onlookers in a pub BBC
Dr Sobiesierski's apparatus includes pints of lager
A Cardiff physicist who has broken the mould by taking science into pubs is to be praised for popularising physics.

Dr Zbig Sobiesierski has taken his lectures and experiments out of his lecture rooms and into local watering holes, supermarkets and shopping precincts, in an effort to make physics more fun.


Instead of an electrostatic generator, I use a pint of lager

Dr Zbig Sobiesierski
He will be honoured by his peers from the Institute of Physics at the British Association Science Festival 2001 in Glasgow on Tuesday.

Dr Sobiesierski, who takes science "cabarets" to the unlikely locations, is one of five people to receive the award for using novel methods to make people more aware of physics.

His impromptu shows draw attention from pub-goers and shopping crowds in Cardiff, the Valleys and Bristol.

Science tools

But the lecturer - the first person in Wales to win the award - maintains there is a certain methodology in his extra-curricular showcase.

"Rather than using equipment from the laboratory such as an electrostatic generator, what I have is a pint glass, matches, ashtrays and some lager," he said.

Pub-goer watching Dr Sobiesierski's demonstrations  BBC
Pub-goers watch Dr Sobiesierski's demonstrations
"For example, I will show punters about gravity by pouring some of the drink into an ashtray with coins stacked up, placing a glass over it and letting a flame inside suck the lager up into the glass - the air has to escape somewhere.

"I might even use the hangover cure some of us may need the following morning."

The Institute of Physics is the umbrella body for physics professionals and will present the award to Dr Sobiesierski at the UK's annual festival of science organised by the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

Away from the limelight, the doctor whips up a degree of interest among the man in the street - or public house.

Class techniques

"People are surprised by how much science they know," he said. "Physics is hard, but everyone knows more than they realise.

"It is not cool to be good at science, but this makes understanding a lot easier."

Dr Sobiesierski's techniques have even filtered back from the bar to the classroom.

He said he used to turn up at classes with a bottle of wine, lemonade and other tools to conduct some entirely scientific experiments.

"When I do my cabarets in Bristol, the people are naturally curious," he said. "In Wales, people are much more reticent to watch.

"I show them something that relates to their everyday lives."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales's Louise Elliot
"He regularly performs his science cabarets at bars and supermarkets"
See also:

01 May 01 | Entertainment
31 Oct 00 | Wales
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