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Last Updated: Friday, 4 May 2007, 15:08 GMT 16:08 UK
Null Hypothesis a web hit
By Helen Soteriou

Dr Andrew Impey (left) and Dr Mark Steer
Null Hypothesis casts a wry eye over the world of science
In a pokey little room in the depths of Bristol University, three bright young academics work 14-hour days and talk passionately about their ideas.

But these are no ordinary academics and this is no ordinary office.

Disillusioned with the prospect of spending their lives in dusty laboratories, writing paper after paper for high-brow journals, they decided to create their own publication.

Dr Andrew Impey, Dr Mark Steer and Dr David Hall founded The Null Hypothesis - The Journal of Unlikely Science.

Talent 'showcase'

It is refreshingly simple, unique, and the secret lies in its inclusivity - a worldwide community sharing light-hearted science-related stories.

Null Hypothesis (Null)
One up for the knowledge economy
"It is a chance for scientists to talk about science, and a chance for up-and-coming journalists to get a bit of experience and showcase their talents," said Dr Mark Steer.

Dr Steer and Dr Impey also hope the website will go some way to create a revival of interest in science.

"If you highlight the lighter side of science, then maybe you will draw people back into science," explained Dr Impey.

"The government has shown that uptake for science in school kids is falling. The CBI said that less that 5% of people had a clear understanding of science," Dr Steer added.

Truth and spoof

The Null Hypothesis began life as a magazine in 2004 and was an overnight success. Copies were sold in some of the UK's leading bookshops, and subscriptions were taken in America, Australia, and Sweden.

Armed with a number of prestigious business awards, the three men soon decided to re-launch their print version exclusively online.

Dr Mark Steer (left), Dr David Hall (second to left) and Dr Andrew Impey (right)
The scientists won an award for their alternative approach
The site went live last August and currently receives upwards of 60,000 hits per month. There are four main features, including the news section which is updated daily and the spoof section, in which most of the information is made up.

Around 60% of the content is provided by contributors.

Research is still an important part of their day-to-day working lives, although worlds away from the doctoral research they used to undertake.

Recent projects involved investigating the dunk-ability of biscuits and flipping toast to see whether it lands buttered side down.

These charming entrepreneurs talk excitedly about the future of the site.

Plans include building an inventor forum and developing their online shop, which currently stocks wacky items such as banana guards, flying alarm clocks, and global warming mugs.

They also talk about the importance of awareness.

"We just need people to know we're out there," says Dr Impey. "The people who know we're out there love it, but it's getting that national exposure, letting people know it's there."


SEE ALSO
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06 Oct 06 |  Science/Nature
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