Philip was voted the winner of the Terbium Zone in March 2015. Here he writes about using his £500 prize money on developing the script and artwork for a nanotechnology-themed graphic novel, “Open Day”.
If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply
I initially said that I would spend the money as a contribution towards the development of a video game. Unfortunately, the games developer with whom I had initially scoped the game could no longer commit to the project (the video game project has instead been kick-started via a company in Bristol). The prize money was instead spent on developing the script and artwork for a nanotechnology-themed graphic novel, “Open Day”.
Written by Shey Hargreaves with art by Charli Vince, Open Day is a “warm-‐hearted, funny, and bittersweet tale of ambition and overcoming the odds as much as it is an exploration of atomic manipulation and nanoparticles.” The novel is the result of a collaboration between Hargreaves, Vince, the Nanoscience Group at the University of Nottingham, and Professor Brigitte Nerlich (sociologist and emeritus professor at the University of Nottingham).
In addition to the funding from “I’m A Scientist”, “Open Day” is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council through a grant award, “Mechanochemistry at the Single Bond Limit: Towards Deterministic Epitaxy”. The entire proposal is available here. The funding was used to support visits of Charli Vince and Shey Hargreaves to the School of Physics and Astronomy, and for travel funding associated with the “Nottingham Does Comics” event.
It’s too soon to say how many people the project has reached but “Open Day” will be published later this year and we would hope that the novel will have broad appeal. We will update with sales figures (and social media impact) when the novel has been published.
Above: where the story is set
Since winning the prize money, I have been heavily involved in outreach and public engagement both online (e.g. the Sixty Symbols, Numberphile, and Computerphile YouTube channels) and offline (“Pint of Science“, “Skeptics In The Pub“, “Café Scientifique“, “Science In The Park“, “Spring Into Science“). I have also written a popsci book on the deep and fundamental links between quantum physics and heavy metal, to be published by BenBella later this year.