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Marty Jopson - Four Way Interview

Marty Jopson has a PhD in cell biology and builds science props, but he is best known for his regular appearances as the resident scientist on the BBC's The One Show. He does live stage performances around the UK, which involve naked flames and end in a loud bang. His latest book is The Science of Food.

Why Science:

Because it’s fun and I get a huge buzz finding out new things and then passing that knowledge on to other people. As a science communicator, it’s my job to talk to people about science on the telly, on stage and in books, so I’ve spent a lot of time considering why science is important, not just to me but to everyone. I could harp on about how science and technology have shaped our world, how medicine keeps us alive or how engineers have built everything. I could spend my time trying to communicate the science behind the deeper secrets of the mind or the darkest recesses of the universe. But in the end the audience I am interested in is the audience that doesn’t know they are interested in science. The key for me in my work is to share my enthusiasm for science. So, why science? Because it's fun.

Why this book?

Lots of reasons, but it really sprang from the first book I wrote, The Science of Everyday Life. In that I talked about quite a number of food-related science nuggets and I realised that I had so much more I wanted to say on the subject. I have spent a lot of time working on TV programmes about processed food and became very familiar with the food technologist’s subtle science. On top of that, I used to be a plant scientist and that is where some really exciting science is going on right now, but you don’t hear about it often. Lastly, I do love to cook and it was a way to marry two of my great passions - science and food. 

What’s next?

Immediately on the horizon I have a couple of new science stage shows to work on. I spend a lot of my time touring the UK going to science festivals and schools performing science shows. My shows are full of props and demonstrations and it takes a considerable while to develop each show. Lurking in my brain is a show to go with the Science of Food book, but also one on microscopy. After that, I would love to write something specifically aimed at kids and come the New Year, the BBC will be knocking on my door wanting to film again. 

What’s exciting you at the moment?

So many things! In the workshop, I just bought myself a new table saw and I'm about half way through refurbishing my massive Van de Graaf generator. On the stage show front I’m hoping to get my hands on some swanky microscopes soon for my new show, and when I say swanky - woo hoo - these are the bee's knees, but I can’t say any more right now. At home my daughter just started GCSEs this year and it turns out that for English Literature she’s doing two of my favourite books (Merchant of Venice and Lord of the Flies). I can’t wait to hear how she tackles them. Then there is the fountain pen that a friend just gave me. I’m rediscovering the joy of writing things on paper with ink. Oh and it’s my birthday in a few days and a bunch of my friends are joining me for a curry. All this excitement, I may need a lie down.


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