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French competition tests scientific concision

image copyrightAFP
image captionAlexandre Artaud wowed the jury with a lucid disquisition on superconducting rhenium

French PhD students have taken part in a challenge to summarise their research in thee minutes designed to test their concision and eloquence.

The competition, held in Nancy, was entitled "My thesis in three minutes".

One of the 27 finalists compared a molecule to a "club bouncer in reverse" who lets people in but not out.

The winner used a metaphor about love to explain research on "low-temperature tunnelling spectroscopy of a graphene on superconducting rhenium".

PhD student Alexandre Artaud said electrons faced a choice between pairing up thanks to "superconductivity which allows love between two particles", or graphene, which enhances performance but at a cost.

He compared this to doctoral students having to choose between love and research, AFP news agency reports.

"I don't want to choose. I want doctoral students in love - and electrons that are both paired up and performing," he explained.

"My thesis in three minutes" was co-sponsored by the National Centre of Scientific Research (CNRS) - France's main research body.

Most of the finalists were women. The jury was composed of academics unfamiliar with the subjects covered.

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