Ricardo Fernandes wins Max Planck Day ‘Science Slam!’

Congratulations to Ricardo Fernandes from the Department of Archaeology for being the first member of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History to win the Max Planck Day ‘Science Slam!’ hosted at Max Planck headquarters in Munich on Friday the 14th of September.

Science slams are events where scientists present their scientific research to a non-expert audience. Emphasis is placed on conveying one’s research to a diverse audience in an entertaining way. Participation in these events is particularly prestigious in Europe and are a great opportunity for researchers to demonstrate their science communication skills.

On the 14th of September, the Max Planck Society celebrated three anniversaries: the 160th anniversary of its namesake Max Planck, the 100th anniversary of the receipt of a Novel Prize in Physics by Max Planck, and the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Max Planck Society. Activities were arranged across Germany, including a ‘Science slam’ at the headquarters in Munich.

Ricardo Fernandes took part alongside diverse, leading scientists, including astrophysicists, chemical ecologists, mathematicians, and linguists, from across the Max Planck Society. He gave a talk  titled ‘Fish makes you older’ which examined how radiocarbon dating can produce anomalous results in individuals eating considerable amounts of freshwater or marine fish.

During his presentation Ricardo also explained how he employs in his research stable isotopes, which he calls ‘happy’ isotopes while by contrast radiocarbon is ‘unhappy’, to reconstruct the diets of past individuals. These analyses were used by him to contribute to the secure identification of the remains of Queen Editha wife of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto the Great.

Not only was the talk a fantastic display of how archaeological science methods can be brought to the public but, when put to an audience vote, Ricardo was judged to have given the best and most popular presentation of the evening. Ricardo has won previous prizes for giving these presentations across Germany and in 2016 he even became the northern Germany champion at Hamburg.

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