'The show is a bit naughty, makes people laugh and is memorable'

October 8, 2004

After a day in the university lecture theatre, Chris Smith takes to the airwaves as the Naked Scientist.

By day, Chris Smith is a clinical lecturer and specialist registrar in virology at Cambridge University. But every Sunday night, he becomes the Naked Scientist, broadcasting on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

Dr Smith, who is not yet 30, recently completed his PhD. He is a veritable vacuum cleaner of scientific, technological or medical facts.

And he is on a mission to share his passion. "Many science communication projects end up preaching to the converted," he says. "The best place to look is in the most unusual places."

In 2002, he started to write a monthly column answering science and medical questions for the cult magazine Bizarre . Although the column attracted many reader letters, the magazine discontinued it.

He turned his attention to local radio, which he realised did not have much scientific content. He came up with a show inviting prominent scientists to discuss topical issues, such as genetic modification, in a phone-in for Cambridge Red radio station.

Dr Smith says. "People phone up and ask whatever questions came into their heads to the top minds in the country. It's a bit naughty, makes people laugh and is memorable."

Each time the show came on, the radio station doubled its audience. A second series was commissioned, and the show was picked up by the BBC.

Dr Smith's favourite question so far is: "How many organs can I donate and still remain alive?" The answer is six - a kidney, a lung, a segment of liver, some skin, some bone marrow and a cornea.

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