1 Supertasters


1 Supertasters
An extraordinary collection of sensory perception demos
I create the headline shows for Big Bang Fair at the NEC (a vast STEM fair that attracts around
70,000 people), and it’s a huge privilege to be involved. The audiences in the headline auditorium
are vast (10,000 watched my show over 4 days), the physical scale of it allows you to do some
seriously dangerous stuff, and Engineering UK are brilliantly forward-thinking about the blend of
education and entertainment I’m allowed to play with. By which I mean they allow me to indulge
my most ridiculously ambitious ideas!
One of the shows I created was Supertasters, all based on sensory perception, and it worked really well is that it
involved demos that everyone can join in with. We use our sensory perception every waking second, and exploring
it allows you to play with a multidisciplinary blend of biology, physics and chemistry.
I know that not everyone will have the space or resources to create a similar thing, but here are a few demos from
the show that you could try:
Human earthquake (Touch)
Set up a seismometer http://www.iris.edu/hq/files/publications/brochures_onepagers/doc/OnePager7.pdf and
get as many people as you can (I used 1,500) to all jump into the air at the same time, to see what sort of reading
you can get from it. You could try different approaches – getting everyone to dance in unison, Run around the
room together. Obviously this will be dependent on how well sprung your floor is!
Use a decibelometer to measure how loud – or how quiet – your audience can be. Timstar stocks lots of different
meters – including multimeters that can be used for several functions, but if accuracy isn’t an issue there are
also free decibelometer apps for most phones. You can use this as a touchpoint to explain that hearing
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearing is actually a hypersensitivity to touch using mechanoreceptors in the inner
ear mechanism.
Stefan Gates
(As seen on the BBC)
©Crossplatform TV Ltd.
An extraordinary collection of sensory perception demos
Experiment with dyeing tongues blue and inspecting papillae, then testing your audience for PTC strip sensibility
[link to demo guide to Supertaster testing]. Explain taste and our perception of it http://www.flavourjournal.com/
series/the_science_of_taste and then you can invent some brand new flavor combinations, too. Some of which
may be delicious, but most of which will probably be gopping. Either way, I think mankind benefits!
Go on! Build yourself a nice fat vortex cannon and fire flavor components at your audience. Then you can explain
the fluid mechanics of torroidal vortices and deconstruct a bunch of the flavor volatiles in your favourite foods at
the same time! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olfaction
Stefan Gates
(As seen on the BBC)
©Crossplatform TV Ltd.

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