But it’s not anything sleek or deeply polished that makes the Sleek Geeks shine. Quite the opposite, it’s the fact that they’re so endearingly human; they come across as just the sort of people you’d love to have a chat with around the dinner table about the latest cool things in science and technology. Their show is backed by a Powerpoint presentation, not a polished one at that, and some photos and videos to add colour. They meander through a range of current topics from 3D printing to coding and big data with exactly the sort of somewhat stretched segues that tend to be arrived at after a couple of glasses of wine. Not everything they said was completely accurate or correct. But put it all together and you came away feeling like you’d had a deeply entertaining and interesting conversation with a couple of old friends.
The bit of the show I liked best was when they analysed how many ENIAC computers it would take to create a device with the power of an iPhone. The results were one of the clearest and best descriptions of exactly how far we have come in less than a century. The cost would be greater than the entire World economy for a year, you would need enough materials to build 2500 aircraft carriers, and it would require the entire output of the World’s largest nuclear power station to power it for a day. That’s simply awe-inspiring when you compare it to what we all carry in our pockets only 70 years later.
And of course one of the features of that computer in our pockets is a camera. The Sleek Geeks delved into the history of the selfie – a word first used on a bulletin board run by no other than Karl Kruszelnicki – and then invited the first person to use it to join them on stage. Then, for Adam Spencer’s 10,000th Tweet he took a selfie of himself posing with the man who first used the word selfie against a backdrop of 2000 of us taking selfies. Gotta rate that as a geeky end to an absolutely fabulous show.
By the way, the other very memorable part of the show for me wasn’t really in the show itself but deserves to be repeated. It was the words of Sydney University Vice Chancellor Michael Spence who finished his, refreshingly short, introduction by saying: “Science matters. And when you leave here tonight, tell a politician that.”
If the Sleek Geeks reminded us of nothing else it was that science not only matters, it can be entertaining too.
Image: Adam Spencer (the selfie to end all selfies)