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Robin Ince Leads London's Biggest Science Pub Quiz

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By M@ Last edited 21 months ago
Robin Ince Leads London's Biggest Science Pub Quiz

Which is the odd one out? Oxygen, chlorine, helium, Brian May?*

Science quizzes don't have to be boring or difficult. Especially when they're hosted by comedian Robin Ince. His questions might be a wee bit trickier than our ones, but they're guaranteed to be fun and enlightening.

"It doesn't matter if you get things wrong," Ince reassures us. "We're just happy if we incite people to dust off the telescope or go buy a physics book". The comedian is a well known agitator of the curiosity muscle. His popular science show The Infinite Monkey Cage, co-hosted by Brian Cox, just completed its twelfth series. According to our back-of-the-labcoat calculation, the 68 episodes on Radio 4 make it almost 0.4% as successful as The Archers.

"I'm forever trying to work out different ways to communicate with people," he tells us. "I've always liked the pub quiz format. It's another way of approaching things, another way to put on a totally ridiculous event."

This event is a spin-off from his Cosmic Genome website. It will see teams of up to six people (you could be among them) compete at Holborn's Conway Hall on 30 September. "I love the Conway Hall," says Ince. "You can still find a few pamphlets lying around from Bertrand Russell. It's a great Humanist venue."

This will be no ordinary pub quiz, and not just because it lacks a pub. Expect a varied programme of stand-up comedy, live experiments, film clips and brain-racking trivia. You might even get to see a "little felt puppet that represents Brian Cox's sense of wonder at the universe," although that might be reserved for future shows. Ince compares this swirling variety to a scientific version of the gameshow 3-2-1, before conceding that we're probably not old enough to remember that.

Ince might be the main anchorman and quizmaster, but he's also assembled an impressive line-up of guests for the show. Think Marvel's Avengers, but with super powers that include the ability to talk engagingly about slime moulds, or explain why a dorsal root ganglion is nothing to be scared of. Here they are, in all their screengrabbed glory:

The quiz will come as some consolation to fans of Ince's annual jamboree Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People. The secular variety show won't be returning this year, thanks to some asbestos problems at the usual Bloomsbury venue. However, he will be on stage with Brian Cox at Hammersmith Apollo in December, for a 'Christmas Compendium of Reason'. Winners of the quiz will get premium tickets for that show.

Finally, we ask Robin for help with that most difficult of pub quiz tasks: thinking up a witty team name. "We're bound to get a few Einstein-a-go-gos," he predicts. "I'm just hoping no one gives their name as the full Drake Equation, as that'll slow us down when we read the scores between rounds."

Our money's on 'Felt Cox, Then Fact Me Slowly'.

Cosmic Genome Quizzicles takes place at Conway Hall, Holborn on 30 September. Tickets are from £12 plus booking fee.

*The answer is, of course, helium. All the others form strong bonds with Mercury.

Last Updated 24 September 2015