To the annual Max Perutz Science Writing awards, given each year to young researchers funded by the Medical Research Council for short, accessible essays communicating their research in a compelling fashion. A crowd of biomedical scientists young and old, more used to functional labs and crowded corridors, found themselves acting the part of beautiful people in the 40th floor bar that caps The Gherkin, one of the City of London’s most startling landmarks.
The prizes are named after Perutz because he communicated his own enthusiasm about science with great facility. To illustrate this, Perutz’s son Robin read from his recently published letters to friends and family: even as a 20 year old student, he was marvelling to a girlfriend about the latest findings in atomic physics. The lure of a decent cash prize (and a masterclass in writing with the poet Lavinia Greenlaw and the journalist Alok Jha) produced 80 entries. It’s heartening that so many PhD students thought it worth raising their heads from the bench for long enough to think about why the rest of the world should care about what they are doing.