Material World, the BBC Radio 4 science programme, has launched a challenge to the find the amateur scientist with the most interesting idea – and the cartoonist William Rudling is in the running.
William, a Procartoonists.org member, is one of four finalists in the So You Want to be a Scientist? challenge.
The cartoonist, 69, from Leeds, believes that having studied faces as a caricaturist for many years, he can tell what people look like from hearing their voices.
He told us the idea behind his experiment: “My discovery came from caricature events – finding that two people with similar features often have a similar pitch of voice. This has nothing to do with dialect or how you shape your mouth, it’s something inherent. Dame Judi Dench and Samantha Bond [below] are a good example.
“We are designing a website for the experiment and asking people to match voice and faces. The photographs and recordings will be provided by Leeds University students and personnel. I am putting the images I’ve drawn to illustrate my theory on a Facebook page.”
William, who has always had an interest in science, particularly the environment and astronomy, was keen to get involved when he heard about the challenge.
“All four finalists will have a mentor, a scientist, who will advise and organise a suitable platform on which the experiment will take place. The mentor is a partner in the whole experience.”
The other finalists are Dara Djavan Khoshdel, who wants to find out if the price of art correlates to our emotional response to it; Val Watham, who is investigating whether horizontal or vertical stripes are more flattering to wear; and Izzy Thomlinson who wants to know how sounds that annoy us change with age.
The amateur scientists will present their results at Cheltenham Science Festival in June, when the judges will choose a winner.