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Watch RNA sequencing and astronomy expressed as dance

Every year, Science magazine challenges PhD students to explain the topic of their thesis in the form of dance. This year's finalists are in.

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Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET

Why would you want to write a PhD abstract when you could make it truly abstract -- through the medium of interpretive dance? For the seventh year running, Science magazine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have challenged PhD students to do just that -- with the finest dance taking home $500 and a trip to Stanford University, California for a screening of the PhD dance.

This year, 21 entries were received, which the judges have boiled down to 12 finalists: three each in the fields of chemistry, physics, biology and social sciences. Each category also has a $500 prize for the best dance -- meaning the winning dance takes home a total of $1,000.

"The previous winners of the contest scored each of them on their scientific and artistic merits, and these 12 finalists made the cut," Science wrote. "Now it's a dance-off between the sciences, including a tango based on robot collision avoidance, an acrobatic spectacle based on soil ecology, and, in one of the most meta PhD dances ever, a hip-hop dance about the anthropology of hip-hop."

Other dances include Saioa Alvarez, whose thesis is on the use of high pressure homogenisation in order to reduce fat in emulsions such as mayonnaise; Hans Rinderknecht's dance (and thesis) about atomic behaviour during fusion; Ina Kirmes, who is studying the scarification of the genome caused by heart attack; and David Manzano Cosano's dance exploring the role science played in the European colonisation of the Pacific.

The 12 dances are currently before a judging panel, to be announced on November 3. The public, however, can also vote for their favourite by hitting up the Science magazine announcement.