“Two scientists walk into a bar,” I tell Nobel Laureate Sir Andre Geim. “One says, I’ll have a glass of H2O. The other one says, I’ll have a glass of H2O too. The barman hands over the drinks. They knock them back. The second scientist keels over and dies.”
The father of graphene meets my icebreaker with a bemused face and a raised eyebrow. “Ah,” he says, after a long pause during which I feel my toes start to curl. “It’s a chemistry joke. Not a physics joke, but yeah… Very good.” I’d tried out my favourite hydrogen peroxide gag because Sir Andre Geim is notorious for his sense of humour. This is, after all, a scientist who named his hamster, H.A.M.S. ter Tisha, as co-author in one of his papers and who won an Ig Nobel prize for making a frog fly.