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On Sat 23 March, four members of the Department of Oncology set out bars of chocolate on a table in the Market Square in Abingdon. Our aim? To introduce passers-by to some key concepts in radiotherapy.

The relationship between chocolate and radiotherapy may not be completely clear.

If you want to talk to people about science the first thing you have to do is persuade them to stop and talk.  It turns out that a large pile of chocolate bars is good for making people want to talk to you!

There was no free chocolate for our visitors.  Instead they were challenged to match the chocolate with an array of CT scans.  The Maltesers are easy enough, but could you tell a Mars Bar from a Wispa just from the texture of their CT scan?  Not easy as it turns out.

Our presence in Abingdon was not random.  Abingdon is home to the annual ATOM festival held this year from 16-27 March. One of the centrepiece events for the Festival is a Science Market laid out across the Market Square.

Once our visitors had identified all the chocolate they were hooked. We were then able to challenge them to identify which radiotherapy dose plan would best treat a computer mouse.  They were able to quickly see that some plans would lead to far more side-effects than others.

A big ‘Thank you!’ to everyone who stopped to engage with us.  We had a great day.