James Dingley explores frontier of science

James Dingley SM ’23 has explored the depths of a nuclear missile silo, withstood the heat of a roaring copper smelter, and braved the ire of Americans (Dingley is Australian) by explaining that American cheese isn’t actually cheese—all in the name of science.

It’s not his job—but he’s hoping it might be someday. Dingley is the host of Atomic Frontier, an award-winning science and engineering show he produces himself (with a little free help from friends and family). The show, which debuted on YouTube in 2015, has 230,000 subscribers and his videos have millions of views.

Dingley is also a PhD student in space systems engineering at MIT—a dream come true for someone who once feared he would never be able to advance in the field. “I’m very dyslexic. I can’t read well, and my writing is atrocious,” he says. As a child, he questioned how he could succeed in science and engineering if he couldn’t write up research results. Then, his seventh-grade teacher suggested he tackle a science project by making a video.

James Dingley wears a protective orange suit, hard hat, and breathing apparatus in an industrial setting. He is gesturing toward a person in the background who is dressed in silver protective gear and is leaning toward a bright orange furnace. Sparks can be seen on the floor.
“It was a terrible video, but I had so much fun doing it that I just kept making videos for classes, and then for myself,” Dingley says. Friends liked his work and encouraged him to post his videos to YouTube.