2 comments on “Science Media: The Next Generation

  1. Look, I’ll have you know that my interests in Bell Ringing are purely nurture– genes have nothing to do with it!

    Anyway… On point 3, I’d interpret this in a slightly different way. All your examples seem to be from Physics, and this seems no surprise. Do you have any idea _why_ physics seems to attract such attention in the public imagination? As you say, fundamental physics is exceedingly abstract, and very remote from our everyday lives (and like you, Andrew’s reply seems very weak here). Lots of exciting things happen in (Bio)Chemistry, or Material Science or whatever, and these seem not to inspire the same excitement (I mean, the Today programme got excessively excited over the LHC!)

    Maybe there’s a historical Gee-Whizz-Bang aspect to “big physics” (linked the the space race, and nuclear power etc.) while, say, Food Science is very commercial (and, actually, Coke probably doesn’t want you to know about the chemistry which goes into making Coke Zero).

    Point 1 is interesting– I’ll stop occasionally trying to get you interested in the politics of academic publishing…

  2. I should clarify: as a mathematician and vaguely politically aware human being, I am certainly *interested* in the politics of science and academia (e.g how could I not be interested in this?) What I meant to say is that I have no desire (or confidence in my own ability) to write about such matters professionally. On the blog, or in the pub, sure!

    Yes, it’s a good question about physics. I guess partly there’s a perfect combination here: wild, exciting theories with a low entry barrier. You can convey some central ideas in very words: “new particle”, for example. In fact “dark matter” more or less conveys itself. People can get these ideas almost instantly, and then you can pick it up from there.

    In almost all other areas of science, you need to invest much more time in first *understanding the question* before you can begin to discuss the answer.

    And – you’re right – seriously big bits of machinery like CERN are just inherently exciting. After all they *must* be doing something extraordinarily important, while test-tube-science looks basically boring.

    This is a topic I’d definitely like to revisit!

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