communicating science – an example of good practice

The following is from the Young Australian Skeptics website – I’ve copied the whole post across because it’s a brief one (& I’ve added links to book reviews):

We probably have all encountered scientifically ignorant people, for some people knowing the complexities of the universe is simply not interesting. This ignorance is generally spawned within the Medias interpretation of science and scientists; however a scientist known as Len Fisher is doing something about this by communicating science to the general community. Earlier in Brisbane  this year (as part of the BrisScience and BWF Festival) he held a seminar on how science should be communicated to the public. Len Fisher is best known for his ignoble prize for physics; it related to the topic why biscuits go soggy when you dip them in your tea.

He was contacted by a biscuit company to conduct this research, much to the derision of his colleagues; however his aim was to show to the media how real scientists think about everyday problems. He made it very clear to the reporters that the research was not really “life or death” serious research but it was to illustrate that science is not just a collections of immaterial facts and figures, but the study of reality. This was also seen in his desire for the motto and aim of the ignoble prize completion to be changed; it was originally an award for “Science that should not and cannot be reproduced”, he morphed this to “Science that first makes you laugh, then makes you think”.

This aim was to elevate respect for science within the community and to inspire interest in education. Len fisher has also authored several novels on a variety of topics: Rock, Paper and Scissors: Game Theory in everyday life, How to dunk a doughnut: The science of everyday life, Weighing the soul: The evolution of Scientific ideas, The perfect swarm: The science of Complexity in everyday life. By illustrating common science to the community Fisher is attempting to stir interest within the community, young and old, and this approach might help fellow communicators to attract and maintain interest in how the world works.

As a result of reading the above I’ve come to a number of conclusions: a) I want to meet Len Fisher & learn stuff from him! b) I need to keep an eye open for future BrisScience events; & c) there isn’t enough time in the future timespan of the universe to read all the good science books I come across. (Well, OK, that last is pure exaggeration, but you know what I mean!) 

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