Science Light for Masses

The Journal (Newcastle, England), August 25, 2011 | Go to article overview

Science Light for Masses


Byline: John Hill

WHAT'S not to love about science? After all, what we're talking about here is a quest to find out more about everything that amazes, scares and mystifies us; to look under the bonnet of the world, and maybe discover a sliver of knowledge that could make our lives better.

Of course, sometimes we need someone to remind us of that wonder, rather than drag us through a forest of jargon by our hair and hope we make it through without scars.

"It's becoming clearer and clearer that there's quite an appetite for science out there," said Ian Simmons, director of science communications at Newcastle's Centre for Life.

"It's racked up another level recently. People do find it interesting and entertaining. But it needs people involved in scientific research and discovery to meet them halfway."

The Centre for Life is involved in a lot of community-focused events around science and technology, from the Wallace and Gromit Cracking Ideas show to the Science City Showcase and the DIY experience of the Maker Faire.

It's now also looking for enthusiastic young scientists to take part in the regional heats of the national FameLab competition.

FameLab is a creation of the Cheltenham Science Festival, which challenges scientists, engineers and science teachers to test their skills in getting across a scientific concept in an entertaining way.

These science communicators will complete a performance in front of a panel of judges on October 8, and a select number will go on to the FameLab UK final in March next year.

Contestants must be over 21, and a UK or EU resident working in science, technology, engineering, medicine or maths in the UK.

For more information, go to http://famelab.org/uk Simmons said: "The idea is to encourage people who aren't involved in science communication to have a go, and to add to the gene poll of people bringing science to life. It's this kind of event that might turn up the next Brian Cox.

"I have done a few of these before, including one in Cardiff when a man called Dr Mark Lewney explained string theory using an electric guitar. He went on to win the competition. It was very clear and quite funny."

The desire for scientists who can pass on the joy of their work has been demonstrated by the popularity of people such as particle physicist Brian Cox.

But there's also an uneasiness about how science is presented, specifically when it goes through the noisy grist mill of the modern media. …

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