Despite having to employ biophysical methods in my day job, I must admit my woeful understanding of physics as a discipline. I wasn’t like my high school grease monkey friends using torque wrenches on their cars with Springsteenonian dedication and my lowest grade in undergrad came in physics. For that reason, I rarely have the opportunity to link to fellow ScienceBlogger, Chad Orzel of Uncertain Principles. Prof Orzel was one of the earliest science bloggers, coming online in June, 2002.
Chad posted about being on the programme of a meeting in Waterloo, Ontario, entitled, “Science in the 21st Century: Science, Society, and Information Technology.” The description of his talk is here but what I really encourage you to do is look at his slideshow at SlideShare. I would’ve liked to have seen the talk to put the slides in context but they are effective enough on their own to give me a couple of good take-home messages:
I put this post under the Humanities & Social Science channel rather than the Physical Science channel because the talk has much more to do with communications and social interactions relative to physics per se:
1. Much of the fault with flat or declining US federal research funding (NIH and NSF the biggies) lies in our failure as scientists to effectively communicate our case to Congress.
2. Academic advancement is not set up with incentives to encourage scientific involvement in advocacy or other activities that cultivate a “constituency for science.”
3. Galileo knew more about “framing” his message for an audience than did Newton, with very different outcomes.
4. Scientific blogs are great vehicles for communicating science to the public who already embrace science, when they have a chance to hear about it.
5. Writing science blogs helps to cultivate a scientist’s skill in communicating science to this larger audience.
6. Occasional postings on art, music, new babies, pets, talking with pets about physics, etc. tend to humanize scientists and may positively influence public perception of the scientist.
7. Authoring science blogs can sometimes lead to greater opportunities for public science education, such as book deals.
So scroll through the slides – lots of good ideas there – and I hope that Chad is able to offer the audio at some point.