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Monday, August 16, 2010

 

Live Blogging the Naked Scietists

Here I am live blogging a talk by the founder of the Naked Scientists, and I didn't bring my camera!

Chris Smith starts with a humorous slide show. Fundamental rule, the internet will take what you put up and spit it out in ways you don't want. Discusses the role of humour in gaining attention and getting people engaged.

Podcasts and radio broadcasts, verbal, not visual, sometimes need visuals so do Kitchen science: experiment done alongside broadcasts and people phone up with results; reinforce messages. Made a chocolate teapot, need 1 inch thick chocolate to withstand boiling water, did brew a decent cuppa with chocolate teapot.

How fat do you have to be to stop a bullet. 76 cm of fat gut will stop a bullet. (video of ball bearing shout out via helium powered gun, going through tube of gelatin).

Sneezes travel at 108 Km/hr. Made use of estimation to get people engaged and thinking.

Quote: "People say scientists are humorless, but anyone who has looked at a chemistry encyclopedia will know that this is not true" Used arsoles as example, and moronic acid (actually pistacio resin, used to date pottery). Lots of other funny names (too rude to write here). B13 (orotic acid, is also known as erotic acid because so many people misspell it).

Chris now asks for questions: Asked to comment on intelligent Design, uses Ca2SbMg4FeBe2Si4O2O as his reply, then explains difference between UK (state wide curriculum) vs US (local board control) should biology be taught in RE? Why should RE teachers teach biology. "Can argue intelligently with creationists, but it takes 10 years" (paraphrase).

Chris is an accomodationist :-)

Lots of creationism questions (talks about Lenski), now on to charter schools.

I get at ask a question, I ask how he chooses stories. Chris says he takes home 30 papers that have just been published, and looks at them to see if they are a) interesting, b) of general interest, c) can be explained simply d) can be done on radio. Usually choose 5 stories, then write up a couple of paragraphs on each. Send to Radio National, they choose enough stories for 7-8 minutes (not even UK does this, Yay Australia!). Then on the day of the Naked Scientists broadcast, meet with collaborators, choose from all stories written. Also get an interview from one of the authors of chosen papers.

Are scientists bad communicators? Chris feels scientists get a bad rap about communication, more a reflection of what editors are interested in. How can scientists communicate their love of science better? Youtube type videos?(use humor, educate by subversion)

Can measure speed of light using microwave and buttered bread! mass action type experiments.

Naked Scientists scrapbooks. Videos with drawings to get kids intrigued. Most work done with auido, but use live sketches to capture imagination. Cover lots of concepts in a short time. (eg, why don't birds is sitting on pwerlines get electrocuted, covers circuits, heart structure, brain oxygen requirements, electrical theory. not live yet). Designed for Youtube propagation.

What gave Chris the inspiration to jump from science to science communication: Chris says "i'm a pathological learner" did medicine, fascinated by neuroscience, added in PhD looked at designing viruses to deliver genes to the central nervous system (very cool work!). Loved learning about sciecne, got involved in Cambridge Science festival, over a week doors opened to public and all free (lectures, hands on demonstrations etc,). Used large firecracker in bin, destroyed bin and made everyone jump, fire alarms went off, but demonstrated nerve conduction velocity. "Edutainment" making science fun as well as enlightening. Then radio interviewer got them on show, and it snowballed from there. Asked for grant to get funding to buy air time for a weekly science show, GOT funding, radio show signed them up. Then radio show asked them to carry on. Did this in middle of PhD. Though of funny name Bought domain name of Naked Scientist, one of worlds first science podcasts, and BBC heard it and took them on (website 3 million hits per year, podcast in top 10 in itunes downloads!) So popular had trouble find sponsor for downloading 15 TERABYTES of data!!!). Did manage to break this server!

Did PhD, did medical rounds, working doctor, has done clinical virology training .... while still doing Naked Scientists!! (joke, Chis created multimedia empire in less time then it took to pass his virology exams, proving the exams are hard).

Question: do you run out of ideas! No, still have new ideas. Naked Engineering coming soon!

What was the best experiment you've ever done? Chocolate teapot, How fat do you have to be to be to stop a bullet, Volcano Bombs (wallpaper past dissolved in fizzy drinks, mess is devastating),

Question has there been anything that you wanted to talk about but was too complicated: Quantum mechanics (proton is 4% smaller than we though, explaining this difficult. Made Muonic hydrogen, muons instad of electrons, Muons orbit closer to the protons, by recording energy given off muons being excited, specific energy means that protons must be smaller.)

What was surprising about human genome project? How few genes we have. Epigenetics.

What would you say to Australian leaders to bolster science in the community. Politicians like dollar signs. Science makes technology, technology makes money.

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