Public displays of exciting science

The clip from the BBC2 documentary “windscale :Britains Biggest Nuclear Disaster” shows how atomic science was viewed as a mysterious but wonderful persuite and the scientists given titles such as Boffins, the atom men, the atomics and Britain’s atom age heroes.

The 2008 TED talk by “Rock-star physicist” Brian Cox also portrays the science as an exciting and wonderful pursuit but unlike the first clip, the TED video tries to remove the mystery of science by trying to explain, in as much detail as possible what they are doing.

Do these examples accurately represent science?

I think this a complicated question.  I don’t doubt that the scientists in both clips are genuinely excited and optimistic about their work, along with their colleges working in exciting cutting edge science, but this does not represent all science and all scientists in the same way that those involved with designing and maintaining formulae one winning sports cars do not represent all mechanics.  In the same way that scientists should be aware that there are many different types of ‘publics’ there should also be an awareness of the many different types of sciences and scientists.


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