And It All Started With a Big Bang…

What comes to mind when someone says “scientist”? A common image is a sullen white-haired gentleman in a white lab coat playing with equipment in a spotless lab. Often science is perceived as being for the elite, a strange phenomena that cannot be understood nor fathomed. It is not seen to affect everyday life at all.

The Big Bang Theory is a comedy about scientists. Banished is the idea of white lab coats and clinical laboratories. These scientists are young, vibrant and loving life. Although the Big Bang Theory has been a highly successful show, the method of science communication is questionable. The Big Bang Theory was not made to educate the public about science, but has been extremely successful in bringing science and scientists to the attention of the public (Riesch 2014).

The dorky, loveable characters communicate that scientists are not to be feared but are intelligent people who are often intimidated by social interaction. The show also argues that science plays a major role in everyday life. It is a platform for scientific concepts to be communicated and the common ideas of science to be explained. On occasions, the scientific principles presented are explained to Penny, a girl without a thorough understanding of science, in a style that is easy to understand. At other times, the scientific concepts are explained with nothing but jargon and condescension.

Despite the communication methods, the science is accurate. The writers of the show rely on the expertise of a physics consultant, David Saltzberg and neurobiologist Mayim Bialik. Mayim Bialik plays the character Amy Farrah Fowler, a neurobiologist.

There is a danger that the some of the negative preconceptions of science and scientists reinforced by the show. The general idea of scientists has been changed, however, there are some characteristics that stay. Scientists are thought to be socially awkward and to have difficulty communicating. There is also the belief that science is for the elite.

The Big Bang Theory is an entertaining sitcom. It has revolutionised the general public’s perception of science and scientist. The science, although accurate, is not always communicated in the most effective style. It must be noted that this show is not designed to educate. As Mayim Balik says, it is important to remember this show is for entertainment (Russo 2012).

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Bibliography

Riesch, H. (2014). “Why did the proton cross the road? Humour and science communication.” Public Understanding of Science: 1-8.

Russo, G. (2012). “Turning Point: Mayim Bialik.” Nature 485(669).

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Ebola: Facts vs Fiction

With news of Ebola spreading to Spain and with cases documented in America, people are starting to worry. Rumours and myths are flooding the internet. These ideas claim things like drinking the same water will cause the disease to spread. This virus is indeed as issue. However, it is important to get the facts right before any actions are taken.

Here are four facts to help fight the fiction surrounding ebola:

1. Ebola spreads through direct contact with someone who has the virus. This includes the exchange of bodily fluids.

2. An individual is not infectious until symptoms develop.

3. The average fatality rate is 50%.

4. Although there is no vaccine, two are currently being developed.

It is important that the facts are spread and not rumours.

Now that you know about these facts, how would you communicate them to the general public?

For more information about the ebola virus, please visit: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/ebola

Clicks Matter

How important is surfing the internet? At first glance, most people would say that it’s not. What people look at online has no effect on the outside world. Funnily enough, this is incorrect. What people view, share and even click on has a major impact on shaping the world.

Sally Kohn suggests in her TedTalk that which links are clicked on affect more than people think. Clicking on advertising on website and social media sites such as Facebook, will determine the advertisements an individual will see in the future. Not only that, people can control what is prominent on the internet. By clicking on a news article about a horrific event, people are giving a voice to that horrible event. Clicking on articles about racism, gives racism the lime light. All these acts are just done by clicking.

It may not seem like much, just clicking on a link, but it will determine what the world will see on the internet today.

Mr Green with the Pole in the Kitchen- The Real Story of Forensics

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So we’ve all seen NCIS and CSI, with the sexy main characters who can solve even the most bizarre cases. Forensic science appears to be fast-paced, intense and exciting. Unfortunately real life is not quite the same.

So, what is the difference between real life and TV?

One key difference is the time factor. In real life, analysis can take anywhere between a minute to several hours. The equipment used in the analysis process can be processing not just evidence from the crime scene, but evidence from another crime.

Another point to raise is the relevance of physical evidence. Almost always, the case on NCIS is solved by the appearance of a fingerprint or another physical clue. This is not necessarily the case in real life. Physical evidence is indeed an important component, but the case does not rest solely on this.

The representation of forensic science in the media is causing people to have the wrong idea. These are just a few of the key differences between real life and the media. What are some others?

Six Parking Bays of Difference

What if you could grow an entire forest in a space that could fit six cars? That’s what reforestation expert Shubhendu Sharma has done.

Using relatively simply and cheap materials, Sharma has been able to grow ten years worth of forest growth in the space of three years.

This is great news for reforestation. Sharma claims that using his particular technique, he can grow over three hundred trees in the space six cars would take up. This whole process can be done for less than it costs to make an iPhone.

What do you think? It this a viable option for future reforestation projects?

Is Science Making the Future a Better Place?

Vivek Wadhwa wrote a very interesting article in the Washington Post about science and the future. The author highlighted the expectations people have of science after watching various movies and TV shows like Star Trek and Back to the Future. Although, 2015 is approaching and hover boards are yet to be able to the public. Yet, the advances in science and technology have been just short of remarkable. 

Just fifteen years ago, the internet was dial-up and could only be accessed if no one was using the phone. Now, we have devices that allow us to have access to the internet at anytime, anywhere. Scientists are exploring the idea of printing organs using 3D printers, made from a specific individual’s DNA!

Unlike the futuristic TV shows and movies, there is still fighting, poverty and people starving. Science can be used to solve these problems. Already people are exploring what science can do to get people clean water, shelter and raise the general standard of living.

We may not have the Utopia we desire yet, but with science on our side, we might just get there. 

http://geektyrant.com/news/2012/3/26/american-reunion-directors-want-to-remake-back-to-the-future.html

Need an Organ? Let’s Print It!

3D printing is not a new concept. Already, scientists are dreaming of printing not only teeth and bones, but organs made from an individual’s own DNA!

Despite the excitement surrounding this new technology, the printing of organs is still years down the track. However, it is hoped that this will become an increasingly useful tool in the medical world.

Currently, various companies are attempting to print tissue samples that could be used for testing of cosmetic products within five years. The printing of teeth is also being investigated.

It is estimated that it will another ten years at least before organs will be able to be printed. However, this technology is already being used to print parts for cars.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you needed an organ, and all the doctor had to do was print it? One day, this dream will become reality. The sooner, the better.

For more information:
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/aug/24/medical-implants-drive-3d-printer-growth

Breast Cancer… And Abortions?

Sometimes it is hard to know what to believe. With each person throwing science jargon around, at times is hard to distinguish what is fact and what is fiction.

At the beginning of August, Senator Eric Abetz incorrectly communicate scientific research on The Project. He suggested that there is a link between breast cancer and abortions.

Senator Eric Abetz communicated this information, although he has no scientific background. However, when challenged, he asked if the person had any scientific background or knowledge.

The research the Senator had been referring to was exploring the link between breast cancer and abortions. The study concluded that there was no connection between the two. The Senator’s background is in law and art, not medicine or science.

When given information about a scientific event or discovery, my advice is to look about their history and see if they have a background or understanding of the topic.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zdxjraLHtMw

Correlations with Chickens

Statistics, the very word makes some people shudder. It is a subject that is often discussed but seldom understood. Sometimes people draw conclusions based on two things that are not related. If you throw a bit of jargon in there people are often confused by what is actually being said. Just make sure, when you hear statistics be wary.

 

 

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