Popping Science Bubbles

I once read that cocaine was God’s way of letting somebody know they had too much money. Quantum physics may be God’s way of saying we are taking ourselves way too seriously. As Kevin Kelly says on Google+ “We are vast and empty… Atom-wise, that is.” This was Kelly’s response to Professor Brian Cox’s BBC Lecture ‘A Night with the Stars’.

The video features the professor, a £Million diamond plus a number of British celebrities who volunteer themselves to be used (embarrassed) in the cause of making a complex area of science more fun and accessible. Apparently the professor is on the receiving end of some criticism for his recent (successful) show ‘The Wonders of the Universe’. I wonder how many of these criticisms emit from academics known to don funny medieval robes from time to time? Ultimately, if folks learn something new about existence from a popular science program then that distant butterfly did flap it’s wings.

2 thoughts on “Popping Science Bubbles

  1. In-groups are always contemptuous of outsiders who aspire to partake (however distantly) in their mysteries. Physicists are no exception to this. Added to this, many older physicists who perhaps are no longer producing astounding physics results, sometimes do attend to the popular understanding of science or thinking about the purpose and nature of physics. For this reason these activities are seen as signs that such persons are no longer insiders. So such people are often rejected as true insiders, both for doing non-physics things AND for helping outsiders to look in (without the signs of deep membership).

    The culture of physics is very strong. This is one of the reasons for its success. It has little respect for authorities and if you have not produced brilliant papers then there is no excuse – you are clearly either not clever enough or you have not worked hard enough. However this very strength has downsides, as revealed when they successfully divert large chunks of public money to their own obsessions (the large hadron collider at CERN) and in the barriers put up to outsiders to understand what they do.

    Of course, us sociologist are NEVER guilty of anything of this kind! 😉

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