Warning : grumpy posting.
I arrived in London this morning and bought the Guardian. Front page news was the arrival of the lovely new Manifestos from Labour and the Conservatives . The Labour manifesto cover is just so socialist realist. Its a hoot. Anyhoo. In the Science net-o-sphere several blargs and columns have already tried to decode what they say about science – eg Mark Henderson at the Times, and Nick Dusic at the S-Word. General consensus seems to be that the Tory one is vague to the point of meaninglessness, and the Labour one promises a “ring-fence” but doesn’t mention the height of the fence as it were. Is there actually a significant boffin vote ? Or are we hoping that basically Jane Public will vote for more Brian on the telly ?
Thumbing through my Guardian, I found the G2 section had an article called “How Science became cool” with several nice short pieces by Brian Cox, Martin Rees, Tim Radford and others. (The online version is here ). My favourite is by comedian Dara O’Briain. I didn’t know that he was such a geek. The most puzzling was by Kevin Fong, because his header said he was an astrophysicist, but the footer said he was a lecturer in physiology. Cor. Cool dude.
I found myself pondering two things. One. How does P.B.Cox get any real work done these days ? Two. Yet again we see public displays of interest are about two thirds due to astronomy and particle physics. And one third genetics.
Conversely last week there was a very nice letter to the Times by a starry array of FRS bigwigs, which was all about how investment in science in general is crucial for a high technology twenty first century economy … but the list of signatories was heavily dominated by astronomers and particle physicists.
There is some kind of reality mismatch here. Is there much evidence that The Government has been mean to Science In General ? Not really. Is there evidence that The Government has been mean specifically to Astronomy and Particle Physics ? Yup. Do the politicians notice who is bitching ? Are the public stupid ? Don’t answer the last two questions.
I was a bit confused about Kevin Fong too. Perhaps he’s an astrophysiologist…
… or perhaps they confused him with Dick Fong?
Don’t forget the `Scientists for Labour’ letter to the Indy last week too spanning a rather broader spectrum of disciplines, although my personal favourite (and career highlight) was the Mail on Sunday letter adjacent to a photo of SamCam.
Dr Kevin outlines some of his non-standard career choices here. He’s recently reached the dizzying heights of a consultant, courtesy of twitter. Not that he’s a proper doctor of course..
In a way the fact that certain areas of science are being singled out is a lot like the footpathology you were talking about on your last blarg; originally all areas of science are covered by the press equally, then by one section is covered a bit more than the others, it gets more public interest, so it gets more press coverage, so it gets even further ahead of the other bits, etcetera etcetera.
And I thought you were in a Leichester conference this week? What are you doing in London?
P.S. I got albums by Thin Lizzy, Twisted Sister, The Troggs and AC/DC at MY conference in Warwick, you like?
If I remember rightly from a piece of his I read once, Kevin Fong works in space medicine and has done stuff on the effects of long duration space travel as on a trip to Mars, so can reasonably claim to be a physiologist with astronomical connections.
“How does P.B.Cox get any real work done these days ?”
Remember that Carl Sagan, despite being widely known as a television personality, actually did a lot of real science, even after he was famous, and was editor of
Icarus for years.
Of course, he saved time by not having to decide what to wear: the tan/beige blazer (of which he had several) was always appropriate.
What’s up with the extra space between the words in an interrogative sentence and its question mark, Guv’nor?
[…] the passion of the #SciVote campaigners and the paucity of the three manifestos is mentioned in this blog by the e-astronomer. But the real disparity is between events here and events in the USA where it appears President […]