A really interesting read from Sylvia McLain - Why is it that culturally, we don’t expect scientific literacy, despite it being the heart of many aspects of modern life? What do you think? Personally I think that everyone should stop banging on about Brian Cox.
BBC Radio 4 are currently running a series on Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Just So Stories’ which explains the science behind the stories ponderous questions including ‘How the Camel Got His Hump’ and ‘How the Whale Got His Throat’.
Everyone needs to pause for a moment and appreciate the existence of the Ig Nobel Prize. These annual awards are organized by the scientific humour magazine Annals of Improbable Research and are basically the Nobel Prize’s bastard little brother, awarded to bizarre, imaginative and seemingly pointless scientific achievements. Fantastic achievements in science are often also fantastically absurd, and the Ig Nobel Prize honours these in a good-humoured, tongue-in-cheek way, aiming to “first make people laugh, and then make them think.” Some of my favourite awards from the last few years include:
2012 Neuroscience Prize: For testing out MRI on a dead salmon to show that brain researchers can see meaningful brain activity in nearly anything.
2012 Literature Prize: For a report issued about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.
2012 Medicine Prize: For advising doctors who perform colonoscopies how to minimize the chance of their patients exploding.
2011 Peace Prize: For demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with an armoured tank.
2010 Engineering Prize: For perfecting a method to collect whale snot using a remote-control helicopter.
2009 Public Health Prize: For inventing a bra that can be converted into two protective face masks in an emergency.
2008 Cognitive Science Prize: For discovering that slime molds can solve puzzles.
2007 Peace Prize: For research into a chemical weapon that would make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other.