Fabrication, misquotation, Brits vs. Yanks, the April Fool's Balrog and imaginative pedants. All in a few months' chat on ABSW-L…
A point in space
One point was all that Archimedes needed to balance a lever to shift our planet out of orbit, and that’s that. Well no it isn’t. He’d also need a lever long enough. And that’s the problem. If Syd Perkowitz, a professor of physics at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia could address Archimedes today, he would allow him only one piece of science fantasy. “What’s it going to be, Archie? Lever or point? Make your mind up, we haven’t got all day.”
Spring has sprung, the clocks have lurched us forward into British ‘Summer’ Time and a writer's thoughts turn to the long, glorious evenings ahead. Or, more likely, huddling in a pub to avoid yet another rain shower. So instead of shivering in a pub garden, why not come along to one of these scintillating events?
In the spring of 1997, I found myself in Strasbourg at the first meeting of Euroscience. I'm a young research student, disillusioned with academia, and I've been paid to come and moan about how miserable life is for postgraduates. During a break, I wandered over to a balcony to drink my nasty black euro-coffee. Somehow I ended up chatting to a bearded man who turned out to be a journalist.
I remembery vividly hearing Susan Greenfield on BBC Radio 4's In the Psychiatrist's Chair back in 2000. I was painting my living room and didn't really have an opinion about her at that time. I'd read her book The Human Brain: A Guided Tour and, although I didn't absolutely adore it, I thought it was pretty good. So if anything I was pre-disposed to like her...
This isn’t meant to be a self-help page, but I will offer one sound nugget of advice and that is to join the ABSW if you haven’t done so already. My justification for this, above and beyond the usual draw of parties and general connection with like-minded individuals, are the benefits and opportunities that might just get tossed in your direction from the high table of the great and successful in science communication.
Towards the beginning of 2009, Natasha Loder asked me to take over the role of editor of The Science Reporter and to demonstrate that an electronic publication would not just be cheaper than the printed version, it could be better. Judging from the survey, I think we can say we proved our point. Having done the job I was asked to do for almost my full term of a year (I'll finish in January), I think it's important that the job go to someone else who has the ideas, enthusiasm, creativity, and time to devote to it.
You'll see a piece about the Templeton Fellowship in this issue, and I don't feel I can let it stand without at least some comment. When Mike Hanlon suggested writing the piece I felt snookered. On the one hand I felt it would be giving the wrong kind of publicity to an organization that seems to me to be both pro-religion and anti-science, and that, it could be claimed, uses wads of cash to bypass the integrity of otherwise decent scientists and journalists. On the other hand, holding this view made it impossible for me to claim that I could make an objective decision on the subject, so I couldn't in good conscience say no.