Oct 1, 2014

The Science Festival in Berlin

You know those science shows, right? The mad professor on TV. An Einstein-lookalike (the hair, the tongue, wild eyes, lab-coat, dry-ice, smoke, bubbles, bang!). This is the impression your kids get: science is stupid crap. Putting an egg in a microwave and watching it blow up - that is science. Freezing a rose with liquid nitrogen and then trampling on it - close to Nobel-prize.
We scientists know: it is not.
But our PR-professionals tell us that we *have to* communicate like that. We have to be accessible. That's why they always smuggle their fishy last sentence into the press-releases: 'this brings us one step closer to quantum computing' - no! 'so, time-travel seems not that unlikely at last!' - wrong!
The guy responsible for science at Der Spiegel told us years ago: 'if you want your stuff published, we need a catchy title, awesome images. And you know: sex sells'. He was not joking! And look, the most widely quoted research result of the Forschungsverbund Berlin (the administrative link-up of eight institutes our Paul-Drude-Institute is a member of) is probably the work on ... dare I say it .... Rhino insemination. (stop clicking. I just painted it blue ... there is no link here)
Remember when we opposed the view that 'every academic should be blogging'? Somebody wrote "blogging is quite simply, one of the most important things that an academic should be doing right now".
Listen. We have a mission. We want our scientific results to be transferred into society. It should get there as fast as possible and it should be as accessible as possible so that it can be 'used'. But it has to be the real stuff. Innovation does not come from secretly optimizing what we have. It does not come from patenting every discovery and filing it in the basement or selling it to a company (that files it in the basement). It get's there by communicating it. Professionally.
And we want the public to see why science is such an important part of our culture. I see scientists at four o'clock in the morning bursting of excitement in their lab. The public should know of those emotions. So, let's tell them.
We will try that with our Science Festival this fall in Berlin. We call it "STATE experience science festival". And that is a link you should click on! I hope to see you there.
Don't hesitate to look the festival up on facebook or twitter - and spread the news.