Wednesday, May 9, 2012

POPULAR SCIENCE has always included people talking to scientists as well as scientists talking to people ...

   HALIFAX - Professor Bernie Lightman, the editor of the prestigious history of science journal ISIS, told the 150th anniversary lecture celebration of the Nova Scotia Institute of Science (NSIS) at Kings College University on May 7th, that Victorian popularizers of Science encompassed far more types of individuals and organizations than the well known science practicioner-popularizers like Thomas Huxley that most histories of Victoria science popularization begin and conclude with.
  In speaking to the NSIS of non-scientists who dared speak in public about the sacred religion of Science (all bow), Lightman was in a very real sense, speaking to the converted.

   But Lightman's account of the extraordinarily wide variety of Victoria popularizers was a rebuke to popular science as it is regarded today, where most of those allowed to write about science are either prominent scientists or prominent science journalists.
   It is no game for amateurs both editors and readers seem to say.
   Perhaps in the area of popular science books, this is definitely true.
   But citizen amateurs are writing lots about science in blogs and being seriously read - to adapt an old joke about the Internet: 'on the Internet, no one knows you're a blog'.
   Meaning that visually, the blog of the top science journalist at the New York Times, of a Nobel Prize winning scientist, or from Josephine Blow from down the road , all tend to look alike.
   The blogging price of entry starts low and it starts free and neither Nobel Prize-winning academic footnoting nor mega media corporate money will enable any blog to separate themselves from their lessors.
   A future century's Dr Lightman will , beyond a doubt, be looking at blogs rather than lecture halls and Powerpoint magic lantern shows to locate the nexus of popular scientific debate in the 21st century....

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