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Tag archives: science communication

Should more leading scientists engage in public service?

By James Dacey

Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman. (Courtesy: Fermilab)

Richard Feynman – undoubtedly one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century – died 25 years ago this year. To mark the passing of this physics and cultural icon, the BBC and the Open University have teamed up to produce two television programmes about Feynman’s life and work. The first programme aired in the UK on Monday, a docudrama called The Challenger portraying the role Feynman played in the investigation into the causes of the Challenger disaster. Readers in the UK can watch the programme here. Later this year, the BBC will broadcast a documentary about Feynman’s life.

I enjoyed Monday’s drama. I thought William Hurt did an excellent job of playing a smart and humane Richard Feynman, without over-cooking the “eccentric bongo-player” aspects of Feynman’s personality. Hurt certainly earned his wages, as the plot focused almost exclusively on how the Nobel laureate navigated his way through the alien world of high-level US politics, with all its game-playing and vested interests. My only criticism would be that because the film was so intensely focused on Feynman’s moves and responses, we didn’t really get to know any of the supporting characters.

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BBC celebrates Richard Feynman

By Hamish Johnston

William Hurt

William Hurt stars as Richard Feynman in the BBC2 drama The Challenger.

The BBC and the Open University have teamed up to produce two television programmes about Richard Feynman – the Nobel-prize-winning scientist who died 25 years ago.

Outside of the physics community, Feynman is probably best known for his diligent and outspoken role in the investigation into the causes of the Challenger disaster.

Like many of my generation, I can remember exactly where I was when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after take-off on 28 January 1986: it was a snowy Tuesday in Guelph, Ontario, and for some reason I was still at home at 11.39 a.m. when the accident occurred.

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What’s the most important feature of a successful science blog?

Producing a blog with a typewriter

The good ol’ blog, a stalwart of Web 2.0. (iStockphoto/malerapaso)

 By James Dacey

The dramatic rise in traffic on social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter in recent years could have left the good “old-fashioned” blog looking a bit like a frumpy relic of the noughties. But I’m convinced that this is not yet the case.

While it is true that we science writers are becoming Face-Twits in our droves, it seems that many of us still see the blogosphere as an important forum for discussion and debate. I view it as a place where you can express yourself candidly in a more freeform style, and do so without stripping away all the complexities of an issue to nothing more than a witty 140-character soundbite #BitterJournoTakesSwipe@Twitter.

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