We are told as scientists to engage with the public. We are told to make our science “sexy” and relevant to a general audience. For some, that’s easy. Their science is naturally appealing to the public and their research has a simple but futuristic sounding application, like everlasting toilet paper or a contact lens that detects evil. The problem is, here are the things the general public google:
- Justin Bieber
- Ice Bucket Challenge
- How to be lazy and not fat
- The lyrics from the famous song in Aladdin
For most scientists, it’s hard to make that small but important discovery sound like you’ve just solved the world’s erection problems. This is where the media department of a university can come in handy. They’re able to take any research from any field and write an article to make you sound like the savior of mankind. Science, which is the the systematic application of knowledge based on evidence, is not allowed to overstate it’s findings in papers. On the other hand, scientists are more than happy to get their 15 minutes of fame and nod along as the journalists ask: “could your findings be used to create a whole new world to be viewed from a magic carpet?”. Are we so desperate to get the names of our universities in glossy print, alongside the photoshopped image of Katy Perry, that we are are okay with stretching the truth to the point of lying?
Every scientist can become indoctrinated by their own research. We have to tell funding bodies how awesome out research is, and if you keep telling people how awesome you are, at some point you’ll probably start to believe it too. Unfortunately, just like J. Lo’s left buttock, just because you see it in the newspaper it doesn’t mean it’s real.
To help all budding researchers and media whores, here is a list of applications that will help you grab your the attention of your audience. Note: doesn’t have to be an actual application of your research.
- Cancer Cure (particulary childhood cancer in orphans)
- Iron man (or any robot super hero)
- Longer lasting (insert anything here)
- Invisibility cloak (perverts)
- Helping cute dogs (obviously)