29 August 2006

Communication is a risky business

A note over on the EurActiv web siteEurActiv web site adds to the growing debate about the way in which risk is presented to people. The main message is that "A report on the EU-25's national risk-communications practices recommends involvement of stakeholders in the risk-management process." There are links there to a rather large study of the way in which risk is communicated in electricity, chemical waste and GM food.

Another take on a similar theme comes up in Wordblog in a message entitled "Journalists need remedial maths". As the poster says:

Many of the young people who want to become journalists say they have always loved writing and want to use that skill to communicate with people. How I long to hear one substitute "maths" for "writing".

Pity they sometimes confuse maths with simple arithmetic. But at least they don't commit the American crime of calling it math.

17 August 2006

Big money to think small

Nanodot has a brief item, Converting nanotechnology cash into public engagement, showing that the US National Science Foundation is to spend "$20 million over five years to a network of science museums and related institutions" for "a program in Nanoscale Informal Science Education".

The money will include weekends of molecular model building, a three-hour lecture/discussion event and two artworks.

Nanodot's observer is "a bit dubious in terms of educational value". My take is that the US is putting almost as much money into this as some ostensibly scientific countries can afford for research in nanotechnology. And the US, where they love new technology, isn't exactly the place where you expect to find an anti-nano lobby.

11 August 2006

Naked Scientists swamp their hosts

One of the world's most popular podcasts is straining the internet as servers struggle to keep up with demand. Cambridge University tells us that the Naked Scientists science radio show has gone platinum. The show gets 50,000 downloads a week, they tell us.

This may not look like a large number when set alongside the numbers for the BBC's radio programmes, but it seems to be enough to cause waves in Podland.

About that name, the press release tells us that it derives from the aim of its presenter, Dr Chris Smith, a medical doctor and lecturer from the University of Cambridge, "to strip science down to its bare essentials and promote it to the general public".

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04 August 2006

EPSRC has money for media savvy scientists

They used to laugh at scientists who wanted to talk to the media. Some still moan that being a "media tart" provokes derision from colleagues who consider any second away from the lab to be a waste of time, or even a crime against science.

Now researchers can get money from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to beef up their media cred.

EPSRC has just put out a Call for Proposals for Senior Media Fellowships. The idea is to "enable leading researchers to devote time to develop a higher media profile".

It would be interesting to see if this sort of thing adds to, or takes away from, a researchers scientific stature.

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