Written by Sophie Okolo
“Communication is not something you add on to science; it is of the essence of science.” Alan Alda
Renowned British cosmologist Stephen Hawking has launched a new scientific award for science communication. The announcement was made on Jan. 16 at the Royal Society building in London. Individuals who have outstanding contribution to science communication are eligible for the prize – the Stephen Hawking Medal.
As the field continues to grow, communicating science to the public will involve strategic planning and better management for impactful results. It is therefore great to see many science communicators trailblazing in their respective topics. Hopefully, Hawking’s status can bring an added exposure to a discipline that is important to society.
From Bill Nye to Jay Ingram, science communicators educate the public on various scientific concepts. Also known as “popularizers of science,” these individuals have a way of not only conveying technical subjects, but also connecting with a lay audience. This requires great skill and creativity that is important in science communication.
Filmmaker Derek Muller is one such example. Muller is known for creating the YouTube channel “Veritasium” in 2011. The videos range from interviews with experts to science experiments, dramatizations, songs and interviews with the public to reveal misconceptions about science. “Veritasium” has achieved its goal of making science and engineering enjoyable, and the channel currently has 3,113,440 subscribers – and growing!
Science communicators do not necessarily need to hold degrees in technical subjects. While it is helpful, some folks like American actors Alan Alda and Morgan Freeman have successfully navigated this field without having degrees in biology, chemistry, etc. Their celebrity status and ability to communicate may have helped to secure their jobs as hosts on “Scientific American Frontiers” and “Through the Wormhole” respectively, but their knowledge and familiarity with scientific facts is also crucial.
Communicating science to a lay audience is important in engaging with a world that finds science concepts hard to understand, hence a lack of connection between scientists and non-scientists. Thankfully, science communicators are bridging the gap with their wit, creativity and talent to inspire current and future generations.
What do you think about science communication? Is it important in our society?
Check out this fun and informative video on science communication by Jayde Lovell!