Why Scientists Tease Pop Culture Scientists
Melissa Franklin is the first woman ever to achieve tenure in the Harvard physics department. She is an experimental particle physicist who has been working on the Collider Detector at Fermilab, an experiment designed generally to study the collisions of protons and anti-protons at the highest energies currently possible. In January, she will be working at the new Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.
Question: What do you think about popularizers of science like Brian Greene?
Melissa Franklin: I think it’s great. People made so much fun of Carl Sagan, but he did so many great things. You know what I think is great? These people who popularize science and then they – everybody hates them, of course, like you say, well you like Brian Greene, Brian Greene was a post-doc in our department. He’s a young guy, right? And I’ll make fun of him because he’s – that’s what we do. Scientists make fun of science popularizers, on the other hand, it’s a wonderful thing. What could be better about taking science to the people? That’s exactly where it belongs. So, I really admire those people and every once in a while I’ll do something like that myself. And if they get very full of themselves, fine. Why not. I mean, I think they’re doing a great job. Nevertheless, I am the first one to make fun of people.
Recorded on: October 21, 2009
Empirical scientists won’t stop making fun of popular science icons like Brian Greene, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love them.
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