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Shaggy Sheep Driver
11th Jan 2015, 19:33
David Baddiel having the basics of electricity explained to him (current and voltage) and failing to grasp it, as did presenter of 'Pick of the Week' Ian McMillan, who on playing that 'Pick' from an earlier Radio 4 programme commented how the simple and lucid explanation to Baddiel (using a water analogy) had passed him by as well (closed minds, perhaps?).

And then there's Will Self 'exploring' the Large Hadron Collider on R4 and not only displaying a complete lack of even basic scientific knowledge (or even the natural world - high pressure producing thunder storms FFS?), but seemingly despising science itself in the process! I don't suppose he considered for one moment the science and technology involved in enabling him to fly Geneva in the first place!

It really is no wonder that British 'universities' are struggling to produce much-needed scientists, engineers, and technicians while turning out sociologists, meja studies graduates, and other uselessly 'qualified' folk while our media is run and presented by a bunch of arts graduate luvvies living in a science desert!

I wonder if it's like that in China these days?

G-CPTN
11th Jan 2015, 20:32
David Baddiel early life (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Baddiel#Early_life).

David Baddiel personal life (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Baddiel#Family_and_personal_life).

Will Self early life (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Self#Early_life).

Will Self personal life (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Self#Personal_life).

Krystal n chips
11th Jan 2015, 20:42
" and other uselessly 'qualified' folk while our media is run and presented by a bunch of arts graduate luvvies living in a science dessert! "

Alas, you seem to have overlooked the possibility their qualifications may also include....literacy.

Alternatively, you may have just opened up a whole new field here....science infused with cookery and lightly drizzled with a garnish au twaddle du Weemaslow pretentious perhaps ?.

Old and Horrified
11th Jan 2015, 20:56
I agree with SSS. I listened to the first couple of Will Self programmes about CERN with eager anticipation as I had worked there way back in my university days in a Summer job. I have also read some of his writings and they are very good.

However, the programme was excruciatingly awful. I just could not listen to it. It was the "Idiot Abroad" approach that seems to be becoming more common nowadays in British TV. Why on earth is it OK to appear to be proud that you're no good at science?

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to all those in CERN who had the misfortune to be involved in this programme and say - we are not all like that!

The other favorite trick of TV companies seems to be to get the weirdest looking scientist available to answer technical questions and extra marks if he has wild windswept hair and a multi coloured pullover.

Its no wonder that it is so hard to get kids interested in science and engineering. James Dyson said in Saturday's Times newspaper that we in the UK are likely to be short of 60,000 engineers this coming year.

Fareastdriver
11th Jan 2015, 21:21
You think we have problems. China is going to be short of 600,000!. Same attitude; got a degree, sit at a desk and tell everybody else what to do.

OFSO
11th Jan 2015, 21:35
the weirdest looking scientist

An excellent post, SSD.

I couldn't agree more. It's as if the appearance of the person being interviewed is more important than what he says (and considering how dimwitted most interviewers are this is probably true.)

Another thing British mejia do is give priority to the USA, as if everything the US does is better than anything the hopelessly backwards Brits can do. Fair's far, in some areas we (British or Europe) are ahead, in others not so, but for every scientific advance it's the Americans who are portrayed as being the experts*.

Perhaps then it's no wonder that young British who watch this slanted rubbish on British TV can't be bothered going in for science.


*This isn't the case in Spain, France or Germany, BTW, where credit is given for European scientific leadership.

airship
11th Jan 2015, 21:40
The other probably more worrying concern about those 600,000 Chinese graduates coming out of the universities over there each year (apart from finding properly edifying and remunerative employment): is that they're all extremely horny.

The one-child policy has not helped in assuring an adequate male : female ratio. There's going to be a lot of hand-wringing involved. And some will get fecked more than is fair or normal.

Just don't let those jittery fingers anywhere near the important stuff, like the green push-buttons on the antiquated control-panels in the under-ground bunkers... ;)

Flash2001
11th Jan 2015, 21:57
Was a time in which British scientists and engineers could write the language. Long gone now I think!

After an excellent landing etc...

BabyBear
11th Jan 2015, 22:03
It really is no wonder that British 'universities' are struggling to produce much-needed scientists, engineers, and technicians while turning out sociologists, meja studies graduates, and other uselessly 'qualified' folk while our media is run and presented by a bunch of arts graduate luvvies living in a science dessert!

Nope, no surprise, SSD. What pisses me off though is the fact that it's not present undergraduates who are responsible. It's the older generation, many of whom are amongst the most vocal with complaint!

Tankertrashnav
11th Jan 2015, 22:31
And then there's Will Self 'exploring' the Great Hadron Collider on R4 and not only displaying a complete lack of even basic scientific knowledge (or even the natural world - high pressure producing thunder storms FFS?), but seemingly despising science itself in the process! I don't suppose he considered for one moment the science and technology involved in enabling him to fly Geneva in the first place!

I heard that programme SSD and made exactly the same point about the aircraft that got him there on the Bible Hampsterwheel (sic) thread (you wouldnt be nicking my ideas would you?;))

K & C - either I am getting stupider or your posts are getting more difficult to understand. However, may I give you Melvyn Bragg as an example of someone from an arts background who is nevertheless quite open to the idea that he might be able to learn about science in its most inaccessible forms - witness many editions of In Our Time. As for the rest, there are too many who claim to be able to understand Finnegan's Wake and Harold Pinter plays, but think that an inability to do the eight times table can be worn as a badge of honour :*

Windy Militant
11th Jan 2015, 23:19
This Occurred to me the other day and I wondered at the time if it has to do with the Media being less "Cutting Edge" these days.
By which I mean when Radio and Television were more novel and therefore attracted the more technically minded.
Now the actual mechanism of production and transmission have become divorced from the making of the programmes.
I've heard tales of tech and talent where the people who get the programmes on the air are looked down upon by those, who without them would be just am drammers!

Arthur C Clarke said when technology becomes sufficiently advanced it becomes indistinguishable from Magic. It doesn't need to be that advanced when most people don't know how water gets to the taps or how electricity gets to the little hole in the wall or look at you funny when you tell them a mobile phone is a radio transceiver. As far as they're concerned it's the imps and pixies that make their magic mirrors work! :ugh:

Fox3WheresMyBanana
12th Jan 2015, 01:04
Why on earth is it OK to appear to be proud that you're no good at science?

This is an English (not UK) disease, easily cured by emigration.:ok:

..and it's Large Hadron Collider...and I've been.

In Our Time is excellent. You can download every episode by podcast. There are...(consults his iTunes)..508, and I have 27 still to listen to...

Loose rivets
12th Jan 2015, 01:29
Lisa Randall's book, Knocking on Heaven's Door is a good read, but you need to keep up with her grasshopper mind. The astonishing facts she drops in here and there are truly breathtaking. The weight of some of the kit they lower into the tunnel v the weight of the Eiffle tower for example. (It's astonishing just how light the Eiffle tower is.)

She's a vivacious lady. Too much so. It takes one's mind off the subject when seeing her on't telly.

I spent so long trying to give my g-children a basic understanding of electricity. I don't think I did very well. Number 2 told me recently, in a voice two octaves lower than mine, that he wants to be a lawyer. I'm sure he'll get over it and become a particle physicist.

Fox3WheresMyBanana
12th Jan 2015, 01:39
A tiny glimpse into CERN for you non-physicists/engineers.

What you are reading now is courtesy of the World Wide Web, which was invented at CERN by a couple of lazy physicists who couldn't be bothered to type out URLs all the time.

This is one of the detectors, the Compact Muon Solenoid. I saw this whilst they were assembling it.
http://home.web.cern.ch/sites/home.web.cern.ch/files/styles/medium/public/image/experiment/2013/01/cms_0.jpeg?itok=amxaynNH

It weighs twelve and a half thousand tonnes, is chilled down to -271 degrees Celsius in normal operation (that's only 2 degrees above absolute zero), and assembled to tolerances finer than a human hair. Assembled because it was built on the surface, then taken apart, stuffed down a tube to around 100m underground, and re-assembled. Parts are made from ex-Cold War Soviet submarines and US howitzer shell cases (recycle!). The measurement is so sensitive that electric trains 7km away cause fields which have to be compensated for.

The data is handled by the Worldwide LHC Computer Grid ("The Grid"). It is the largest computing system on the planet. Design work started in 1999. When I visited in 2001, they still hadn't finalised the basic concept, and several key components hadn't been invented yet. It was turned on in 2002.
It co-ordinates 140 computer centres in 35 countries.

Three years to conceptualise, invent, design, build, test and run the largest computer system on the planet. I'll bet your local council takes longer to fix some potholes. How's that F35 coming along?

It is a 'Government-funded operation', but thankfully Governments have absolutely f#ck-all to do with running it.

It's run by a group of men and women from a huge number of countries, mostly in jeans and T-shirts, who are just plain keen on what they are doing.
Not one person I met there had weird hair.

OFSO
12th Jan 2015, 11:44
600,000 Chinese graduates

they're all extremely horny

I don't know whether to be more worried about the Chinese graduates or your intimate knowledge of their state of sexual arousal, airship. If you've checked them all I can only congratulate you. I couldn't even manage a single moderately horny one these days.

Here are some Chinese graduates (found after five minutes research on giggle), possibly limbering up before their interviews with airship:


http://i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu287/ROBIN_100/images_zps4080bbc1.jpg

Gertrude the Wombat
12th Jan 2015, 12:34
It is the largest computing system on the planet.
Really? - it always used to be thought that "the largest computing system on the planet" was "the telephone system".

Fox3WheresMyBanana
12th Jan 2015, 12:47
Depends how you define computing - used here in the sense of programmable for solving different problems.

603DX
12th Jan 2015, 14:58
However, may I give you Melvyn Bragg as an example of someone from an arts background who is nevertheless quite open to the idea that he might be able to learn about science in its most inaccessible forms - witness many editions of In Our Time.

Hear, hear, TTN! And he's not alone in ignoring the "arts v. sciences" dichotomy that the traditional UK education system has perpetuated for far too long. The rigid separation into the "Arts Sixth Form" and the "Science Sixth Form" at around the age of 16, based mainly on the pupil's performance in a broad range of subjects at GCSE exams, has stultified too many in their academic development.

Another well known media personality who also resisted ossification into either the "arty-farty" or the "science nerd" category was James Burke, who was in the arts sixth at my school, then went on to an M.A. at Oxford in Middle English. Yet he became best known as the main BBC TV presenter of the NASA moon landings in 1969, after a spell as the presenter of the "Tomorrow's World" science and engineering innovation programmes. And as a science historian, author and TV producer he continues to have a foot firmly planted in both camps ...

Flash2001
12th Jan 2015, 15:33
An acquaintance of mine in the military, Cpl John Ings used to say:

"I can understand your ignorance and I sympathize with your stupidity, what I cannot comprehend is the fact that you seem to be proud of it."

After an excellent landing etc...

Flying Lawyer
12th Jan 2015, 16:19
Agree re Melvyn Bragg, and thought he deserved being made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society.


I admire people who have the ability to make complicated subjects understandable to those who don't have their expertise and, in the context of this thread, Martin Rees (Astronomer Royal, President of the Royal Society 2005-2010, Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at Cambridge University) springs to mind.
He gave the 2010 Reith Lecture which was divided into four parts and broadcast weekly - fascinating listening on my way to work.
Professor Martin Rees (https://royalsociety.org/people/martin-rees)



630DX
Talking of school ....

Lyn Evans, LHC Project Leader, was in the science sixth at mine: Dr Lyndon Evans CBE FRS (https://royalsociety.org/people/fellowship/2010/lyndon-evans)

He retired from that post in 2010 but returned to CERN in 2012 as Director of the Linear Collider Project.

.

rgbrock1
12th Jan 2015, 16:27
There ya are Flying Lawyer, haven't seen you around for a bit. Glad to see you're alive and kickin'!!! :ok:

Shaggy Sheep Driver
12th Jan 2015, 17:51
Martin Rees is indeed a pleasure to listen to, and has that ability to put complex concepts over in a way that can be understood by the layman. But I suspect even he would have problems with Baddiel and McMillan who failed to grasp the explanation of the difference between volts and amps (I don't know how as it was clear, concise, and non-technical). Maybe some folk just close their minds to some things they don't think they want to know about?

Melvyn Bragg displays an open mind in his enquiries into scientific subjects while freely admitting his background is in the arts. Well done him!

Brian Cox is a 'Marmite' scientific presenter. I think he has that ability to explain complex ideas in an understandable way, but some people I know just can't stand his 'grinning' style.

Didn't R. J. Mitchell say "if you can't explain something, no matter how complex, in language your gardener can understand, it's probably bollocks"?

Not sure I agree. Apart from the paucity of employed gardeners in most households today, I know quite a few clever people who certainly understand complex subjects, but are not gifted in putting it across in the way Rees is.

Flying Lawyer
12th Jan 2015, 20:37
Thanks rgb.
The two most active threads at the moment are not my kind of discussion so I've mainly steered clear. ;)


SSD
Not quite.

R J Mitchell said: 'If anybody ever tells you anything about an aeroplane which is so bloody complicated you can't understand it, take it from me, it's all balls.'

When quoted without context, which it usually is, the statement is clearly nonsense.

The context was a conversation during prototype trials between Mitchell and Jeffrey Quill, the second pilot to fly the Spitfire and later Chief Test Pilot.
Mitchell was referring to his engineering staff.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
12th Jan 2015, 21:03
No gardener, then. Wonder where I got that from?

Gertrude the Wombat
12th Jan 2015, 21:10
Agree re Melvyn Bragg, and thought he deserved being made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society.
I'm afraid I'm not entirely sure I agree here.

He always slows down his guests and insists that they dumb down and slow down the discussion to the point that anyone who actually has a few science A levels and reads the occasional summaries of research papers isn't going to get anything much from it (I'm not talking professional scientists here, just people who were mostly awake at school). By the end of the programme he's nearly letting his guests get to something interesting and new that you didn't already know.

But maybe we're not his target audience, maybe he's after the "proud to be ignorant" brigade, in which case good luck to him (seriously).

Fox3WheresMyBanana
12th Jan 2015, 22:04
True-ish Gertrude; but where they cover topics I know about, there are usually several new facts or points of emphasis that you get from the pretty high quality of presenters he gets. Also, the podcasts often have an extra 15 minutes of chat before the teaboy arrives, which does often contain the good stuff.

axefurabz
12th Jan 2015, 22:40
Also, the podcasts often have an extra 15 minutes of chat before the teaboy arrives

That's useful to know - ta!

Viola
13th Jan 2015, 20:55
Vast majority of politicians don't have science degrees - History, Law, PPE, English, Economics, Anthropology, Classics, etc.

Though politicians talk about the importance of science and maths, they are often keen for children to learn topics THEY were interested in.

In the 'media' people are likely to get on if they can speak and write well, so are more likely to be 'literary coves'. There aren't many scientific role models in the media for children.

Tankertrashnav
13th Jan 2015, 23:32
Vast majority of politicians don't have science degrees

One notable exception had a chemistry BSc fom Oxford - she did rather well (although K & C might disagree ;))

From her Wiki entry

She was reportedly more proud of becoming the first Prime Minister with a science degree than the first female Prime Minister

Gertrude the Wombat
13th Jan 2015, 23:35
Vast majority of politicians don't have science degrees - History, Law, PPE, English, Economics, Anthropology, Classics, etc.
There are some exceptions, Julian Huppert - MP for Cambridge (http://www.cambridgelibdems.org.uk/) for one (and that's me in the crowd scene holding up "EVIDENCE LED POLICY").

Tankertrashnav
13th Jan 2015, 23:43
In the programme I've Never Seen Star Wars on Radio 4 this evening, the actress Rebecca Front (The Thick of It, Lewis etc), confessed that she was ashamed of her ignorance of science, which she thought was typical of the acting profession, and said she would like to do something about it. They set her the task of reading Paradox - The Nine Greatest Enigmas in History by Jim Al Khallili. She set to it gamely but had to admit that even though she attempted all nine chapters she got bogged down in each one and didnt really understand any of it. Trying to run before you can walk springs to mind, but at least she acknowledged the problem and had a go.

Krystal n chips
14th Jan 2015, 06:14
"she did rather well ".....

Indeed she did TTN.....although it depends on how you wish to quantify success of course.;)

That said, I always felt the science background was more than relevant to her intrinsic nature....take, for example, one cauldron and...

"Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."

Shaggy Sheep Driver
14th Jan 2015, 09:31
She kind of got Olbers' Paradox (why is the sky dark at night?) but it had eluded her when she tried to explain it.

She was up for the motorbike, though! Game girl!

Cornish Jack
14th Jan 2015, 14:38
One notable exception had a chemistry BSc fom Oxford ... but was, from biographical report, totally undistinguished in its application and so irritated Academe as to be refused an Honorary version.
As to M Bragg, I'll go with G t W and add my own grumble that the BBC is becoming the Bragg Broadcasting Circus!:* Far too much of him by a long chalk!:p

fitliker
14th Jan 2015, 15:38
The sky is not always dark at night, Starlight can be bright enough for some folks who like to look up.