Brian Cox, Martin Rees and others say public perception of science has changed for the better
From Brian Cox:
Over the last few years, I have definitely noticed a shift in the public’s attitude towards science: from viewing it as a useful sideline in society – a valuable pursuit for the boffinous few, that ultimately looks after itself – to a cause worth fighting for, which has the power to change society for the better.
No sensible person or politician has ever argued that science is not useful, but many take its contribution for granted. Did you know, for example, that Britain’s entire science budget was £3.3bn last year, out of a total government spend of £621bn? And that physics-based industry alone contributes 6.4% of our GDP – comparable to the much vaunted and rather more costly financial services sector – yet no party is committed to protecting it after the next election?
A growing appreciation of the low-cost, high-value and good old-fashioned solidity of science and engineering relative to finance has, I believe, contributed to the new public mood, but as with all paradigmatic cultural shifts, there is more to it. Simon Singh’s libel tussle with the British Chiropractic Association has brought together an unusual alliance of comedians and scientists in support of a broad, rationalist agenda. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has been a rollercoaster ride of success and engineering difficulty, but the sheer ambition and scale of the project has fired the imagination of many. The dramatic pictures of the Martian surface from the Opportunity and Spirit rovers, and the unparallelled beauty of Saturn and its moons as seen by the ongoing Cassini mission, grace a million computer screensavers.
This confluence of factors has seeded a fragile but strengthening movement.
Continues at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/apr/13/science-cool
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]Brian Cox, Martin Rees and others say public perception of science has changed for the better,