Science and the Public 2007
The second and very worthwhile Science and the Public conference was held yesterday at Imperial College. Like last year, the day was an opportunity to hear and mix with a great diversity of people. thanks Alice and Sarah!
Some talks of note included Justin Dillon's presentation of a project (by Materials Library/Kings College London/Goldsmiths/Tate Modern) to promote public engagement with materials via art: a series of hands-on science-themed activities set within the Tate Modern. These contributed to a later Tate Modern ipod tour which I am looking forward to taking myself.
The Art and Science session as a whole spurred some thoughtful debate about roles and interactions amongst people in fine art, technology and the sciences. Next talk of note, though of course I am biased, was Annegrete's always interesting proposition to improve the graphic design of generic textbook diagrams of closed-loop cycles such as those of carbon and nitrogen. Nicely done AG!
I also enjoyed James Sumner's somewhat bombastic and lively exposition of the fallacies of the 'digital divide', and look forward to hearing more about that work. Alice's engaging talk was part of another session that brought us into the realm of science in popular culture. Describing the contemporary diversity of narrative structures in children's scifi/fantasy literature and other media, her discussion of different shades of pre- an post-industrial tech/nostalgia will bring me to decipher these like a real cultural critic the next time I go see a children's film (yes, I do enjoy the odd animated feature!) I won't spill too many beans about Alice's theories here as she may be happier doing this herself.
My only gripe about the day was that the simultaneous tracks inevitably meant having to miss quite a lot of appealing stuff. Otherwise it was well worth it, and I do hope this event can happen again next year!