Science is cool. I know that, and you know that. But how do we get other people to know it too?
We need to market it. I don't mean we need to dumb it down, or slap a coat of paint on it or anything like that. But what we can and should do is tie it in with stuff the public already likes, and give it some associated cool. And what's the coolest thing of all?
Rock and roll, baby.
Thus, Rock Stars of Science. This was an effort started last year by the designer Geoffrey Beene, who honestly loves science. He sponsored articles and some great photo shoots featuring scientists fooling around with rock musicians. 100% of the proceeds went to charity like medical science research. My Discover Magazine co-blogger and buddy Chris Mooney is also behind this event (he wrote about it last year) because, like so many of us, he's passionate about science and about getting the public to love it as much as we do.
So it's happening again this year: 17 scientists* are posing with rock stars (including Debbie Harry, B.o.B., and Keri Hilson), and an article about it will be in the December issue of GQ. I love these quotes:
Says Rock icon Debbie Harry of the scientific lifestyle: "You have to be very tenacious, very dedicated. And that kind of mind, that kind of specialness is incredible, and we should all be aware of it." Another featured artist, Jay Sean (@jaysean), commented: "I went on to study medicine. I was halfway through my degree; it's when my first record deal presented itself...But I'll always be a fan of science."
And the photos of the scientist and musicians are amazing. How can you not love a picture like this?
I can only wish I were that cool. And yes, I am insanely jealous. I love Heart, and had a bit of a crush on both Ann and Nancy Wilson when I was in high school. And, um, maybe I still do, a little. But c'mon! Barracuda! Crazy On You! Magic Man! Awesome sauce.
And that's exactly how we should be thinking of leading scientists, too.
That's why I support this campaign. I certainly know how cool a lot of scientists are, and how amazing their work can be. In the geek community we cherish these men and women. It's about time that attitude spread to the world at large.
* I will note that one of the scientists in the shoot is Mehmat Oz, also known as Dr. Oz. Although he is in many ways a man of science, he is also a believer in a lot of New Age nonsense, as Dr. Steve Novella points out. Given my druthers, he'd have been left out of this. But the other scientists are top-notch researchers and Nobel laureates, so I'm willing to overlook this one oversight.