Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Comedy Central: better science than the Science Channel?

Zapperz wrote an interesting post that links to an article in USA Today about whether Comedy Central (specifically The Daily Show and The Colbert Report) give some of the best real science coverage on television.  They bring on actual scientists (Neil Degrasse Tyson, Sean Carroll, Brian Greene, Lisa Randall, Steven Chu, Bob Park (!)) and have conversations with them that last more than a 30 second sound bite.  I notice that there are no nano folks on the guest lists for either show over the last couple of years.  Clearly this is a clarion call to write a general audience book and try to go on there to promote it; either that, or to try and be their go-to person to debunk outrageous claims about nanotechnological dystopias.

8 comments:

Uncle Al said...

The worst possible "nanotechnological dystopia" is one day's FT microwave spectrometry away at 45 latitude. Fill the vacuum sample cell with a torr of mixed paired and anti-paired molecular rotors. If spin state populations diverge with a diurnal pattern... a broad swath of fundamental physical theory validated by photons is falsified by opposite geometric parity atomic mass distributions.

http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/twisten2.png

Somebody should look.

Paul said...

Do it! It would be great to get some more CM and AMO people in the media.

DanM said...

Um... having read Al's post, I am now doubting that I know the meaning of the word "dystopia." Or that he does. Dystopias are supposed to be bad, right? In any event, I vote for Doug as official Daily Show go-to-guy.

Doug Natelson said...

Al, many people in the atomic physics world do ridiculously sensitive measurements of atoms with spin, and others work with molecules. I'm pretty sure that large effects of the type you mention would have been noticed before now.

Thanks, Paul and Dan! I'd love the chance to be a CM/nano talking head, but somehow I doubt the producers of either show read this blog....

JD said...

I'm a 'general audience' reader - not a scientist, but find nanotechnology interesting. If there is a general audience book already out there, please advise. Otherwise I'd like to add my voice to the 'clarion call.'

Uncle Al said...

Doug, it's great nanotech - the smallest pair of propellers mounted on opposite ends of a short rigid axle being spun by passage through an unsuspected vacuum background. 24 hrs at an FT microwave spectrometer could selectively ding physics without contradicting prior observation.

Vacuum propellers are notoriously non-physical (arxiv:0912.1031v1). Physics is blind to chemistry. Maximum effect at local 0600 and 1800 hrs at 45 latitude (Earth's inertial spin vs. gravitational solar orbit).

J. Math. Phys. 40(9) 4587 (1999). Zwitterion phenylalanine in vacuum calculates CHI = 0.112. The homochiral bipropeller is CHI = 0.462 and twistane itself CHI = 0.709. CHI = 1 is perfect parity divergence between enantiomers. Physics cannot do better in vacuum.

Somebody should look.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow also had several scientists and physicists on the show, an is catching up to Comedy Central. This is a big deal and encouraging because Rachel Maddow's show is actually a prime-time news-magazine journalistic show.

The crying shame here is how the Science Channel (and the Discovery channel, TLC, etc) has been perverted away from science. I recall the Discovery channel and TLC actually being somewhat decent 15 years ago with regards to science.

Paul said...

Well, Uncle Al, you can be that somebody.