Science was once seen as a dull subject, reserved to research papers and mad scientists with a penchant for pyromania. Now The Big Bang Theory is one of the most popular comedy programmes in America, geek chic is now a style to be emulated, and the amount students studying science degrees is higher than ever. Such an increase in popularity could be due to how widely science is now represented in the media.
‘I Fucking Love Science’ is a Facebook group created by the former science student Elise Andrews. By combining science news, memes, nerdy jokes, facts and interesting images, Andrews aims to keep the page a blend of the serious and light hearted. The page was created in March 2012 and now has over 7.2 million likes, as well as its own dedicated YouTube channel.
Does the rapid output of science in the media mean the end to the traditional means of publishing research?
YouTube has also become a platform for viewing science. The AsapScience channel has over a million subscribers and aims to make science fun by answering its viewers burning science questions. TED (technology, entertainment, design) holds conferences led by the world’s leading thinkers, which are free to watch online.
The TED talks have over 1 billion views. Even astronauts are vlogging about their lives from space. Chris Hadfield and Karen Nyberg have posted videos including how to wash your hands, sleep, wash long hair, make a sandwich and even vomit in space.
Science is no longer limited to those who study a science degree.
Due to the increasing use of social media, science has seen a surge in popularity. Once upon a time, in order to find out about the latest science news and research, you either had to be taught it or actively seek it out. Science is no longer limited to those who study a science degree, but can reach a much larger audience.
By portraying it in a quirky, fun way that aims to engage all audiences, social media has managed to successfully promote science. With so many people now using different forms of social media there is the potential to reach more people than ever before.
Science was once seen as a dull subject, reserved to research papers and mad scientists with a penchant for pyromania.
However, does the rapid output of science in the media mean the end to the traditional means of publishing research? Perhaps the days of waiting to get science published are becoming outdated when research and news can be uploaded within minutes and seen by a much wider audience.
To appear in a journal the science must be verified by professionals in the field, but anything can appear on the Internet. It could be argued that the growth of science in social media could diminish its quality. To be interesting to so many people on such a large scale, science has to be understandable; but does this mean it has to be dumbed down?
Due to the increasing use of social media, science has seen a surge in popularity.
Science journalist Mike Swain spoke to Impact about the tendency to simplify science in the media: “Readers understand more than people think. Both media and scientists underestimate what readers understand”.
Despite the risks to its quality, the rise of science in social media means it is now able to reach more people than ever. Whatever your knowledge of science may be, you can now enjoy your pick of either the latest research, an astronaut washing their hair or even a meme of a scientific cat, all on your computer screen.
Images: I Fucking Love Science