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Tomorrow's Science Heroes?

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the mister-wizard-reincarnated dept.

Education 799

An anonymous reader writes "As a kid I was (and still am) heavily influenced by Carl Sagan, and a little later by Stephen Hawking. Now as I have started a family with two kids, currently age 5 and 2, I am wondering who out there is popularizing science. Currently, my wife and I can get the kids excited about the world around them, but I'd like to find someone inspiring from outside the family as they get older. Sure, we'll always have 'Cosmos,' but are there any contemporaries who are trying to bring science into the public view in such a fun and intriguing way? Someone the kids can look up to and be inspired by? Where is the next Science Hero?"

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Tyson (5, Interesting)

melikamp (631205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685413)

I am currently going through a Neil deGrasse Tyson phase.

Re:Tyson (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685537)

Michio Kaku, physics professor, public speaker, writer and very entertaining to watch. I picked up his book, Hyperspace, while I was still in high school and later saw him a few times on Tech TV's Big Thinkers before G4 killed the network.

Re:Tyson (1)

Atriqus (826899) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685601)

If he manages to write down a single equation we can actually test within the next few generations, then maybe. :D

Re:Tyson (5, Insightful)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685553)

I'd go with Neil too. While not as nerdy as previous generations' "science guys", he really does have a passion for science and seems genuinely interested in spreading the love.

And Nova Science Now is a great show for the kids.

Smirking Pluto Killer - Not My Favorite (1, Troll)

gadlaw (562280) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685731)

I dislike that Neil deGrasse guy, he was quite the smirking "I'm smart and you're not" during that whole Pluto isn't a planet anymore crap. I'm with Michio Kaku as my favorite science enthusiast and speaker. He's smart, he's enthused and he didn't go around on the Tonight Show smirking about how Pluto isn't a planet. I'm also looking to punch whoever it was that decided Brontosaurus wasn't a proper name for the Brontosaurus too. (shakes fist in fury)

Re:Smirking Pluto Killer - Not My Favorite (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685771)

:) I hope you are not going to try and punch Neil, a former captain of a wrestling team.

Re:Smirking Pluto Killer - Not My Favorite (3, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685819)

Ignorance is bliss? He was dead on about Pluto, people got all emotional about a LARGE HUNK OF ICE. Would you rather scientists just ignore stuff like that and play up to popular opinion? He was smirking because he knows how stupid the 'debate' is. I liked it even better when he kind of put what Branson does into perspective and how the two of them really arent relational in anyway. LEO is a joke compared to what Tyson thinks about in terms of space travel. Im not disparaging Sir Richard Branson or the work he does in ANY WAY, but it was a good perspective.

Re:Smirking Pluto Killer - Not My Favorite (4, Interesting)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685845)

I dislike that Neil deGrasse guy, he was quite the smirking "I'm smart and you're not" during that whole Pluto isn't a planet anymore crap. I'm with Michio Kaku as my favorite science enthusiast and speaker. He's smart, he's enthused and he didn't go around on the Tonight Show smirking about how Pluto isn't a planet. I'm also looking to punch whoever it was that decided Brontosaurus wasn't a proper name for the Brontosaurus too. (shakes fist in fury)

You're a little late on that one. The peer-reviewed paper that showed that the "brontosaurus" was really an apatosaur was published in 1903.

I'm a Michio Kaku fan, too and have been since I read his book Hyperspace 15 years ago.

Richard Dawkins (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685415)

I'm 19, and Dawkins has been an enormous influence on me. A few years back he was one of figures that helped me jetisson religion, and ever since I've had a greater curiousity about science.

Re:Richard Dawkins (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685441)

You know, there are a lot of people who don't have a problem combining religion and science... so I don't see how that part of your comment has anything to do with anything...

Re:Richard Dawkins (2, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685457)

You know, there are a lot of people who don't have a problem combining religion and science

and there are those who think.


Sorry, No. (4, Insightful)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685473)

Religion and Science are 100% incompatible. Religion = "I Believe", Science = "I can show/demonstrate/repeat". These two ways of looking at the world are not, and never will be, compatible. Those who "combine" the two really are saying, "I believe this or that, but, I can't completely ignore this incontrovertible evidence over here, but, for anything else, I'll just BELIEVE!" Horse-Puckey!

Re:Sorry, No. (4, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685609)

It's really sad how ignorant of theology people are today. Sigh. I bet you can't even name the school of thought that you're advocating.

And unsurprising about the intolerance shown, too. Ignorance and bigotry go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Re:Sorry, No. (1, Insightful)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685795)

Your post is a great example of all theology.

I.e. a stupid masturbating around ideas which lost credibility hundred years ago mixed with ignorance and spiced with ad-hominems.

Pray tell me, what is a an error of a grandparent? Science and religion ARE incompatible. Science investigates the real world, while religion 'investigates' mostly itself - religion is not linked with reality.

Oh, of course a scientist can be religious. But this only shows that humans are perfectly capable to glance over contradictions.

Re:Sorry, No. (2, Interesting)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685621)

BZZT. False. Science rests on the belief that order and rationality exist in the universe. The prerequisite of "I can show/demonstrate/repeat" is a faith that the universe is not chaotic, and that if I drop an apple and it fell 100 times that last 100 times I tried it, there's a damn small chance it'll hover the next time. And it's a real leap of faith to extrapolate the order to the timescale of billions of years, as is common practice in computing things like the Hubble Constant, and modeling evolution by natural selection and random variation of traits over hundreds of generations. We geeks share this faith in an ordered universe. Except that pinko atheists scream bloody murder about religion while making this substantive leap of faith, and normal people like me conclude that God wrote the immutable laws of mathematics and physics.

Re:Sorry, No. (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685859)

NO, a law in science is NOT an absolute truth, it's only a theory which has never been proved to be wrong.

Several general properties of physical laws have been identified (see Davies (1992) and Feynman (1965) as noted, although each of the characterizations are not necessarily original to them. Physical laws are:

        * True, at least within their regime of validity. By definition, there have never been repeatable contradicting observations.
        * Universal. They appear to apply everywhere in the universe. (Davies, 1992:82)

"And it's a real leap of faith to extrapolate the order to the timescale of billions of years, as is common practice in computing things like the Hubble Constant, and modeling evolution by natural selection and random variation of traits over hundreds of generations."
It's not a leap of faith, it's like using 3.14 for PI. It's the best approximation we can make based on the measured data.

Re:Sorry, No. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685625)

Einstein believed in God. If one the greatest scientific minds ever to exist can believe in something that can't be proven, then I've got no problem believing science and religion can coexist. Aside from that, many scholars, scientists and philosophers were religious if not actually members of the church.

Re:Sorry, No. (3, Interesting)

infaustus (936456) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685663)

Einstein's belief in God is what lead him to make his stupid "God doesn't play dice" comment. If one of the greatest scientific minds ever to exist can be crippled by religion, then I have good evidence science and religion are incompatible.

Re:Sorry, No. (1)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685699)

"God doesn't play dice" is a lament that the universe is not as predictable as we thought it was prior to the development of modern quantum mechanics by Schroedinger, Dirac, Feynman, et al. It actually expresses preference for a universe that's more easily mastered by science, not less.

Re:Sorry, No. (3, Informative)

TiberSeptm (889423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685793)

No, it was an outright refusal to accept quantum physics as a anything but a curiosity - an interesting but ultimately fruitless dead end. Unto the day he died Einstein refused to accept that the quantum physics explanation of the sub atomic world was any more science than aether. He even coined the term "sooky action at a distance" before it was observed in an attempt to derride the ridiculousness of that particular consequence of the quantum model. While his extrapolation on the idea of entanglement and quantum teleportation were meant to demonstrate how ridiculous quantum theory was, it ended up being the basis for experiments that proved the theory valid. It was not a simple "lament" as Einstein never considered the non-quantum past of physics to be "the past." He was quite blinded by this refusal.

Re:Sorry, No. (1)

The Yuckinator (898499) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685743)

"From the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist.... I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our being."

Einstein did not believe in a personal god. []

Re:Sorry, No. (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685807)

Nope. Einstein was a Christian/Jewish atheist - he did not believe in a personal god.

Re:Sorry, No. (1, Flamebait)

melikamp (631205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685667)

Religion and Science are 100% incompatible. Religion = "I Believe", Science = "I can show/demonstrate/repeat".

This is exactly the kind of a dumb-ass comment that prevents a dialog from happening. I suggest that you start by re-reading all Dawkins just to make sure that he never says anything even remotely resembling your... I can only describe it as a cognitive equivalent of a premature ejaculation.

Re:Sorry, Yes (2, Insightful)

nicholdraper (1053972) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685671)

Maybe the religions you have been introduced to are incompatible with science. But, there is a lot of science that cannot be shown/demonstraited/repeated. Do you not know of the heisenberg uncertainty principle. Do you not know that many scientific discoveries were postulates before they could be proven? What about all the postulates that are proven wrong? What about the particle theory of light and the wave theory of light, should you not study them, because one theory seems to contradict another? Many people believe in religion as what it is claimed, faith is not something you can prove, but I believe that being kind to fellow human beings will bring me a reward, am I deluded? Possibly, but isn't it worth testing the theory out during my short life-time. If it is a theory that proves to be false, I still believe that for the space of my human life that I will be better off. Do you refuse to use the equations for Newtonian Physics because they are only valid for objects around the mass of things we use everyday and not for very small or very large objects? So, you still maintain that there is not reason to follow religious beliefs because God hasn't knocked on your door? The golden rule do unto others as you would have done to you is bogus because your limited knowledge of religion cannot be met? Yes you are better off without religion and without science, because, you don't believe in science, you only believe in known science. You're not much better than the people who wouldn't believe the world was a sphere because you couldn't see the whole of it in your day. I am very religious, I see no conflict between religion and the theory of evolution, Darwin was a Monk and prayed every day, how do you think he was able to get past the limited scientific views of his day and propose a theory that has since had so many proof? If I didn't believe in God, I wouldn't feel so strongly that we can successfully clone humans, full or parts to solve some of the defects in our physical bodies. Does that shock you that religious people not only believe in science, but that religion encourages that belief? I went to a religious university, the professors there said God wants us to learn these things, that is why we are here.

Re:Sorry, Yes (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685757)

Honestly, to all openly religious people who consider yourself modern thinkers (at least the ones that read slashdot), you need to start to separate yourselves from the religious people who believe in an endgame. Not to quote a hideous documentary, but humanity will never survive until we get over the psychological addiction to hoping for an end to it all.

Re:Sorry, No. (2, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685691)

Well... yes and no. One way in which religion and science can co-exist is if you believe in the god of the gaps [] . What can adequately be explained by your empirical model of the world is the domain of science and nature. Everything else, "a wizard did it". To our earliest ancestors, everything was supernatural because their understanding of nature was incredibly limited. To cavemen, fire was understood (to a degree) but thunder and lightning were the province of the gods. Today, most of our world is understood and thus strictly natural, but there are still things (what 'happens to us' after we die, for instance) that are in the hands of the gods. Maybe tomorrow, we will understand the human soul as a measurable, analysable entity, but we will see divinity in quantum uncertainty or something equally esoteric.

I believe what you're talking about with the "I believe this based on faith, therefore I won't accept evidence to the contrary" is doctrine rather than religion as a whole. And there, I agree with you.

Re:Sorry, No. (1)

Dr. LeRoy (104954) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685725)

To be more factually accurate:

Religion = Rules & Rituals

Faith= "I Believe"

Science used to tell us the Earth was flat and the Sun revolved around us. Sure took a lot of faith to swallow that.

Arrogance diminishes wisdom.
Arabian proverb

Re:Sorry, No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685801)

Arrogance diminishes wisdom.
Arabian proverb

I lol'd.

Re:Sorry, No. (3, Insightful)

tnok85 (1434319) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685737)

Science is no more incompatible with say, Christianity, than Buddhism is with Judaism. Or cars are with submarines.

People are incompatible. There is no scientific proof (that I know of) that proves there is a god or that there is no god. There is no reason that I cannot believe in evolution and still believe in a god, or believe that we have souls.

Yes, it is a belief, it is not the proof/fact of evolution, it is STILL referred to as the Theory of Evolution. Not getting into that debate, even though a theory does have a lot of evidence, unless it's provable it's still a theory and it takes a belief system to have an infallible trust in something that is a theory. (Yes, some aspects of evolution are considered fact by the scientific community, but not the retarded monkey fish frog aspect)

I think the major incompatibilities come when trying to force a belief on somebody. It is no more right to force a theory as fact as it is right to force your god on me.

Frankly, I think it's our right to believe that the earth is flat, gravity is caused by invisible silly putty, and Slashdot is a place to get reliable and up to date unbiased news.

However, it is insulting to people when instead of just saying "I believe this", you say "I believe this so your belief is wrong" - which both sides of the debate do. Just let people be... you'll never change them.

Re:Sorry, No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685821)

I would never say they are incompatible, since one deals with ones spiritual and the other is the physical. The way I put it is science is man's understanding of the universe in which God created.

Besides anyone who has ever done a scientific experiment knows that it's never as simple as "I can show/demonstrate/repeat" Do an experiment twice and the chances are very likely that you won't get the same results.

Re:Richard Dawkins (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685605)

I second this. I think that Dawkins is really witty and funny; in fact, I am reading A Devil's Chaplain right now and loving it. But he is not the first person I think of when it comes to popularizing scientific discoveries (although he left a mark with The Selfish Gene), he is more of an anti-religious zealot with a boner for Darwin. He is an apologist for Science, which is somewhat ironic if you think of Apologetics as a traditionally Christian genre.

Re:Richard Dawkins (2, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685769)

Not very many scientists are religious: [] Those that are do have a problem, they just choose to ignore it.

I assure you God is real, Jesus is Lord! I know. (-1, Offtopic)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685853)

There is no conflict between science and religion when you realize that a day for God can be any length of time. The Hebrew word Yom used to denote day is also used to denote thousands of years or eternity in other places in the scriptures. Look up the Long Day Theory or Theistic Evolution. It is the cooks who think evolution is a threat to Christianity that do most of the harm to pushing away people who would otherwise be believers.

I'm very serious about God as would anyone who realizes that God is real. You can't take a serious matter such as God and treat it trivially or foolish even though I've seen many people who do it. I think there is a pervading wind in youth culture that tries to deride believers. Instead of engaging believers rationally, the insults and old jokes are hurled. For many people, it simply isn't the cool thing to be a Christian. This is similar to idiots in high school that thing education isn't a cool thing either.

Everyone knows my website where I tell people God is real is at: []

If you're interested in articles I write about ancient truths for modern living, please visit: []

Some people are religious zealots through belief, but I'm a zealot through knowledge. I try and get to many places on the web: mass email, twitter, forums, even video games. Anywhere there is people, I'm going around telling people God is real. This is how God wanted it to happen too. Structurally it is said that God likes to see the thoughts of people as they're preached to through his followers. Yes, God reads your thoughts. And when you become a believer, you even change the way you think as to become pleasing to him. Its all pretty radical stuff, but its all good, God is generous, rewarding, loving, compassionate, and he's the only being that knows you completely. God will be with us for eternity. When you start thinking of Heaven as being a place where anything is possible, and that God is more creative than any human, and that he wants us to enjoy time, it is just more than imagination. And it is truth.

Mythbusters does it (4, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685421)

They teach the heart of the Scientific Method and show it as being FUN. Test the hypothesis - then retest it, just like Jaime and Adam do every episode.

Re:Mythbusters does it (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685439)

That's how you know they're doing it wrong. Science isn't fun. It's tedious.

Re:Mythbusters does it (2, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685813)

You sound like one of those whiny grad students I instructed to run 15,000 cDNA array blots while I attend a very important conference somewhere sunny...

Wait. Who let you out of the lab?

Re:Mythbusters does it (4, Insightful)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685471)

Yes. Mythbusters is perfect! Teach them to jump to conclusions based on extremely small data sets and horribly designed/non-existent control objects.

Re:Mythbusters does it (2, Insightful)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685481)

(and don't get me wrong... I love mythbusters... it's just that "scientists" isn't how I'd describe them).

Re:Mythbusters does it (2, Insightful)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685557)

At least they GET data rather than just basing their opinions what they're fed. Honestly, when was the last time you did a thorough scientific experiment in your personal life? I think that personal science involves questioning the status quo, not accepting everything at face value, and figuring out how to answer your questions. Simply because your methods wouldn't stand up to rigorous testing doesn't mean that you can't use it to make good decisions. Ultimately I think that is the role of science in peoples lives, to answer questions and aid in decisions.

While I don't always agree with the mythbuster's methods, at least they don't sit around waiting for the talking heads to hand down the truth from on high. The scientific spirit of the program is strong if the flesh is sometimes weak.

P.S. Relying entirely on mythbusters for your science is just as bad as blindly believing the news (New study! Polyester socks triple your risk factor for big left toe cuticle cancer (from .000000003% to .000000009%) so avoid cotton/poly blends like the plague! (they also make you fat and are linked to male pattern baldness!!!)) /sarcasm

Re:Mythbusters does it (1)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685779)

They used to be more principled in conducting their experiments. Then they started making big bucks and ran out of ideas trying to milk it with nonrepeatable stunts.

Re:Mythbusters does it (1)

troutinator (943529) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685847)

Honestly, when was the last time you did a thorough scientific experiment in your personal life?

As a researcher every day pretty much, lol.

Re:Mythbusters does it (4, Insightful)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685573)

There's an XKCD for that: []

Re:Mythbusters does it (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685647)

whine more...

Re:Mythbusters does it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685705)

When a positive hypothetical is put forward, it only takes one example to the contrary to prove it false. This is called a ... counterexample. And I am a statistician so please don't bring up sample size.

Re:Mythbusters does it (2, Insightful)

StoneDog (28523) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685767)

I must disagree with this analysis. I have watched every episode, including out-takes and a lot of extra footage. They do indeed do controls and a large number of trials for their experiments. They constantly complain of the limits imposed by the 1-hour time requirements. It is clearly not lab work as it really exists, but as someone who has done real grinding work in the lab, I don't think that there is any better way of killing a love for science in little kids than trying to convince them that repeating an experiment 100 times is fun.

Ages 2 and 5 are a time for wonder and magic. It is not the time to wow them with the scientific method. It works better than any other way of knowing, but it is *not* sexy.

Re:Mythbusters does it (1)

jhmorris8541 (981083) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685777)

Mythbusters it TV. It is for entertainment purposes, not science. I look at it as a way to get kids interested in science and engineering, not teach them science or engineering.

Re:Mythbusters does it (3, Insightful)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685789)

In Australian (specifically the state of Queensland) high schools, they like to teach kids to think "scientifically", and "design their own experiments", then write a 60 page report, plus a log book, and sometimes a poster. The kids just don't have the scientific maturity to design a correct experiment (i.e. statistically significant), but they do a bang-up job on the report. All neat, good grammar, pretty graphs and diagrams.

They don't enjoy it much (a 60 page report is honors thesis territory) and they aren't really learning any more science than if they watched Mythbusters, but at least they are able to generate a lot of paper for their teachers to mark.

A word of warning - never let education academics with no teaching or real world experience take control of the education system.

Re:Mythbusters does it (3, Interesting)

Weedhopper (168515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685491)

It still generates interest and gets kids thinking so Mythbusters gets a thumbs up from me but let's not pretend like they're rigorous. I wish they'd do more end of the show disclaimers ; things they did right/wrong, etc. Science isn't science if you're not considering all the faults and sources of error in your experiments.

Re:Mythbusters does it (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685495)

2nd'ed. My son has loved that show since he was around 6. However, they do show a lot of explosions and potentially dangerous experiments that may encourage kids to take scary risks. A long talk is in order before-hand.

Re:Mythbusters does it (1, Flamebait)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685837)

They teach the heart of the Scientific Method and show it as being FUN. Test the hypothesis - then retest it, just like Jaime and Adam do every episode.

I realise this will be modded down but it has to be said - the Mythbusters are a horrible, horrible influence. They demonstrate the misuse and sloppy application of the scientific method, and how to jump to a generalised conclusion based on insufficient evidence. Many if not most of their shows should end with "insufficient data", not "busted", "proven" and "plausible".

They are good entertainment value if you like to see wild ideas tested or see things blown up, but I honestly believe that introducing kids to such sloppy science does more harm than good.

Now watch me get modded down by fans of all things blown up.

Meteorologists (1)

perlhacker14 (1056902) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685427)

With all this buzz about climate change being thrown about, you can't go wrong there. ;)
Besides, they tend to visit schools, and have a high level of visibility and impact.

On a serious note, Stephing Hawking and Carl Sagan are still around, right? So why do you need new heroes?

Re:Meteorologists (2, Informative)

Wiscocrew (1254242) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685459)

Carl Sagan died in 1996.

Re:Meteorologists (5, Insightful)

100_Monkeys_Typing (662396) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685523)

Sorta makes me sad that Carl Sagan isn't around anymore and apparently no one noticed. Some pop star kicks the bucket and the world comes to a grinding halt. :(

Sagan != science hero (4, Insightful)

myowntrueself (607117) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685851)

Sagan used to be my science hero, when I was a kid and I watched a regular show of his on TV.

Then one show I was watching there was some topic about visits from extraterrestrials, interstellar travel etc.

Carl came out and said "There is no possibility of visits from other worlds. The distances involved are so great that it would take thousands of years for them to get to our solar system."

My jaw dropped at that statement. Up to that point I had thought he was an imaginative and intelligent guy.

Evidently he could not conceive of alien beings for whom thousands of years was a very short time and who could even make such a journey 'just for the hell of it'.

For him this was completely impossible, inconceivable.

Thats pretty sad for a guy with his reputation.

Re:Meteorologists (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685595)

Most "meteorologists" are local hacks working for TV stations who have passed 2-week-long weather reporting school and get all their data from NOAA anyway. They do not have careers in science at all. On the contrary, their ambition is to become TV anchorman.

I would hardly call your typical local TV "meteorologist" a good example of a science teacher.

How about Al ? (1)

bricko (1052210) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685433)

Al Gore and Jim Hansen......heh.

Hrmm (1)

acehole (174372) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685443)

If only there was a "Science Man" cartoon. Fighting the delusional forces of creationism. Curb stomping his nemesis Dr Dino and able to calculate PI to 30 digits. All while working at the LHC in his secret janitor identity.

Re:Hrmm (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685559)

Fighting the delusional forces of creationism.

That's a tough subject, even for adults. There's no slam-dunk pieces of evidence that are blatantly visible and there's a creationist retort for almost any piece of evidence offered. However, it may help kids understand that there are complex topics with so many variables that simple measurements or simple experiments are no longer sufficient and that debates on such topics can be tricky, lively, heated, but also fun. (The same with economics, history, and psychology.)

Take them to the Creationist Museum (-1, Troll)

grub (11606) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685449)

They'll learn all about the Earth remarkable 6000 year journey from nothingness to the present day and how baby dinosaurs were on Noah's Ark. You know... science!


Re:Take them to the Creationist Museum (1)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685583)

Take them to the creationist museum when they are a little older.
I am sure they would be bright enough by the time they are 3
to underanstand and see the rediculous

BILL BILL BILL (5, Insightful)

sherl0k (1215370) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685455)

Bill Nye.


Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685487)

Bill Nye.

Dittos on Bill Nye. I'm not all that into the "green" thing, like his current show is, but he's good, entertaining, and appeals to kids.

Bill and Magic Schoolbus FTW (1)

jnmontario (865369) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685591)

I have to agree. Kids love nothing more in high school science than to sit down and watch an episode or two of Bill Nye. Plus, the added bonus is that his more adult themed shows (The Eye of Science) for kids slightly older than the targeted segment of the original series. Also, I'm stunned at how much Magic Schoolbus comes up in conversations with my children about our world. With topics ranging from the digestive system to how heat transfers between objects good old M.S. can captivate your kids and teach them to appreciate learning about natural systems and processes.


nobdoor (1496229) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685603)

Bill Nye was too much of a straight up dweeb for me. I preferred Beakman's World. The huge rat and weird-girl made a good sidekick duo.

And dudes, don't forget Mr Wizzard!


Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685619)

Is Bill Nye still doing shows? I haven't seen him in a long time.

Grid knows we can use more "Mr. Science" types on TV. That is one reason that of all the cooking shows on the food channel, I like "Good Eats" the best, because they at least make an attempt to put some real history and science in their shows. I know it sounds like a strange combination, but it really is a good show.


Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685697)

Yes, he's got a show on Planet Green doing ecological science called Stuff Happens [] .

For biology... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685483)

Richard Dawkins is a pretty solid popularizer, if you are interested in biology.

A fair number of the bloggers at are also worth a look. Some tend more toward politics/culture; but there is plenty of science stuff, including scientists and science writers doing layman-accessible writeups of interesting peer-reviewed research(Not Exactly Rocket Science [] does pretty much exclusively that; but many of the others do it as well, from time to time, as do those on their blogrolls).

Beyond texts/video, of course, is equipment. Talking heads are all well and good; but microscope(should be good enough to avoid pure frustration, doesn't have to be anything fancy) will let you see the sort of crazy stuff living in your average drop of water. Even a cheap and nasty telescope will let you see more than Galileo was able to. A run through the Illustrated guide to home chemistry experiments [] might also be a worthy endeavor.

J. C. Venter (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685511)

look him up...

Re:J. C. Venter (1)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685685)

Came here to say that. A bit egotistical but still. Check out "The Genome War". It's fascinating.

careful.... Re:J. C. Venter (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685707)

He could also be thought of as somewhat of an antihero in biology. He did, after all, try to fund the human genome project with profit as a motive. There is a pretty good argument that he would have wanted to patent the entire genome, had his group succeeded in completing a draft of the human genome first.

Had that happened, then the promise of genomic medicine might be even more remote.

Ray Kurzweil (1)

Sybert42 (1309493) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685519)

Might as well show them what they'll become.

Al Gore (2, Funny)

kaufmanmoore (930593) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685525)

Because of him your children won't be threatened by Manbearpig

Re:Al Gore (3, Funny)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685799)

Also, he invented the internet. Sorry.

Beakman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685545)

Just try to find some old episodes of Beakman's World in rerun. Square One TV is a good choice as well.

For kids science books, I'm not really sure. Richard Dawkins is said to have one in the works.

Cory Doctorow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685569)

Sometimes I crack myself up.

Michio Kaku, but really, Beakman and Nye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685571)

I find his stuff on the science channel to be pretty interesting. Beakman and Bill Nye are the best for kids, though. And Mr. Wizard. I tell you what, though, if H. David Politzer ever did a science show, it would be fantastic. I learned freshman E&M from him, the year before his Nobel.

Dean Kamen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685577)

Dean Kamen: he started FIRST Robotics, has many many inventions to his name, and a genuine interest in doing good for the world. You just have to get past the denim and eccentricity.

LOL Carl Sagan....scientist? not (-1, Flamebait)

Beat The Odds (1109173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685579)

Carl should have pointed hit famous "baloney detector" at himself. I especially like the "scientific" opening to Cosmos, "The Cosmos is all that is, or was, or ever will be". Nice science Carl. Atheistic philosopher maybe? If you want to get your kids interested in the universe, introduce then to the Creator.

Re:LOL Carl Sagan....scientist? not (3, Insightful)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685679)

... the creator of what? If you demand Carl use science, you do the same. Let me guess, I'll have to place faith in repeated memes instead...

I'll bank on evidence and hold to theories backed by substantial evidence.

Re:LOL Carl Sagan....scientist? not (3, Insightful)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685709)

I don't think the submitter was asking for a Sunday school answers to a request for science instruction. While it is perfectly acceptable to use God to fill the holes in knowledge for the time being (if a society must because it has a sever phobia of areas of uncertainty and doubt), it is not acceptable for a society to refuse to acknowledge scientific findings, or refuse the future possibility of what science may find simply because it has already answered that particular question with the stock "The Creator did it."

Re:LOL Carl Sagan....scientist? not (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685755)

You can't be serious. Surely this is an attempt at humor?

Sagan was a well-respected scientist before he wrote anything.

So if you aren't joking, then you must be trolling. Knock it off.

And if you aren't being a troll, then you're just a dick. Fuck off.

Re:LOL Carl Sagan....scientist? not (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685763)

Troooollllllllllllllll. Move along nothing to see here. You should know how slashdotters would react to a post that rejects science in favor of religious dogma. As such, you're just looking to stir up controversy.

Mods, banish the above post to the depths of trollish obscurity.

Two come to mind... (1)

Landshark17 (807664) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685581)

If Bill Nye hadn't been cancelled he'd be the perfect place to start, though I'm sure you could find old episodes on youtube or find torrents.

The other is Mythbusters. It may be a little over the head of a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old, but I think it has a fair chance of grabbing them. How can kids not love a show whose two most commonly repeated phrases are "If it's worth doing, it's worth over-doing." and "When in doubt-- C4!"

5 and 2 years old? (3, Insightful)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685589)

How about Elmo and Curious George?

You've got years before they give a rat's ass about Cosmos or David Attenborough wildlife documentaries. It's OK, they're little kids.

Say NO to celebrity science (3, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685673)

Science should be practical. It's good when it helps people. Any individual scientist who has done science to help people is worth looking up to. That also goes for anyone else of any profession.

You're asking for celebrities. Celebrities are not famous for helping people, they're famous for appearing on TV. Do you really think it's wise to teach your kids to look up to whoever the TV producers want to put on TV? Are TV producers wise?

Why not teach them to value practical virtue rather than vanity?

You guys don't read /. enough (2, Funny)

godrik (1287354) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685677)

In a poll, Cowboy Neal is the only reasonnable answer.

Brian Greene (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685695)

Brian Greene has written two really good books on physics for the interested layperson. One is specifically on String Theory (The Elegant Universe). The other covers a broader range of physics topics (The Fabric of the Cosmos). Both books are very well written. I personally like TFOTC a bit more since it's not so focused on a single topic. I really hope he continues to write physics popularizations in the future.

Tyson and Krulwich FTW (1)

7grain (583823) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685703)

This is a no-brainer!

1. Check out Neil deGrasse Tyson [] , who hosts the excellent show Nova ScienceNOW [] , currently in it's third season. It runs just after NOVA for several weeks in a row.

2. Try Robert Krulwich [] , who co-hosts the great NPR show & podcast RadioLab, with the equally wonderful Jad Abumrad. They are great for driving and listening.

Both are brilliant at making complicated sciencey topics seem fun and interesting. My 13 year old daughter enjoys both shows immensely with me. RadioLab, especially, is fun and funny, and you can gather up all podcasts on iTunes (there are about 25 full shows presently, plus lots of smaller in-between podcasts).

Both of these guys appear frequently on public radio shows too, like Ira Flatow's Science Friday [] , which is also good but a little more current eventsy.

Hope you enjoy these!

An Australian (1)

stryyker (573921) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685715)

Dr. Karl. He has nice colourful shirts and plenty of books.

Michio Kaku (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685723)

Michio Kaku does it all. Theoretical Physicist. Constantly on the television and has two radio shows, in addition to teaching at City College of New York.

Its a matter of preference... (3, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685749)

Each science has its own heroes in the current day. If you really want to establish a science hero for your kids, choose which science you want to teach them about first. Much as Einstein isn't a great hero to evolutionary biologists, Darwin isn't a great hero to modern physicists. You could, of course, try to cover a wide variety of scientific disciplines (and their respective heroes) in a short amount of time, but you would probably do better to start with more approachable subjects and bring up the heroes of those.

Steven Pinker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28685791)

I think Steven Pinker is a very fun, intelligent person to learn about brain sciences and philosophy. He has a great skill in conveying complex ideas in ways that would make Sagan proud.

We don't need science heroes (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685803)

We need to teach our kids to get away from the idea of having "heroes" per se. Have a look at some of the greats of the past and you'll find they had character flaws that you do not want children emulating. Read biographies on Newton (sociopath who enjoyed humilating and disgracing others), Einstein (mysogynist who refused to accept QM), Feynman (womaniser who enjoyed conning people). Teach them to admire and focus the work and aspire to doing great work, not to have fuzzy hair and charisma but patchy people skills.

More of an ensemble cast in the future, I think (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 5 years ago | (#28685839)

as opposed to one or two specific "heroes."

There are so many different sources for information to be had out there, so many more science programs, than there were when Sagan was big, that I think there will be many more low-to-medium-grade "scilebrities" vs. just one or two superstars.

Other than Bill Nye, I'd say take a look at some of The Universe episodes (though they might be a bit intense for younger kids), and there are some really interesting BBC shows featuring Michio Kaku.

Mythbusters is fun stuff, and a nice sort of vicarious "making shit to blow it up" kind of thing, but it doesn't do a good job with the science (nor does it really try to, I don't think.)

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