How many physicists can you name?
Science, in my opinion, is in need of a good PR campaign manager. We all benefit from scientific discoveries yet because nearly everything (and some may argue EVERYTHING) in our lives is influenced by science, it is difficult to identify one specific discovery and give credit where credit is due. Furthermore, if we can’t easily identify the multitude of ways in which science influences our lives (ie. food, shelter, transportation, health, entertainment, computers, etc….) it is easy to understand why we can’t identify the scientists who have made these discoveries either.
Jay Leno has this great segment on his show called “Jay Walking” in which he asks “average” Americans questions of fact relating to history, science, literature – things we should have learned in school. While the answers are often amusing, they point out a very clear fact about our culture – we only remember what we have been conditioned to remember through entertainment and publicity. Case and point, 9 out of 10 Americans when asked to name a person from China will name Yao Ming. I am not knocking the center for the Houston Rockets but come on people.
So… this leads to the question. I am collecting data on how many physicists people can name. Ask your friends, ask your family, ask the guy sitting next to you on the bus. Then let me know… we have 30 days to collect the information!
At the end of the 30 days I will compile the information and share the results back. GOOD LUCK PHYSICISTS!