Lecture series gives public chance to "rub elbows with scientists," USU prof says

American’s perceptions of and ability to think about science are slipping, and that affects our standing in the world, said Shane Larson, a scientist, head of Science Unwrapped and USU professor. The ability for society to understand science and technology is important in order for a country to keep its status in the world. For many years, efforts around the country have tried to enhance communication between scientists and the population. These nationwide efforts made their way to USU, and a monthly lecture series called Science Unwrapped was born in February of 2009. Each month, a committee of personnel from the USU’s College of Science decide who they’d like to give a speech about a particular field of science. The committee has a representative from every core branch of science at USU in order to ensure that all the different types of science are covered. These lectures range in topics from math to geology and beyond. The committee tries to tie in the lectures with current events and topics of interest. Sometimes the committee will invite a guest to speak who is not from Cache Valley, but they try to keep it local. One of the main goals of Science Unwrapped is to “humanize science,” Larson said, and this can be achieved by showing locals that their neighbors are scientists and they’re doing important things. “Most of us have these images of scientists where we’re like Einstein; we can’t afford combs and we can’t comb our hair, we wear lab coats and crouch down in our basements and cackle and plot to take over the world. That’s the vision that everybody has of scientists, but really we’re just ordinary folks,” he said. Not only does the monthly event help teach the community about different sciences, but it gives locals the opportunity to ask experts questions and “rub elbows with scientists,” Larson said. “Today, in the age of the Internet, you can find any information you want. You can go to Google, or Wikipedia, and Google anything, but that doesn’t always mean you understand it and that doesn’t always mean that you can trust what you hear,” he said. “The noise on the web is enormous.” Talking to an expert face-to-face gets questions answered. School kids and retired residents alike are invited to come and participate in Science Unwrapped, which takes place the first Friday of every month at 7 p.m. in USU’s Eccles Science Learning Center, room 130. A lecturer will give a presentation, and then following most speeches guests can participate in after events where they can ask questions and get a hands-on look at the sciences they just learned. Information about upcoming events can be found at the Science Unwrapped

<a href=”http://www.usu.edu/unwrapped/”>website.</a>

– rachel@cvdaily.com

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