The Science Nation bills itself as “a series of science-themed public events, which promises to provide educational entertainment that makes you laugh while you learn” – and in my view that’s a pretty accurate description of the wonderful stuff they do.
I went to their Great Debate at the Maritime Museum yesterday: Eight scientists pitching on what the greatest discovery of all time is. It doesn’t really matter what the greatest discovery actually is – that’s a fun debate anyone can have – what was really cool was watching eight intelligent people talking about areas they knew things about and are passionate about. The first round was easy as it was a prepared debate. The second and third rounds were harder because the scientists had to keep pitching for their chosen discovery beyond the bounds of their prepared materials.
The winner on the day was Bill Gladstone with his contentious view that the sex lives of angler fish were the greatest discovery of all time. Now I know that sounds silly – and so we all laughed along with his very clever contention – but a couple of hundred people walked away knowing a great deal more about angler fish and their reflection of the human condition than they knew an hour earlier. I certainly don’t agree that the sex lives of angler fish actually is the greatest discovery of all time, and doubt Professor Gladstone does either, but it was one hell of an entertaining presentation.
This is what The Science Nation excels in: Getting clever people in a room and having them talk, usually with great whit, about subjects they revel in.