Friday, July 16, 2010

Getting the word out


[ Photo Credit: Flickr user Tanki (source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelrhys/40428909/) used under license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en ]

Today I canned my first pop science interview for Astronomy.fm (look for it next Monday, July 19!) with the good folks at the York University Observatory. I've never done anything quite like this before, with the possible exception of sitting in and offering a few comments on an interview that my PhD advisor and Phoenix Mission P.I., Peter Smith, had done with NPR (US National Public Radio). With luck, I picked up a trick or two from Peter, the consummate master of the science interview. So, hopefully I acquitted myself well, and didn't embarrass myself too badly.

Even if I did, it's still a useful process. As I've mentioned in this space before, we Scientists have an obligation to share our knowledge, passion and enthusiasm with the public and I hope that I get more opportunities to do just that.

Additionally, it's interesting to get some behind-the-scenes experience, just to see how these interviews are done. For instance, we ended up recording two interviews since we couldn't use the first take as the result of technical difficulties. What was fascinating is that each take of the interview was completely different, despite operating from the same sheet of questions. In the first (which will not air) we talked mainly about Astrobiology as well as the motivations and philosophy of doing space exploration/planetary science. The second version (which will air) was more of a discussion of the technical aspects of exploring the solar system.

It was a fun experience, and I thank the York University Observatory for the chance to participate. In particular, I'd like to thank my host Rob Berthiaume. Rob, a complete natural as a host, knows exactly how to put an interviewee at ease. You end up simply having a conversation - I think we could have continued talking for hours. Hopefully they'll have me back again. If they do, I'd especially love to be able to answer questions from listeners.

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