TED Conversations

Kelwalin Dhanasarnsombut

Patent and patent information specialist, Rouse & Co International


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Celebrity scientists

From Richard Dawkin to Brian Cox, from Sean Carroll to E. O. Willson, they have gave their talks here at TED, been on media, inspired and raised much of debates.

Who is your favorite scientist? Who haven't yet been on TED and should be invited to be on TED? and why? What is your opinion on 'Sci-celebrities'? Are they good model for kids, good educator, inspiring icon, or they are over-rated?


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    Jan 30 2013: Kelwalin, It is nice to grant a title of celebrity scientists to these great minds ... and I agree. However, There remains a great problem. I will use examples from the USA. If convased in high school who could name the nobel prize winner for last year ... few .... who could name the top ten students ... some ... who could name last years valvictorian ... relatives ... who could name the last four quarterbacks for the footbball team .... the majority.

    Steven Hawkins is not a star because of his mind .. he is a star because of his ability to overcome his handicap and his contributions are an inspiration.

    This is basically a geek webstie ... most here recognize the names and could probally tell you the field ... but this is the choir you are preaching to.

    The question should be how do we get todays youth involved in math and science. Look at this years tech show in Vegas. All of the new "gadgets" were where the money is ... new cell phones ... new TV ... new apps .... new computer ... erverything.

    I did not see one stall that hyped "green" ... CERN discoveries / projects .... better medicine .... and I ask myself why. Because there is no future or money in these things that we at TED admire.

    Only because I break the word down do I see Immunology as the study of the immune system .... if you were to go to Wal Mart ... the grocery store ..... local pub ... or ask on the street ... how many people would know what you do.

    This is a very selfish .. self centered generation ... they judge by your cloths, address, your car, your job, your salary, your title .... In short they could care less about science that does not impact them here and now. The science they respect is those who brew their drink and drugs.

    Yes this is a dark picture ... but one we must face and work to overcome. How?

    I wish you well. Bob.
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      Jan 30 2013: Thanks for taking you time to discuss. I'm really glad you did, cause I wished to see this kind of answer and wish that this conversation can expand and go on.

      I know that some or many, scientists on telly are considered celebrity cause of their contributions to science + "the extra factor". It's true that all the rest of "greatest minds" should be more recognisable. (i.e. those who got Nobel, etc.). But these scientists on media, in my opinion, play important role in sciences education and public engagement. I think that if we have more of them or promote our shy greatest minds, this will encourage kids to have more intention in sciences. Then from that, hopefully, when these become a demand, there will be more of good science.

      There must be more than one way to inspire kids. I only think this is one of many. I wish kids will have more scientist idols :)
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        Jan 30 2013: The TV series "Through the Wormhole" explores the sciences in depth and outlines some of the major and minor theories that have evolved from experiments. It's an awesome show. Unfortunately, in my area, the science channel is one of those extra channels that cost more. Too bad. The regions that need this information the most are those who can least afford it.
    • Feb 16 2013: I think you are over generalizing today's generation. I would argue that past generations would be even more inept at naming nobel prize winners, or current scientists, in comparison to today. Regardless, though, I agree with your bigger question - how do we get kids more involved in science/math. I believe this is being done by non-professionals...What I mean here is that kids are being inspired by the reporters of current research, not by the researchers themselves. This should make sense. If current researchers were educating the general public then they would not be doing research work! Some examples of "reporters" would be sites such as Veritasium, Vsauce, CPG Grey, ViHart, etc. As someone who has been working with kids for the past decade, I hear more and more talk (and excitement) about sites like these. This also leads me to believe that today's children are much more informed about science and math than pretty much any past generations (anyone that disagrees may be blinded by nostalgia).
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        Feb 16 2013: Ben, You had me in your corner nodding agreement right up to the last sentence. If I disagree with you then something is wrong with me.

        Sorry you feel that way. Bob.
        • Feb 16 2013: Bob
          I did draw a pretty hard line there (which was not my real intention). However, I do feel that often times current generations take the brunt of the abuse from older generations - I'm sure this is not unique to present times. While it is certainly not always a " my generation is better than yours" mentality, it does seem to be a prevalent feeling. This is where I was coming from when I said nostalgia may be to blame.

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