Saturday, 30 November 2013
Lectures, faeces and the media....
Today's blog title might conjure a rant on how lectures are not favourably received by the media, but this is far from the truth. This past week had me on my toes...giving lectures, working with the media and being asked to comment upon published research on a prehistoric communal toilet!
The STFC event in Birmingham on the Public Engagement in Science went extremely well, seamlessly organised and delivered by the STFC team. The TeenTech event at the Olympic Park similarly went swimmingly, albeit in a vast basketball court. Over 600 kids came, saw and were hopefully inspired by a wonderful bunch of folks who give their time to promoting STEM subjects. The final talk I gave in London was at the Highgate School. Here I gave a lecture on the University of Manchester interdisciplinary approach to science. This was delivered to a very motivated science club...always splendid to see and hear. No sooner had I finished the lecture and the very articulate Q&A session, I headed to the busy rush-hour street outside the school to await a mobile BBC Studio. I had already received three calls from the BBC Studio asking if the said van had arrived...at worst the cellphone would have to be the final mode of interview.
The interview had been arranged for 5:37pm….London rush hour traffic had been doing its best to delay the van, which arrived at 5:43pm. A splendidly organised BBC chap bundled me into the back of the van (which from the street-side must have looked a little odd!) and I found myself sat in a tardis-like recording studio. I was encouraged to immediately put on my headphones, only to hear a surprisingly calm BBC producer say that I would be live on air in a mere 30 seconds! Not much time to collect ones thoughts….the interview was a blur to be honest...you can hear the said Radio 4 PM Show on this link (44:30 minutes into the programme).
The topic of the interview was slightly unusual...as I had been asked to comment on the recent publication on a possible communal 'toilet' used by a group of mammal-like reptiles (Dicynodonts) some 230 million years ago in Northern Argentina. Anyone who listens to the interview might well hear my struggle...as I tried to avoid 'forbidden' words at this early broadcast hour. It would have been easy for me to say, ‘Basically I’m talking c**p’ or ‘Communal c**pping critters coprophagicly conjure a course communal khazi’….I could go on, but had better not!
As a final aside, my blog hit 100,000 views this week. Thank you for continuing to read my palaeontological 'droppings'...