Putting the “Awe” Back in Awesome


Apologies to whomever posted this on Twitter, because it was last week and I cannot for the life of me remember who.  One day, I’ll remember to jot these things down.  But it’s definitely too good not to share for lack of being able to credit.

Every science blogger needs to read “Rehabilitating Awesome” by John Pavlus.  So should everyone who loves science and wants other to love it, too.  If you haven’t yet, here’s why:

My humble opinion is that engagement should start from first principles–and I don’t mean elementary physics. Take the beginner’s mind, not the post-doc’s or the cynical reporter’s. Why did we as science writers get into this business? I can’t speak for you, but in my case it wasn’t because I loved how the word “chromodynamics” looked next to a forbidding table of statistics. It was because at some formative point in my life I felt awe and associated it with science. As in,”Wowwww”–then “why?”–then “ohhhh.” I would hazard that many scientists had a similar experiences that sent them on their professional paths.

Awe is our first principle. If we weren’t all using science to chase it in some way or another, why be in this business at all?

So there’s our answer about engagement. Every damn person who’s ever breathed air has once wondered why the sky is blue. So, whatever your scientific subject, just go back in time, dig out that tiny neutron-dense core of wonderment that you felt, and you’ll be well on your way to bringing someone else along for the ride. Easier said than done, of course — but perhaps not as difficult as many of us have learned to believe.

All right, then?  Think you can do that?  Of course you can.  Science makes it easy.  Science is amazingly awesome, frequently dramatic, beautiful even when it’s ugly, and has the power to make even the mundane look like the most extraordinary thing you’ve ever seen in your entire life.

It inspires awe.  All you have to do is add the “some,” then kick it up a notch or two.  Dead easy, right?  Yes, it is – take a trot down my blogroll and you’ll see science bloggers doing it every single day.

Comments

  1. says

    I'm picturing a bunch of stereotypical scientists in lab coats, looking at a 55-inch monitor attached to a supercomputer that runs a supercollider. The screen shows a complicated distribution graphic and a bunch of math. One scientist turns to the others and says; "It's official… the Universe is Made Of Awesome!