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Tomorrow's Science Heroes? 799

Posted by kdawson
from the mister-wizard-reincarnated dept.
An anonymous reader writes "As a kid I was (and still am) heavily influenced by Carl Sagan, and a little later by Stephen Hawking. Now as I have started a family with two kids, currently age 5 and 2, I am wondering who out there is popularizing science. Currently, my wife and I can get the kids excited about the world around them, but I'd like to find someone inspiring from outside the family as they get older. Sure, we'll always have 'Cosmos,' but are there any contemporaries who are trying to bring science into the public view in such a fun and intriguing way? Someone the kids can look up to and be inspired by? Where is the next Science Hero?"
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Tomorrow's Science Heroes?

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  • Tyson (Score:5, Interesting)

    by melikamp (631205) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:07PM (#28685413) Homepage Journal

    I am currently going through a Neil deGrasse Tyson phase.

    • Re:Tyson (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:24PM (#28685537)

      Michio Kaku, physics professor, public speaker, writer and very entertaining to watch. I picked up his book, Hyperspace, while I was still in high school and later saw him a few times on Tech TV's Big Thinkers before G4 killed the network.

      • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @02:53AM (#28687305)

        He tried his damnedest [lovearth.org] to kill the Cassini/Huygens mission that has given us knowledge about Saturn and Titan second only to the Voyager program. ("OMG teh evil Plutonium is going to be magically smushed up n an asplosion and kill us all!")

        Never mind that the risks were virtually nonexistent, even if you didn't bother to weigh them against the knowledge we stood to gain. He's no different from the tin-foil hat crowd who tried to shut down the LHC with lawsuits because we might all get swallowed by a black hole.

        Michio Kaku has little credibility in my book, because I have no idea whose side he's on... science's, or woo-woo Earth First nutcases.

    • Re:Tyson (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WillyWanker (1502057) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:26PM (#28685553)
      I'd go with Neil too. While not as nerdy as previous generations' "science guys", he really does have a passion for science and seems genuinely interested in spreading the love.

      And Nova Science Now is a great show for the kids.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kjenks (846750)
      Tyson gets my vote, too, but my kids like: Bill Nye the Science Guy, Beakman (from Beakman's World), Alton Brown.
    • Re:Tyson (Score:5, Interesting)

      by skorch (906936) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:08AM (#28686401)
      What I like most about Neil DeGrasse Tyson is how he's so deeply passionate about science, the scientific process, and the very philosophy of inquiry into the nature of the universe. He is able to evangelize science, and bring that often overlooked but much needed emotion to the conversation about what could otherwise be very dry and boring subjects.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ai-VvboPnA [youtube.com]

      Now if you can watch this and not be moved in some way, then I'm sorry, but it is my humble opinion that you are broken. This passion is a quality that almost every good preacher, salesman, or spokesman knows and yet so many science teachers can't seem to figure out: You need to engage your audience passionately, and make them feel the importance of what you're saying, not simply explain it to them.
  • Richard Dawkins (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:07PM (#28685415)
    I'm 19, and Dawkins has been an enormous influence on me. A few years back he was one of figures that helped me jetisson religion, and ever since I've had a greater curiousity about science.
    • Re:Richard Dawkins (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:11PM (#28685441)
      You know, there are a lot of people who don't have a problem combining religion and science... so I don't see how that part of your comment has anything to do with anything...
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by grub (11606)

        You know, there are a lot of people who don't have a problem combining religion and science

        and there are those who think.

        .
      • Sorry, No. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gbutler69 (910166) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:15PM (#28685473) Homepage
        Religion and Science are 100% incompatible. Religion = "I Believe", Science = "I can show/demonstrate/repeat". These two ways of looking at the world are not, and never will be, compatible. Those who "combine" the two really are saying, "I believe this or that, but, I can't completely ignore this incontrovertible evidence over here, but, for anything else, I'll just BELIEVE!" Horse-Puckey!
        • Re:Sorry, No. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:34PM (#28685609) Homepage
          It's really sad how ignorant of theology people are today. Sigh. I bet you can't even name the school of thought that you're advocating.

          And unsurprising about the intolerance shown, too. Ignorance and bigotry go together like peanut butter and jelly.

          • Re:Sorry, No. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by twostix (1277166) on Monday July 13, 2009 @11:37PM (#28686167)

            I spent 18 years attending an evangelical church before figuring out all by myself that at best it's a complete corruption of the movement that the figure known as Jesus began, at worst just a slowly dying culture. I certainly was not alone though and thousands of people do it every day.

            The stereotype that many "atheists" describe for quite a few religious people is correct. The sad thing is though in *them* (people such as the grandparent) I see exactly the same type of mindless, blathering, "*I* know the one truth and if you don't see it your crazy", HIGHLY ignorant, paint the opposition as evil whackos ranting and mindset that I used to see in the more fevered members of the church.

            Different side of the same bent coin.

            If they were born into the church they'd probably be the very people that they rant and rave about - the fanatics.

            The rest of us, the moderate religious, agnostic and atheists just get on with it and don't particularly care for holy wars from anyone no matter what they believe or don't believe.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fractoid (1076465)
          Well... yes and no. One way in which religion and science can co-exist is if you believe in the god of the gaps [wikipedia.org]. What can adequately be explained by your empirical model of the world is the domain of science and nature. Everything else, "a wizard did it". To our earliest ancestors, everything was supernatural because their understanding of nature was incredibly limited. To cavemen, fire was understood (to a degree) but thunder and lightning were the province of the gods. Today, most of our world is understo
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tnok85 (1434319)
          Science is no more incompatible with say, Christianity, than Buddhism is with Judaism. Or cars are with submarines.

          People are incompatible. There is no scientific proof (that I know of) that proves there is a god or that there is no god. There is no reason that I cannot believe in evolution and still believe in a god, or believe that we have souls.

          Yes, it is a belief, it is not the proof/fact of evolution, it is STILL referred to as the Theory of Evolution. Not getting into that debate, even though a theory
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by notrandomly (1242142)

            Yes, it is a belief, it is not the proof/fact of evolution, it is STILL referred to as the Theory of Evolution. Not getting into that debate, even though a theory does have a lot of evidence, unless it's provable it's still a theory

            No wonder you are getting all your claims wrong. You don't even understand how science works. In science, a theory is the highest order. It's the goal of science. It's what makes science useful. There is no higher level than a scientific theory. You need to educate yourself [notjustatheory.com].

            Ev

        • Re:Sorry, No. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by spire3661 (1038968) on Monday July 13, 2009 @11:03PM (#28685891) Journal
          It is ENTIRELY possible to believe in a creator and still accept the true wonder of the universe. Religion does not mean the same thing as faith. Organized religion as set forth by the religions 'clergy', for the most part is tailored to control the populace. People LIKE to be controlled, its comforting to some. Why have police when you can force your people to police themselves through guilt?
        • by The_mad_linguist (1019680) on Monday July 13, 2009 @11:50PM (#28686259)

          Dude, Gideon is the first example of someone using the scientific method.

          I suppose, though, you are unable to appreciate the irony of your statement.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by clarkkent09 (1104833) *
        Not very many scientists are religious: http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/sci_relig.htm [lhup.edu] Those that are do have a problem, they just choose to ignore it.
  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:08PM (#28685421) Homepage
    They teach the heart of the Scientific Method and show it as being FUN. Test the hypothesis - then retest it, just like Jaime and Adam do every episode.
    • by LBArrettAnderson (655246) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:15PM (#28685471)
      Yes. Mythbusters is perfect! Teach them to jump to conclusions based on extremely small data sets and horribly designed/non-existent control objects.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        (and don't get me wrong... I love mythbusters... it's just that "scientists" isn't how I'd describe them).
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TinBromide (921574)
        At least they GET data rather than just basing their opinions what they're fed. Honestly, when was the last time you did a thorough scientific experiment in your personal life? I think that personal science involves questioning the status quo, not accepting everything at face value, and figuring out how to answer your questions. Simply because your methods wouldn't stand up to rigorous testing doesn't mean that you can't use it to make good decisions. Ultimately I think that is the role of science in people
        • by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:59PM (#28685861) Journal

          At least they GET data rather than just basing their opinions what they're fed. Honestly, when was the last time you did a thorough scientific experiment in your personal life?

          I gather scientific data every time I get in the car.
          My hypothesis: I won't get pulled over for speeding
          Conclusion: False
          Note: the hypothesis has been rigorously tested and the conclusion has been confirmed multiple times.

          Or is that not the kind of scientific experiment you meant?

        • by mckinnsb (984522) on Monday July 13, 2009 @11:00PM (#28685867)

          At least they GET data rather than just basing their opinions what they're fed ... personal science involves questioning the status quo, not accepting everything at face value, and figuring out how to answer your questions. Simply because your methods wouldn't stand up to rigorous testing doesn't mean that you can't use it to make good decisions. Ultimately I think that is the role of science in peoples lives, to answer questions and aid in decisions ... While I don't always agree with the mythbuster's methods, at least they don't sit around waiting for the talking heads to hand down the truth from on high. The scientific spirit of the program is strong if the flesh is sometimes weak.

          You have just accurately described the higher, philosophical purpose of science. Well done.

          I feel you have also accurately summarized why MythBusters is so popular - it captures the scientific spirit without diluting it in rigor, while catering to an audience that is constantly seeking for its own answers and the associated reasons behind them. In a popular culture that provides fewer clear messages as information becomes more partisan, the individual reacts naturally in their own self interest by becoming more individual in the acquisition of their own information. MythBusters might be the lowest common denominator of this process among the 'technically minded', but how the hell are you going to accurately test 'if a playing card can actually kill a human being?'. Seriously.

      • by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:29PM (#28685573) Homepage Journal

        There's an XKCD for that:

        http://xkcd.com/397/ [xkcd.com]

      • by wisty (1335733) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:50PM (#28685789)

        In Australian (specifically the state of Queensland) high schools, they like to teach kids to think "scientifically", and "design their own experiments", then write a 60 page report, plus a log book, and sometimes a poster. The kids just don't have the scientific maturity to design a correct experiment (i.e. statistically significant), but they do a bang-up job on the report. All neat, good grammar, pretty graphs and diagrams.

        They don't enjoy it much (a 60 page report is honors thesis territory) and they aren't really learning any more science than if they watched Mythbusters, but at least they are able to generate a lot of paper for their teachers to mark.

        A word of warning - never let education academics with no teaching or real world experience take control of the education system.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ozbird (127571)
        You mean, they should try experiments without applying C4? That's crazy talk!
    • by Weedhopper (168515) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:18PM (#28685491)

      It still generates interest and gets kids thinking so Mythbusters gets a thumbs up from me but let's not pretend like they're rigorous. I wish they'd do more end of the show disclaimers ; things they did right/wrong, etc. Science isn't science if you're not considering all the faults and sources of error in your experiments.

  • With all this buzz about climate change being thrown about, you can't go wrong there. ;)
    Besides, they tend to visit schools, and have a high level of visibility and impact.

    On a serious note, Stephing Hawking and Carl Sagan are still around, right? So why do you need new heroes?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Wiscocrew (1254242)
      Carl Sagan died in 1996.
    • Re:Meteorologists (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 100_Monkeys_Typing (662396) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:23PM (#28685523)
      Sorta makes me sad that Carl Sagan isn't around anymore and apparently no one noticed. Some pop star kicks the bucket and the world comes to a grinding halt. :(
      • by myowntrueself (607117) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:59PM (#28685851)

        Sagan used to be my science hero, when I was a kid and I watched a regular show of his on TV.

        Then one show I was watching there was some topic about visits from extraterrestrials, interstellar travel etc.

        Carl came out and said "There is no possibility of visits from other worlds. The distances involved are so great that it would take thousands of years for them to get to our solar system."

        My jaw dropped at that statement. Up to that point I had thought he was an imaginative and intelligent guy.

        Evidently he could not conceive of alien beings for whom thousands of years was a very short time and who could even make such a journey 'just for the hell of it'.

        For him this was completely impossible, inconceivable.

        Thats pretty sad for a guy with his reputation.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          ...and they came all this way and didn't even say hello?

          Because that's the part he refused to believe; that UFOs are full of little green men who enjoy slicing up cows and sticking thermometers up lonely farmers rears, but won't so much as say hello to anyone who's credible. He's sure they're out THERE. But if they'd bothered to come HERE, surely they'd let us know. But they haven't done so, so they haven't been here. They didn't build the pyramids, they didn't crash in Roswell, and they didn't put an

        • by bersl2 (689221) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @04:00AM (#28687671) Journal

          I'm listening to the portion I think you're talking about. If I am, then you as a child did not pick up the nuances of what he was saying.

          What he said was this:

          • On the one hand, we have reason to believe that there are other "technical civilizations" living in this galaxy right this very second, and probably a very large number of them.
          • On the other hand, we have no credible evidence that they have visited (or even contacted) our civilization on Earth.
          • Nevertheless, it's feasible that they could have visited the Earth during the time of Humanity. How can we explain this apparent contradiction?
            • Maybe we are the first technical civilization.
            • Or, perhaps all such civilizations are practically doomed to self-destruction.
            • Maybe something we have not yet experienced renders interstellar travel impossible.
            • Or maybe they are already here but are unnoticed by humans.
            • "But there's another explanation that is consistent with everything else we know, and that's that it's a big cosmos." The only things that would indicate our presence to them are our radio, TV, and other broadcasts; but these have not yet even reached a distance where it is likely that another civilization has hear them! "From their point of view, all nearby planetary systems might seem equally attractive for exploration." It's simply a matter of infinitesimal probability.

          So you see, he did not say that it is impossible; that was a product of your own mind.

          Carl Sagan was not a mere science hero; he was a science super-hero.

  • by acehole (174372)

    If only there was a "Science Man" cartoon. Fighting the delusional forces of creationism. Curb stomping his nemesis Dr Dino and able to calculate PI to 30 digits. All while working at the LHC in his secret janitor identity.

  • BILL BILL BILL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sherl0k (1215370) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:13PM (#28685455)
    Bill Nye.
  • Al Gore (Score:3, Funny)

    by kaufmanmoore (930593) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:23PM (#28685525)
    Because of him your children won't be threatened by Manbearpig
  • 5 and 2 years old? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Clover_Kicker (20761) <clover_kicker@yahoo.com> on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:30PM (#28685589)

    How about Elmo and Curious George?

    You've got years before they give a rat's ass about Cosmos or David Attenborough wildlife documentaries. It's OK, they're little kids.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by snookums (48954)

      How about Elmo and Curious George?

      You've got years before they give a rat's ass about Cosmos or David Attenborough wildlife documentaries. It's OK, they're little kids.

      Rubbish. Show the kids David Attenborough wildlife documentaries from the get-go. Children are very good at filtering what they understand and what they don't from material aimed at adults. Elmo and Curious George are entertainment, maybe even "edutainment", but it's not going to fill them with the awe, wonder and curiosity of the natural world that drives a scientist.

      Talk to children like adults when you're discussing adult topics - like science. They'll thank you for it. Something that annoyed me no end g

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kozz (7764)

      Hey, if you're going to take the PBS Kids approach, then you ought to be suggesting Sid the Science Kid.

  • Nova ScienceNOW (Score:3, Informative)

    by macemoneta (154740) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:35PM (#28685615) Homepage

    PBS has Nova ScienceNOW, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3210/02.html [pbs.org]

    It's pretty good, and surprisingly current.

  • by Kohath (38547) on Monday July 13, 2009 @10:40PM (#28685673)

    Science should be practical. It's good when it helps people. Any individual scientist who has done science to help people is worth looking up to. That also goes for anyone else of any profession.

    You're asking for celebrities. Celebrities are not famous for helping people, they're famous for appearing on TV. Do you really think it's wise to teach your kids to look up to whoever the TV producers want to put on TV? Are TV producers wise?

    Why not teach them to value practical virtue rather than vanity?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arb phd slp (1144717)

      Ah, the American Protestant/Puritan practical virtue ethic!

      "Famous" isn't the same as "celebrity". People can be famous for good reasons, not just frivolous ones.

      And I agree that any individual scientist who does good work is worth looking up to, but if we never hear about them, how do we do that?

      You know what kids do hear about? Athletes. And Paris Hilton. If we don't exalt scientists as being valued, those values don't get transmitted to the next generation. We were in the process of reimporting that valu

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jschrod (172610)
      This is not about celebrity science, this is about role models. And, as scientific studies show [google.com], role models are important for field selection and motivation of pupils and students.
  • Each science has its own heroes in the current day. If you really want to establish a science hero for your kids, choose which science you want to teach them about first. Much as Einstein isn't a great hero to evolutionary biologists, Darwin isn't a great hero to modern physicists. You could, of course, try to cover a wide variety of scientific disciplines (and their respective heroes) in a short amount of time, but you would probably do better to start with more approachable subjects and bring up the heroes of those.
  • by riprjak (158717) on Monday July 13, 2009 @11:25PM (#28686077)

    Dr. Tim Flannery [wikipedia.org] is someone whose work I have introduced all of my young relatives too. He may not be as well recognised outside of Australian and I can honestly say I don't always share his viewpoint; but he conveys the points well and with great passion.

    Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki [wikipedia.org] has been doing a scientifically credible, entertaining and honest version of what the mythbuster's do on radio in Australia for donkeys years and is pure gold when it comes to making science fun and accessible.

    err!
    Jak.

  • David Attenborough (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ginger_Chris (1068390) on Monday July 13, 2009 @11:32PM (#28686125)
    I know he's not a scientist per se, but David Attenborough had a huge influence on me as a child, along with BBC nature as a whole. As a child I'd watch them over and over and that interest passed over to the other sciences as a whole. He's the perfect person to get your kids into science as a whole. (I teach physics now).
  • by frooddude (148993) on Monday July 13, 2009 @11:41PM (#28686185)

    Bill Nye, my kids have the theme song memorized.

    Sid the Science Kid. Not bad really, drives the whole "it's not magic, figure it out!" thing.

    And just to throw in some non-TV things:

    Lego for the fine motor skills and figuring out how to make something cool

    Find a sport your kid is into. I can't stand baseball and I like soccer (playing at least), I don't know if it's genetic or what, but my son is much the same. Sports are cool because of things like gravity and all his friends.

  • Alton Brown (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy&tpno-co,org> on Monday July 13, 2009 @11:55PM (#28686301) Homepage

    Seriously. His show good eats does a wonderful job of investigating the science behind the food. He does so in such a way that makes you want to know more, which renders his detractor's accuracy claims moot. His show has helped me inspire my 5 year old daughter to question how things work the way they do. What better hero could you ask for?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Goldsmith (561202)

      I'm a scientist and I love Alton Brown's show!

      If we were half as creative in our lectures, science classes would be much more popular (and make more sense to more people).

      It is too bad that with very few exceptions, the "science" people most folks are aware of are actually cooks, special effects artists or politicians. It would be nice if more scientists were just known for good science.

  • Dr. Michio Kaku (Score:3, Informative)

    by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:03AM (#28686349)

    I actually like watching Dr. Michio Kaku on the science channel's SCI-Q. He seems to take abstract topics (Quantum Mechanics, String Theory) or stuff out of science-fiction (like time travel) and answer them in a easy to understand (but not Sesame Street) level. Here's 10 example questions from the show's website: http://science.discovery.com/questions/michio-kaku/michio-kaku.html [discovery.com]

  • by Shag (3737) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @12:28AM (#28686549) Homepage

    There are a lot of people who work in science education and public outreach. Staff at museums and planetaria, for example. Outreach people from research facilities (here on Mauna Kea, just about every observatory has official outreach people). And people who just think what they do is so fun and cool they want to share it with people.

    I'm fortunate enough to work in astronomy, and I love bringing my daughter up to the visitor station for stargazing or hiking, or video-chatting with her while operating or observing. I also volunteer at the visitor station, lead tours of the summit, and generally "reach out" to anyone who's interested. I don't get any observing time on the 8-meter I operate, but I just got offered some time on a 2-meter and am going to work with my daughter, my nephew and my neighbors' kids to come up with a project.

    These are 8-14 year olds, so they can probably weigh in on whether we should look at asteroids, kuiper belt objects, supernovae, black holes, or whatever. But I started in the field when my daughter was 5, and even though the first few years she was mostly just wanting to look at stuff in the sky, and not caring so much about what it actually was, she's grown up knowing that her dad gets to do really cool stuff, instead of just sitting in a cubicle. Probably also doesn't hurt that she has autographed photos of a couple NASA astronauts she's met. :)

    There are a lot of science outreach activities in our town, like AstroDay [astroday.net] and Onizuka Science Day and robotics competitions and all that... plus public talks, the world's first 3-D planetarium, and... okay, okay, the whole farkin' island is one giant playground for any kid (or adult) who's into natural sciences at all.

    Find your local science museums or science centers or observatories or planetaria or whatever, find out who handles the local robotics competition, etc. Plenty of unknown heroes out there.

    Oh, one word of advice, though: don't expect the kids to go for your favorite science. I may be an astro-geek, and her mom's a social scientist, but my daughter tends more toward chemistry.

  • F1 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vigmeister (1112659) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:06AM (#28686829)

    Get them to follow F1. The competitive nature and the inherent coolness of racing cars will get them hooked. The breadth in sciences covered by the sport is pretty cool ranging from the biology of weight loss from dehydration of the drivers to the electronics behind precision timing. It is a breathtakingly awesome sport even when none of the competitors are performing well.

    P.S. Be very careful to make sure they do not start watching any other programming on SpeedTV!

    Cheers!
    --
    Vig

  • by ocularDeathRay (760450) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @01:13AM (#28686865) Journal
    gotta go with Forrest M. Mims III. I know there are some people out there rolling there eyes because of his stance on intelligent design, but you are missing the point. This is the guy who wrote all the books about electronics radio shack used to sell. Those books are still available, although the price is a little higher now that the shack doesn't stock them. I just saw them at Fry's though, so I know they are readily available. I started reading those books and tinkering with electronics in the 4th grade. It gave me a lifelong love of electronics and science. I still rely on the stuff I learned from those books twenty years later. Check out his website. Whether or not you agree with his conclusions, his inventions and experiments are exactly the kind of stuff I would want my kids to do.
  • Brian Cox (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zoeblade (600058) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @03:20AM (#28687449) Homepage

    Seeing as everyone else has Adam Savage, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins pretty well covered, and you already know about Carl Sagan and presumably Richard Feynman and J. Bronowski, I should probably add Brian Cox to the list.

    He's a particle physicist at CERN, and has an unrealistic level of enthusiasm for absolutely everything. It seems a good bet that the physicist in Sunshine was based on him, especially considering that he was the science consultant for the film. He's in a whole bunch of documentaries enthusing about how great the latest scientific discoveries are.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I'd have to go with Brian Cox as well; his enthusiasm really comes across in the BBC documentaries he has fronted. Plus he was a Rock Star before getting his PhD (OK, keyboard player for one-hit wonders D:Ream, but still...). Plus he's married to a TV Sports presenter. Oh, and for anything maths related, Marcus du Sautoy has many of the same 'enthusiasm combined with real knowledge' qualities.

  • Videos and books (Score:5, Informative)

    by zoeblade (600058) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @04:09AM (#28687713) Homepage

    In addition to names of the people themselves, can anybody recommend any good science documentaries/talks/books? I'd recommend the following:

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @07:16AM (#28688693)

    No one had the time to mention Kari or Grant from the Mythbusters, but they had time for a 200 post off topic flamewar about religion and science? Yes not exactly post graduate education there, but the question was about "excited" and "heros". Whats not to like about Kari and Grant?

    No one mentioned Shawn Carlson and the SAS?

    http://www.sas.org/ [sas.org]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_for_Amateur_Scientists [wikipedia.org]

    At least Forrest Mims got like one comment, even if people shun him for his peculiar church beliefs (not exactly a very enlightened attitude).

  • by JThundley (631154) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @09:07PM (#28698731) Homepage

    There's a cool show on the History channel called "The Universe". They have very intelligent and interesting people talking about science while entertaining with mind-blowing cgi graphics. Check it out.

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