The guys are rehearsing in the background but I’ve just grabbed
Now, you don’t have an academic science background do you?
No, not at all, in fact I think at school I was really quite put off with it because I think to some extent at school, certainly my generation, you were either arts or science and I went down the arts route and I saw science as something that other people did, partly I think because I was really bad at maths and I just didn’t get it, as an academic discipline I didn’t get it, I just didn’t get it, so I went off down that route. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be curious about the world. It doesn’t mean you can’t be fascinated by stuff, do you know what I mean, because I think there’s a problem that people equate, because people ask me all the time, hang on, you don’t have a science background, how come you’re into science, which is like saying, wait, hang on, you like music but you can’t read music. It’s like that. You don’t have to be able to read music to appreciate music and it’s the same sort of thing.
So, almost an implication that because you haven’t got an academic background you’re not allowed to like it, you’re not in the club.
Yeah it’s like, ah no, see you didn’t study science, you can’t love thinking about science and talking about science, which is daft, it is daft because science isn’t just an academic discipline, science is about, it’s what makes the world go round, it’s what makes us, what makes the universe work and we should all take - it’s just interesting, it just is interesting.
It’s almost like people are saying, you can’t be interested in science because you’re not in the club.
Yeah, a little bit. I think people are really put off I think by perhaps not being good at science at school so they sort of go, ah science, I don’t want to know, but you don’t have to have been good at studying science in order to love talking about science or thinking about science, and I think there’s a real change. I see the change from, certainly people in the arts, I look at loads of comedians for example who are just so into science. People like Robin Ince and people like Ricky Gervais, there’s suddenly this inner curiosity coming out and I think there is a real backlash against this whole idea that somehow in order to be curious about the world you need to have studied science, because it’s silly.
And of course so much of science is art as well.
When you look down a microscope, it’s beautiful as well as fascinating.
Of course it is and it’s about, yeah, it’s about stories and it’s about thinking about things and yeah, it’s what makes us human, being curious about the world. It’s not just confined to a little box. It’s part of the whole human experience.
So, you would say even if you were turned off at school by science, don’t be frightened of it, get out there, get nosey?
Yeah, absolutely, I still can’t do maths but that in no way stops me.
I’m a scientist and I can’t do maths!
But do you know what I mean? Yeah, I love reading about science, even when I was a kid even though academically I was bad at school I still adored watching science programmes. I grew up watching BBC Science, I grew up watching Tomorrow’s World, I grew up watching Horizon and I loved them, I loved them, but somehow when I was at school…. You know what it is, when I was at school it was focusing on the minutiae of things, of science, but if you allow yourself to step back and not worry about that and just look at the big picture, it’s fantastic, it’s beautiful, it’s awe inspiring, and exciting, and it’s an adventure, and it’s great.
Although I think you’ve actually done a piece on atoms,
It doesn’t get much smaller than that, does it?
But you know what I love, as a non-scientist if you like, standing at the very edge of knowledge, standing at the point where nobody, where knowledge ends and actually looking over the edge and seeing what’s there. And for me personally talking about theoretical physics and talking to theoretical physicists and looking, for instance we went to CERN a couple of weeks ago, it’s mind blowing, it’s mind expanding, it’s looking at the fundamental things, the structure of the universe and what could be more fascinating than that?
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