Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Hubble

Two day. Nicely sparse in gym. The podcasts, science day, were all too concerned with the twenty-fifth anniversary of Hubble. I can’t get too worked up I fear. It’s a nice thing to do from a science standpoint but not a part of science that I do work in. Which means it is about as alien to my concerns as the Gobi desert is to Alibam. 

I was taken by one thing. They interviewed some staffer who was an astrophysicist. That part makes sense. But what he talked about was that before Hubble he couldn’t explain to his aunt how what he did was good for anything. 

That’s a question we all get from relatives. What do you do? and What good is it? If the relatives are nerds or geeks they have little problem accepting, if not understanding, your answers. If they’re bogs no answer will be illuminating, edifying, or satisfactory. I learned a long time ago not to really care. It upsets elders to be shrugged at when they say they don’t get your answer but if you’re the black sheep it actually helps. And if you are a nerd in a family of bogs, you are a black sheep. I’m not sure of the opposite. 

The problem that is a paradigm of explaining science to bogs is epitomized by the Hubble. All they think of is the pretty pictures. I have even heard politicians complain about how all that Hubble (and NASA) does (do) is produce pretty pictures to impress the proles. But most of the bogs do like the pictures – as do the geeks and nerds – but never care about what the Hubble really does. And what good it is.

That’s the fundamental problem of outreach as it’s called these days, of explaining science to bogs. They can’t understand because they don’t want to learn. Ain’t interesting. (Yes, I used the “I” word.) So all telling them what science is, is just irritating and frustrating them. You have to give them circus, not symposium. 

Sadly Hubble is the astronomical equivalent of Hunter-Gatherer elders sitting on the prairie waiting on the dire wolves to eat them. With the demise of the shuttle, no more service flights. So what circus do we have coming up to offer the bogs? Not, I think, the Webb telescope. 

No wonder science is failing in Amerika.