Douglas Adams' book 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy' introduces the babelfish, a small yellow fish that "if you stick one in your ear, you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language".
After hearing on many occasions that science needs translating from technical language into something everyone can understand, I decided to have a go...
I'm new to this so will ease myself in with some posts about events I've attended recently about communicating science.
Friday, 25 September 2015
Week 2 with The Naked Scientists
Monday began as it did last week: searching for news. We
found a lot of interesting stories, and divided them between us. We all
struggled today, as most of the stories came from the USA, and so there was a
lot of waiting for people on the other side of the world to wake up!
The portable recording equipment
On Tuesday it became apparent that a few of the stories
weren’t going to work out, so I called a researcher from Cambridge whose paper
we had seen a press release for on the university website. The phone call did
not turn out as I wanted it to, and instead of doing a research call I ended up
booking a face to face interview with her for that afternoon! This prompted
some speedy tuition on how to use the mobile recording equipment (right), and some less
speedy navigation around Cambridge to find the zoology building.
I made it through the construction site and eventually found
the reception. I was then led down to the “beetle lab” where rows of boxes of
soil (and beetles!) were kept in cupboards. It was on the walk down that I
discovered the professor had actually been on Radio 4’s Today programme that
morning talking about her research! No pressure for her next interviewer then…
We got down to the lab and, after brushing the beetle off my
chair; I sat down and set up the recording equipment. Everything worked:
The interview went OK – she was excellent as she’d prepared
answers for the questions from Radio 4, but I could have done a bit better.
It’s definitely harder when you’re doing the interview face to face.
After another navigational fail, I made it back to the
office and successfully uploaded the audio from the interview before calling a
potential interviewee for Kat in the states. That all went OK so I went home on
Tuesday feeling pretty good!
Me getting nervous before my live Q&A!
The last one to leave the building
Wednesday morning saw the group meeting and editing my
piece. Chris then mentioned that he had a regular slot that evening on BBC
Radio Norfolk where he answered science questions live from the public. And
that he would like an intern to go along with him. Guess who volunteered! I
couldn’t decide if I was excited or terrified, but it did mean I spent most of
the rest of the day fretting. I did manage to get my news piece finished before
heading down to the studio and dialling up Chris.
We were soon live on radio! I was quite nervous at first,
which I’m sure you can tell, but as soon as I got a question I knew the answer
to I relaxed. I am very glad I did it, but I’m not sure I would have said that
at the time. You can listen here, starting at 2hrs10 ish.
Thursday saw some final editing tweaks and then writing up
the story to a news article. I discovered (too late) that you should never
re-record questions and cut them back in. This prevents any chance of twisting
what your interviewee has said. For me, this meant re-doing the edit I had spent
Wednesday afternoon doing! The end result was worth it though, and I was
pleased with the edit. It didn't make the news for 5live, but it has been published as a special. Thanks to Rebecca Kilner for talking to me!