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ACM Opinion

How Science Became Cool

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University of Manchester professor of particle physics Brian Cox

University of Manchester professor of particle physics Brian Cox on the Matanuska Glacier in Alaska.

Credit: BBC

Over the last few years, I have definitely noticed a shift in the public's attitude towards science: from viewing it as a useful sideline in society—a valuable pursuit for the boffinous few, that ultimately looks after itself—to a cause worth fighting for, which has the power to change society for the better.

A growing appreciation of the low-cost, high-value and good old-fashioned solidity of science and engineering has, I believe, contributed to the new public mood. The sheer ambition and scale of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project has fired the imagination of many. The dramatic pictures of the Martian surface from the Opportunity and Spirit rovers, and the unparalleled beauty of Saturn and its moons as seen by the ongoing Cassini mission, grace a million computer screensavers.

This confluence of factors has seeded a fragile but strengthening movement. There is a recognition that the real world, revealed to us by machines is more rich, beautiful and satisfying than the vacuous meanderings of pseudoscience—and a realization that we must fight for science and rationality in our society if we want to preserve them, because they are both fragile and immensely valuable.

From The Guardian
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