Science, Science and Society, Technology

Marvellous scientific social media

I think we can all agree that NASA is pretty awesome*.

nasa logo

Additionally to their being involved in brilliant things like shuttles (well…), space stations, rockets, telescopes and other goodness, their engagement with the public (viz. other earthlings) is not bad at all.  They have a website, photo galleries to make one weep, a youtube channel, a twitter stream**, and so on and so forth.

But what they don’t have, at least according to one Reid Gower, is the ability to communicate their hopes and dreams in a way which allows the public to relate to them.  Something at which, to be frank, an…unfortunately large number… of non-private organisations are pretty awful.

And this is important, because it’s the public’s goodwill which is a critical influence on the extent to which NASA is funded.  Clearly that goodwill ain’t there as much as it used to be, because NASA has seen a seriously serious amount of budget cuts recently.

So, our young hero decided to do something about this.  He’s produced, on his own initiative, The Sagan Series (Part 5 out tomorrow) - an incredible set of 3 minute clips, for NASA.  Watch them.  I dare you not to weep***.

First video is embedded below - you’ll easily find the rest (of which I think number 3 is particularly powerful).


And support our man Reid.  He’s on twitter and facebook, too.  He’s a powerful example of what ordinary people can do with passion, internet access and some basic editing skills.

In other ‘I want to cry I’m so moved’ moments, please, please do watch Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos‘ if you’ve not already.  I’m firmly of the opinion that it should be mandatory watching for all school pupils.  _Before_ they decide whether or not they want to take science and science-related subjects.


* If you can’t, please do step forward so we can explain :)

** Also, check out astronaut Soichi Noguchi‘s awesome stream (he’s a Japanese astronaut, and pretty involved with the ISS)

*** And want to _immediately_ build**** rockets/spaceships so that you might explore our universe

**** Or fund those who can.  Such as, I dunno, NASA…

  • Edward

    Amazing. Thank you for that.

  • Michael Birks

    Is that actually Carl Sagan’s voice?

    If it’s not, it’s a damn fine imitation. The intonation and pacing are brilliant.

  • aimee whitcroft

    That’s really his voice - absolutely unmistakeable :)

  • ursula

    Funny how I brought my children up with astronomy, telescopes, science magazines left strategically in the bathroom etc. and funny how they are both now in art, computer graphics and animation….there’s such a lot they do that has space as a theme and never realised until I mentioned it. So they are not strictly scientists, but they get the message out there by other means. And yes, they have seen Cosmos. Hmm, must watch it again.

  • Andrew Worth

    Hi Aimee

    I take the Rand Simberg position on space, for the vast majority of those who foot the NASA bill, space isn’t important.

    Also, while I think Space is awesome, NASA I think is much less so.

  • Ryan Allen

    That’s the coolest, thanks for posting. I think funding should be directed at life extension with a view of immortalism. Because if they don’t, how am I going to witness all the awesome that is discovered in the distant future!

  • aimee whitcroft

    Hi Andrew - I’d be interested to hear your misgivings about NASA :) And also, and I realise this sounds callous, but that’s the problem - people may think it’s not important, but it is. Anyway, the NASA bill is minute compared to other bills consistently footed by the taxpayer…

    Ryan - absolutely agreed. However, the resulting population explosion might necessitate our, oh I dunno, having somewhere to put everyone?

  • Andrew Worth

    Out of sheer laziness I’ll just repost what I said at Centauri Dreams:

    NASA and politicians have all but killed the dream.

    With the Shuttle program they’ve convinced us that space flight has to be hard and expensive,
    With their hostility to paying passengers they’ve robbed space flight of its largest potential source of revenue,
    and with their hostility to the competition of commercial space they’ve denied the opportunity for the marketplace to find the best ways to get into space.

    NASA is the Aeroflot of space, maybe things are now changing, but those changes should have happened decades ago.

    “people may think it’s not important, but it is”

    I’m afraid that’s largely a subjective judgment, generally people have other interests in their lives that are more important to them.

  • aimee whitcroft

    Interesting point re. NASA, certainly :)

    As to the subjective statement, apologies, I should have been more clear: what people narrowly see as what is important to them in their day-to-day lives, is not necessarily the same as what is important culturally/socially etc. Simply look at AGW/climate change as an example…

  • Andrew Worth

    “apologies” No need, I knew what you meant by “it’s important” which is why I said “Largely subjective”, but even in the wider context there are persuasive arguments that Space, outside of commercial satellites, isn’t as important as space enthusiasts like to think. We could live quite happily on our Pale Blue Dot, with no further exploration outside of GEO, for as long again as humanity has already existed. That’s not my preferred future, but it’s not a disastrous future either.

  • aimee whitcroft

    Absolutely we _could_, but that’s assuming that we stop screwing our planet and breeding like flies. Neither of which I have much hope any time soon :)

  • Michael Birks

    Crudely considering the distributions of birth rate and environmental footprint, it looks like it’s one or the other.

    If we’re not screwing the planet, we’re screwing each other.

  • aimee whitcroft

    michael - well, quite :)