January 16th, 2013

Stewie victory

Open questions in science

Some time ago, I wanted to do a PhD, but I never did. I couldn't seem to find that one topic that would truly inspire me, that would capture my attention for at least three years, and possibly up to seven. I knew that if I chose the wrong subject, or even the wrong institute, the odds of my completing it would be drastically reduced. I discovered recently the number of doctoral students who don't finish is staggering. More than half of computer and information sciences doctoral candidates drop out, for example.

I like to look at the big picture, at lots of different things. Perhaps that's the problem. Perhaps there isn't a single topic that would grab me in that way for long enough. But how can I be sure?

Anybody who knows me, or has read this blog for that matter, will know that science communication is important to me. It's not enough that I know or understand something, I want to help others to understand it too. In my not so humble opinion, there's no point in making the biggest scientific discovery in history, if you don't tell anybody you've done it. Communication is important.

It occurred to me about a year ago, that these things are connected. Indeed, I realised there are LOTS of problems which are connected. Do the public trust scientists? I don't think they do, as a general rule, and why should they? Only a fool would trust somebody when they don't know what said person is doing, and the public tends to only hear about science in the past tense. That is not a good thing.

So I decided to do something about it. I created a new website, and a company to run it. I created a team of people to help make it a reality, and TWDK was born. The idea is simple: to explain all the open questions of science, in simple language. But there's a catch, of course. There's a LOT of open questions, from Why Bother with Biofuels? to Why do we yawn? So many questions, in fact, that even with a team we need a lot of time (and some money) to make it happen. So those links, as you may have guessed, are to example articles, while we develop the main site.

If you'd like to know more, I won't post much here. But the TWDK blog features updates on the company's progress as well as science posts, so you should be able to find everything you want to know over there :)