Let’s play a little game.
Without cheating (aka Wikipedia), can you name the 2014 Academy Award winners for best actor? How about best actress? What about the name of Kim and Kanye’s spawn? Beyonce and Jay-Z’s?
Now, who won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine? Chemistry? Physics?
I’d be willing to be that the vast majority of you had no trouble coming up with correct answers to the first four questions. I know this in the same way I know that the vast majority of you have no idea who won last year’s most prestigious awards in science.
This is not your fault. At all. You’d have to live under a rock not to know that Leonardo DiCaprio was passed over for an Oscar YET AGAIN. (Seriously people, isn’t it time?!). Or that celebrities continue to bestow their children with inexplicable names. Now you might have heard of Francois Englert and Peter Higgs, but only because their boson was splashed all over the news and rightfully so.
However, until 10 minutes ago when I looked them up, even I had never heard of James Rothman/Randy Schekman/Thomas Sudhof (Physiology/Medicine) or Martin Karplus/Michael Levitt/Arieh Warshel (Chemistry). And I’m theoretically a scientist (more or less). The first group discovered vesicle trafficking inside the cell. The second group figured out how to calculate the course of molecular chemical reactions. I had a college cell bio professor once tell me “life is molecules changing shape.” Ipso facto, these people are literally answering the questions of life! That’s what scientists do.
Unfortunately, scientists are also terrible at PR. It’s not that Nobel laureates aren’t interesting or that their work isn’t exciting. It’s just that no one ever talks about it! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, research for research’s sake is useless. We live in an increasingly interconnected world, its time to climb down from the ivory tower and make science accessible to everyone.
Enter The Ocean180 Video Challenge.
This contest is designed to connect marine research to the public. The added bonus of a cash prize never hurt anyone either. In an age when ocean health is deteriorating at an exponential rate, this type of communication is more important that ever. In a nutshell, this is an opportunity for marine scientists to share their research, to start a dialogue about various marine systems and why they are significant. We have the power to change the perception that science is boring or too technical. We have the ability to create a new culture in which the Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies are more popular than the Academy Awards. After all, aren’t coral reefs more interesting than Kardashians?