May 2012

Someone from our community needs to win this.


Let’s be honest. A lot of us do what we do (astrobiology/planetary sciences) because we’re nerds. We grew up tinkering with chemistry kits, poking things in the mud, hacking our video game consoles, and generally consuming anything having to do with aliens. And today, we still do the same thing… except now we get paid for it. (Many get paid meagerly, sure, but it still pays.) And someone is about to try to make you famous for it. (I promise this is NOT another FameLab pitch.) Check it out…

Are you a super fan of STAR WARS, STAR TREK, HARRY POTTER, LORD OF THE RINGS, BATTLESTAR or DRAGONS and WIZARDS? Are you a GAMER who owns every console and maxes out trophies and achievements? Do you have an outrageous collection of TOYS and/or COMIC BOOKS? Are you passionate about MATHEMATICS, PHYSICS, BIOLOGY, etc? Do you build ROBOTS and write APPS and PROGRAMS for fun? Do you consider yourself a MAKER or DIY person? Have you ever been to BURNING MAN? Are you obsessed with SUPER HEROES? Are you a D&D, or WoW fanatic? Do you love everything SCI-FI? Are you ARDUINO proficient? Do you know at least 50 digits of Pi? Are you in MENSA?

I know a lot of our colleagues are highly skeptical of ventures like this. “Too much ATTENTION” they say. “Focus on your PAPERS” they say. Then they turn around and complain about how their last paper was misunderstood by “the PUBLIC.” And they’ll never understand the inconsistency in their positions. Sad, but true.

I think different. I say your average reality TV viewer could stand a little more nerd in their lives. And I say us scientists could stand a little more reality TV in ours. You’ll often hear people complain that American culture focuses too much on beauty and brawn but not enough on brains. Well, if you think that… it’s time to (w0)man up.

Furthermore… to the specific competition mentioned here, how do we want nerds perceived by the general public? If we’re not going to get the attention, who is? Do we want another “Sheldon” to get the limelight, and solidify the misconceptions about how introverted and socially awkward smart people are? OR… do we want someone like YOU to win, so that we can show people that there are those of us out there that can kick ass at science and still maintain a social life.

Science is an culture full of attention adverse individuals, all nestled within a broader culture obsessed with heaping attention on a few. That’s a bad combination, especially when we need heroes more than ever before.

So go win this thing. I’m too old to compete myself, but I’m not too old to cheer you on all the way. Go get ‘em.

UPDATE: The signup ends tomorrow, 5/23/2012. So if you’re interested let me know pronto via comment below or by email. I’ll help you get in touch with some of the people doing casting for the show. (Which is how I heard about this.)

S. Domagal-Goldman Posted by
S. Domagal-Goldman
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