This year's World Science Fair, as in its previous incarnations, once again assumes that the best way to make science interesting to lay people is through celebrity art.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Festival highlights included Broadway veterans performing a song about galaxies and calculus, and the Orchestra of St. Lukes performing a Philip Glass piece while actor John Lithgow narrated a dramatization of a children's book by physicist Brian Greene about a boy who flies to a black hole.
In the process, however, as David Zax observes in his opinion piece in Saturday's Wall Street Journal, "precious little science had actually been communicated."
Instead, in an eery reflection of today's k12 science classes, the festival's goal seems to be science appreciation. As Brian Green put it when Zax asked him about the performances, "I think it's a powerful way of experiencing science, and I think the audience felt that."
But what does scientific appreciation amount to in the absence of scientific content--especially in a country in which, as Zax reports, less than half the population knows that atoms are larger than electrons?