Michał Krupiński (Institute of Nuclear Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences)
Scientists combine science with humor often and willingly. Scientific jokes (e.g. http://sciencejokes.blogspot.com) and cartoons (see http://www.phdcomics.com or http://xkcd.com) are proofs that researchers and especially PhD students have a sense of humor. However, the popularization of science is less associated with humor, which is merely treated as a small addition to scientific picnics, physics shows and open public lectures. It is an enrichment but not a tool of science popularization. The question is: Are scientists able to exploit the power of humor to reach a wider range of people ?
In 2008 physicists form the Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences created a scientific cabaret under the leadership of Jerzy Grębosz, who was both a text writer and a director. The comedy “The Spirit of Physics” was performed first time during the “Researchers’ Night” in Krakow on the open air stage. The actors were leading scientists of Institute of Nuclear Physics: professors, lecturers and PhD students. One of the role was played by outstanding physicist of elementary particles, head of the institute - prof. Marek Jezabek.
The play was attended by around 300 people and was very successful, which causes that the idea was repeated in the following years. In 2009 the comedy play “Newton’s Curse” attracted an even greater number of people gathered around open air stage. Considerable interest has resulted in a shift the scientific cabaret into the largest cinema in the city, where in 2010 about 900 spectators came to watch a comedy play “Stargate”.
Undoubtedly, this form of popularization of science requires much time and effort. It allows, however, to show that scientists are not goodies and science can also be fun. Creating a friendly image of the scientist is one of the most important objectives of science communication and can bring more benefits than the dry transfer of knowledge.
- see photos: http://www.ifj.edu.pl/~grebosz/film_ang_duch_fizyki.html
- other play combining science and art (more professional and more serious): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen_(play)
Do you know other scientific cabarets or scientific plays?