Making a date with science

Science communication is all about explaining science, and how scientists work, to audiences that wouldn’t normally be drawn to the subject. But all too often, science journalism targets audiences that are already turned on to science, so it is refreshing to see a piece of work that will draw in other audiences while continuing to make some serious points.

This was achieved last weekend in a Sunday Times piece by Charlotte Hunt-Grubbe on the use of DNA tests for assessing romantic compatibility. I think the story strikes a good balance between being based around a subject of wide interest (who isn’t interested in finding the perfect partner?), and communicating the science and its implications. Although the general tone of the article is light-hearted, it covers some serious issues. How should scientists balance the open publication of their findings for scrutiny by the scientific community, with the more stringent confidentiality needs of commerce? How can we be sure our genetic data won’t be misused? The blend works well and the science is accurate (and supported by experts). I am sure many people who wouldn’t normally read a science article have read this and have learned some science important for their life. They have also learned something about the way science operates and interfaces with society which is important too and rarely covered in the mainstream media. Definitely worth a read.


Written on May 27, 2009

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