How to Speak Science – Bruce Benamran

I’m a big fan of science. I positively enjoy science programming on tv (up to and including some of the more gruesome medical ones – I’m sure I recall watching televised surgery back in the 1980s) and like to think that I am more in tune with the rationality of science than more ‘touchy-feely’ practices. This doesn’t, however, mean that I am completely up to speed with all aspects of the subject. I liked chemistry at school, I think I have a good grasp of evolutionary theory but physics is something I’ve always struggled with. So, a book with the subtitle ‘Gravity, Relativity and Other Ideas That Were Crazy Until Proven Brilliant’ seemed perfect for filling in some of my knowledge gaps (and would be kinder than asking Rob to explain it all to me). The author is best known as a YouTube science communicator and promised a maths-free jaunt through the best bits of science history: it sounded like just my sort of thing.

41721806From the very beginning it is obvious that Benamran takes a very humourous approach to science education. While I was reading this book Rob had to get used to me giggling and reading bits out for his amusement – which is great as I’m a firm believer that if a thing is worth understanding it is worth understanding via the medium of humour. I think I got to grips with magnetism, atoms and even relativity but still failed to get to grips with mechanics. Everything else I could just about visualise in some way (although I did get a little confuddled with the explanation of time dilation involving virtually every American president I’ve ever heard of…) but I’ve definitely got a blind spot where mechanics are concerned. Lets just hope I never have to explain it in a life-or-death situation…There are some running gags in the book which I laughed at the first couple of times, then got a bit bored of, and then ended up looking for in a fond way – this sounds like a quality I admire in a teacher: the moment you look forward to their jokes. (Or ge-okes as my old geography teacher Mr Bogdin used to say…)

This is a great book for anyone wanting to understand more about some of the big concepts in science but who doesn’t have a very science-heavy educational background. For those who do have a good solid science education this would be a good source of ways to explain things involving far more analogies than formulae – more pirate’s eye patches and goats in trees than hard sums.  Science teachers of the future, I’m looking at you!

Jane

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