Are We Asking This Question? August 8, 2008Posted by gordonwatts in ATLAS, physics life, press.
There is a book review in the NYTimes right now by Overbye titled “Inside Story of the Telescope That Nearly Wasn’t Built” – about the Hubble.
The space agency wanted to make sure its long-awaited and astronomically expensive telescope — soon to be launched into orbit above the turbulent fog of the atmosphere — made an appropriately cosmic splash. The advice from those of us in the press peanut gallery was always the same and simple: pictures — cosmic postcards like the live pictures of other planets being transmitted from the Viking and Voyager spacecraft — early and often.
This is PR 101 — everyone, including us scientists, is easily captured by pictures. Especially stunning ones. Sure — they may not be the best way to convey accurate scientific measurements – but they are very easy to relate to. Are we doing the right thing for the start of the LHC? Do we know what pictures – science pictures – we are going to be pushing to the public?
ATLAS has a whole outreach group (as does CMS, I’m sure). We have the ATLAS Book. We have a movie. But what cool picture are we going to give the press when the science starts? Another picture of our detector – like the one attached to this blog posting? Surely we can do better. Our event displays – most are tuned for us to look at as scientists, not for the press or the public. Do we have anything?
Enough of my ideas. What should we have ready when science starts to roll out? At the Tevatron we write these plain-English-summaries. They aren’t totally plain, unfortunately. But perhaps we should get someone from the PR office to work with every analysis that is published to work on something like that?