suitti (suitti) wrote,

In Astronomy News

Without naming names or places, but we have an "In the news" segment at the club. And recently, one of the guys pointed out that between the 1st and the 6th of July, there were 30 distinct astronomy news stories. He then proceeded to read snippets from about 15 of them.

I have infinite patience. But this read like a dictionary. And it was, in my opinion, for two reasons. First, there were so many stories. But second, the way all these stories were written (and therefore read) has a fundamental flaw.

Let me back up just a bit. Here's how most astronomy (and probably by extension - science stories in general) are written. The first step is to pick up a science journal - like Science, Nature, Physical Review, etc. Skim until you find something that strikes you. Write up a summary in laymen's terms. Read it back and it sounds great.

However, the audience doesn't have your background. The recent Jupiter impact brings the 1994 SL9 strikes to mind. Incredibly exciting. But that was 15 years ago. Anyone under 25 won't remember them. I mean, at 25, you were 10. Short of guys bouncing around on the Moon, at 10, you're just not going to remember it.

What these stories need is context. If it's the Jupiter impact, you've got to mention SL9. Maybe a little digging will bring up the estimates of how often these things happen. Does it mean that Jupiter protects Earth from such impacts? Or does it mean that we should kick our planetary defence program into high gear or risk going the way of the dinosaurs? Without context, IMO, it's just a dictionary entry. Without context, it's not a story. Without a story, it's soon forgotten.

IMO, the best "In The News" segment anywhere is Megan's segment in "The Jodcast". It's all about context. Of course, having a sexy voice helps.
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