Leon Lederman, 1988 Nobel Prize winner and former director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, on the importance of communicating science and the need for journalists and scientists to better understand each other.
“I have the naive idea that all science can be communicated. Whether it can be packaged in 90 seconds or 900 seconds is a totally different issue, and we are going to have to do a lot more in the way of communicating with one another before we can understand that part of the problem. It’s important for scientists to understand more about what one means by ‘news.’
“Does it always have to have immediacy or can some fraction of it deal with issues that have devastating long-range implications? For instance, your garbage is going to be collected now. But if you don’t do something about the problem of waste disposal it won’t be in the future and things will have decayed irretrievably…
“You can make the most exotic science understandable, communicating enough of it to give a sense of what we scientists are trying to do without having to give all of the many details. It’s clear that both communities—scientists and the media—have to work hard to communicate with one another, and that’ a very crucial problem.”