T. V. Padma
South Asia regional coordinator, SciDev.Net
ESOF takes time off to discuss Einstein coping with the pressures of modern-day science careers. In 2010, a session wondered whether Einstein would have been on Facebook or Twitter (Relativity is so cool…wonder why some don’t get it. Hashtag??)
This year, a session addressed his chances of getting hired as an entrepreneur or science communicator, skills needed for scientists these days. The point is that relativity, and energy and mass equations are all very well, but how do you sell them as a business idea or communicate it to the public, for a promotion?
Barbara Diehl, from University of Oxford’s centre for entrepreneurship and innovation, advised young scientists to acquire some basics in business skills – understand business jargon, marketing and product development, basics of financing such as accounting, intellectual property rights, and networking skills.
Please do not underestimate the networking skills – you need to wear your badge on the right hand side, shake hands firmly, carry your business card, look after your appearance and breath, and so on.
I asked her how Eisntein would have rated against this formidable list. Given that he left his job as a patents clerk to embark on science, he probably had entrepreneurial skills, daring to follow up and sell his ideas, she said.
Diane Scherzler, a science journalist, explained to the audience on why and how writing a research paper on a complicated subject, which makes sense to a few peers but no one else, is different from writing a science news story on an unfamiliar topic, which should make sense to readers equally unfamiliar with the topic.
So how would have Einstein fared on that front? Here is Diane’s verdict. To him it was highly important to communicate with the public, and so a plus point. He was interested in many aspects of science, as a science journalist ought to be, and so another plus.
But as Diane admitted, “I have my doubts if this (science journalism) would have interested him”. But if he did veer towards it, he would “perhaps been a freelancer for a speciality international journal, or maybe a blogger”.
That feels good … and motivates me to keep blogging from more conferences, imagining Einstein in the media room with the laptop and cup of coffee that keeps us hacks going.
This blog post is part of our ESOF 2012 blog which takes place 11-15 July, 2012. To read news and analysis on themes related to the conference please visit our website.