Six Skeptical Questions with Steve Nerlich

 Is this what you wanted to do when you were a kid? What first got you interested in your field?

I’m not really an astronomer, but I am a science communicator. As a kid (in the 60s) I regularly leafed through my parents collection of the Life: Nature Series. Wonderful. Buy your children slightly-incomprehensible science books with lots of photos and diagrams.

What was your first ‘A-ha!’ or ‘Woah’ moment?

The Life: Nature Series volume entitled The Universe.

 

What is the one thing from your field do you wish people just ‘got’?

No fun being a science communicator if people ‘get’ everything. I like ‘getting’ lay-people to an understanding of the lunar cycle. There’s often ‘A-ha!’ or ‘Woah’ moments when they get what underlies something so familiar.

 

Who’s the most interesting person you’ve learnt about in the course of your work?

Pamela Gay and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar who both put up with a good deal of mindless prejudice before becoming widely-regarded as awesome.

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing people in your field?

Finding a good soapbox.

 

What books/journals etc. do you suggest people read to learn more?

Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy is a great introduction to real astronomy and is done through a skeptical lens. Or come and see us at Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex (Tidbinbilla) and get lots of  ‘A-ha!’ or ‘Woah’ moments and free stuff.

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