In our vigilant monitoring of the popular media for all things science-related, we’ve identified an emerging trend: scientists as fashion accessories. In just the last few weeks both GQ and Louis Vuitton have inserted scientists and/or astronauts into glossy fashion shoots.
The GQ layout, “The Rock Stars of Science,” introduces a public service campaign that matches musicians with leading researchers in different medical fields to highlight the need for additional research funding. The featured scientists include Francis Collins, Harold Varmus and Anthony Fauci, all of whom have been mentioned in DISCOVER recently, so we can’t quarrel with the science cast or the cause.
My beef is with the rock stars. Joe Perry? Sheryl Crow? Seal? It’ s beyond me why GQ couldn’t find anyone who had produced a meaningful hit in the last ten years. How about Tunde Adebimpe from TV on the Radio (bonus: album is called “Dear Science“)?
A recent episode of the “This American Life” podcast (episode #329: “Nice Work If You Can Get It”) opens with an amusing rundown of what astronauts actually spend their time doing now that there are almost no manned spaceflights. The answer was mostly: go to lots of meetings in Houston.
The more interesting revelation was that the astronauts get their vicarious space thrills by watching Farscape and Battlestar Galactica. Aside from being “hugely jealous” of the capacity for interstellar space flight, one of the astronauts pointed out that classic BSG Viper/Star Wars X-Wing Fighter design is pretty dumb:
“All of those shows assume that there is some sort of magical gravity thing so that when you’re in your vehicle, you know, everybody’s all walkin’ on the floor. Well, not in our space program.
“They’ve got fighter jet flying. They have pointy noses and wings and they make them look like fighters. None of that is any advantage when there’s no atmosphere.
“You could be a box and have the same maneuverability. The Borg had it right. They’re a big cube and they’re perfectly maneuverable, as opposed to the little star fighter with the pointed nose and the wings and the engine in the back.”