Physics and the public: Science as illusion

Alison Abbott in Nature:Magic

It seemed rude to leave the lecture hall when the president of the Max Planck Society had generously given the floor to a representative of the “young generation of researchers” in whose hands lie the “future of science”. Still, when Thomas Fraps thanked the society for the opportunity to speak for “55 minutes on some of the many promising themes in science and medicine”, some at the back did quietly slip away.

The remaining audience grew visibly impatient as Fraps warmed to his theme. “My generation is aware of its growing responsibility to bring to the public an informed transfer of new scientific knowledge from the interdisciplinary dialogue within our universities…” They had already sat through a long evening of televised discussion on bioethics, and there was something annoyingly smug, even odd, about this guy. And was his tie really getting longer?

Fraps stepped away from the podium and began self-importantly to clean his glasses with a silk handkerchief from his pocket. Then he pulled the cloth straight through the lenses, flicked the silk to one side and revealed, in his previously empty hand, a glass of orange juice. “Cheers!” he said, taking a sip.

More here.