Ira Flatow • Pop culture is embracing geeks and an NPR host looks to capitalize on that.
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Science loversno longer need to make excuses for their giddiness over the latest cosmic photograph or subatomic particle discovery.
"Science is getting sexier these days," said Ira Flatow, host of National Public Radio'sScience Friday. "Being a nerd is coming back into vogue."
He points to shows such as "Big Bang Theory" featuring über-geeks who spend most of their time in their living room, lab or comic book store which draws more viewers than nearly any other television show.
Flatow is capitalizing on the pop-culture embrace of science in his radio show, which he will host live in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 19 at TheGrand Theatre on Salt Lake Community College's South City campus, 1575 S. State Street.
The show, though, isn't just for the pocket-protected.
"Science Friday's mission is to connect the public with scientists, to inform them about how they affect the direction science research takes," he said. "It shows that science is a part of everybody's life, from cooking to driving to your job. All have a basis in science and technology."
The most interesting part to Flatow is that people love to talk about science when they get the chance.
A recent analysis of which stories in The New York Times were most shared via email and social media showed stories about science led every other topic. Why? Because science stories inspired awe in readers, who then wanted to share that feeling with friends and family.
KUER is presenting the show, and general manger John Greene says Utah, the dinosaur capital of the world, makes for a great backdrop for Science Friday's large and loyal following. The weekly broadcast does only four live shows a year, and this will be the second time it has visited Utah. The last time was 1998.
"I think this has been an anti-science decade for political reasons," Greene said, pointing to NASA budget cuts and climate change denial, "but Utah is a really well educated state, so it doesn't surprise me they're coming back."
Guests for the Salt Lake show are still being finalized. But Flatow said Brian Switek, a dinosaur expert who wrote the book My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs, will make an appearance. So will University of Utah paleobiologist Randall Irmis.
"We look for topics with local connections but national relevance," he said, pointing to the story about the Great Salt Lake ecosystem he did on his previous visit.
For him, live shows are a treat.
"A live show is a whole different, living, breathing animal. You can feel the audience," he said. "It's a radio show with live bodies out there, who laugh, interact, applaud; the audience reacts to themselves. It's a whole wonderful new dynamic. We look forward to it every time we can do it."
Science Friday live
When • Friday, April 19, at 11:45 a.m.
Where • The Grand Theatre, 1575 S. State St., on the Salt Lake Community College South Campus, Salt Lake City
Tickets • Sold out
Info • www.the-grand.org; presented by KUER