Driving, earthquakes, and science communication


Finally, a quiet moment to catch up on the endless stream of things I want to write about!

This week, at my instructor’s suggestion, I did a mock driving test. I wasn’t sure about doing it, but it really helped me in a way I didn’t expect. In the absence of instruction and continual feedback, I was forced to recognise that I am actually doing the driving, and I felt a kind of confident sensation of presence, of really fully being in the driving seat and deserving to be there. And it struck me that this is a process that is happening in lots of areas of my life simultaneously. I’m finally starting to find my courage, starting to fully inhabit my own life… starting. About time! (BTW, I failed the test, of course πŸ˜† – only a couple of serious errors though!! I still have a couple of months until the real one.)

A pattern I found in earthquake data has been found in human communications too. I find that so cool… Basically quite a lot of phenomena that come in discrete events – like earthquakes, messages, and quite possibly blog posts(!) – have an element of random initiation and also an element of clustering in time (aftershocks), so they can show some similar statistical properties which you wouldn’t necessarily think they would share. I love that!

Last week I was fortunate enough to go on a 3-day course called “Research, Researchers and the Media” about communicating science to the public. It culminated in recording a 20-minute radio programme in the BBC studios in Glasgow – not to be broadcast, of course, but very exciting to do! The whole course was excellent and to be honest it took me well out of my comfort zone. No sooner had we arrived (almost) than we were given recording equipment and told to create both a TV and a radio news piece on a given subject, in groups of 9. The writing and recording was to be done in the morning and editing done in the afternoon with the help of the expert facilitators. Well, I nearly had kittens! By a process of elimination I was assigned to be the TV presenter; didn’t have time to write a script and had to basically wing it… but it’s AMAZING what you can do when you are put on the spot. Not that my performance was amazing – it really wasn’t πŸ˜‰ – but it definitely wasn’t the total failure I would have imagined. In a way that is the biggest thing I took away from it – the realisation that there are far too many things that I’ve been telling myself I “can’t” do, or hesitating, waiting to be sure, when I should really just go and do them.

Here are some pictures from the final day in Glasgow.

The mixing room:

The green (well, more like pink :P) room:

A recording room kitted out for doing radio dramas. The door leads to a kitchen and there is a bedroom at the top of the stairs – all for sound effects, not for actual use!

The multi-textured stairs:

In the recording booth:


8 responses »

  1. Here you are! I was just logging onto FB to send you a message, wondering where you’d vanished to. Always a pleasure to read what you’re thinking πŸ™‚

    I also find common patterns in the physical and ‘human’ domains to be….comforting, I guess. Order prevails, if you just look hard enough πŸ™‚

  2. Ha, ha…I’m like Lorri in thinking recently I needed to locate you! πŸ˜‰ Great to read this post and see what you’ve been up to. I laughed at your nearly having kittens! Funny lady! πŸ˜›

  3. Wow, I’m so glad you are finding your driving feet!! It was interesting to read about your experience at the course/conference. Amazing what we can do when we push ourselves out of that easy ‘ol comfort zone.

    You know, I nearly fell for your old blog posts. I was thinking “she didn’t tell me she was going to America” (nosey me) – then I realised it was from last year lol.

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