Steve Mould is a science presenter with a Masters degree in Physics from Oxford University. Steve was the resident scientist on ‘Blue Peter’ for many years and currently tours as one of the Guerrilla Scientists and as part of ‘Festival of the Spoken Nerd’, and also runs the site ‘Maths Gear.’
I think having a better understanding of the world makes you a better member of it.
On becoming interested in science
I first got interested in science as a kid. I was always inquisitive about the world. I probably couldn’t really put a date on it, I just think I’ve always been really interested in science. I remember – this is a story my Mum tells – when I was very young, I asked her if I could read Albert Einstein’s relativity book, his book on relativity, and that’s when she realised I was probably very interested in science. So [when you ask] who my role model is, I would have to say Einstein. I know it’s a cliché. But his way of thinking, and not just in relativity but in quantum mechanics as well, two areas of physics that you really have to just throw away your intuitions and just trust the maths, and that was an amazing thing that he did. What if the maths is true and what does that mean and he sort of just ran with it and it becomes this really counter-intuitive sort of thing, so he’s amazing for that.
On the joy of science
The joy of science is understanding how things work. There’s a, that ‘aha’ moment, you know, when you figure something out is, ah, I’ve never found anything else like it, um, yeah, it’s just that joy of finding something out. So I think it’s great that science is becoming more popular and it may mean that, ah, um…nah, I just think it’s great! There’s nothing else to say. I don’t think it can possibly be bad. Then, I suppose if science becomes very popular then hipsters will decide it’s not cool but I think we’re a long way off that! And if science is being attacked by hipsters that’s quite a, that’s probably a badge of honour I imagine. No? I suppose that there’s a worry that the more mainstream it becomes the more it will be scrutinised by people that don’t understand it but I think that’s always going to be countered by people who understand it and the more discourse, the more public discourse, the better.
On science in daily life
I think it’s human nature to just go about your daily life and not really be aware of, ah, these grand ideas that are influencing your life. I mean, the classic example is the inability to move on climate change, you know, because it doesn’t affect our everyday life. It’s gonna affect the lives of generations from now and that’s kind of human nature. So, yeah, that’s always a problem and that’s something we’re gonna have to, that we have to improve.
I think knowing about science makes you a better citizen. It makes you a better voter. It makes you a better patient. Yeah, it makes you a better companion, a better friend, ah, if you can understand the way the world works. If you can understand, ah, if you can vote for a politician who’s interested in evidence based policy because you have an understanding of science then that makes you a better citizen, for example. But, in general, I think having an understanding of the world makes you a better member of it.