Volume 95, Issue 77

Tuesday, February 19, 2002
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Dean: don't expect Toronto-like tuition

The Spoke no longer "The Smoke"

Presidential race ends with a whimper

Les femmes rural benefit from new Western chair

Nerdlinger laments lack of geeks

Trophy bandits and 500 crickets

New eateries slip through loophole

Nerdlinger laments lack of geeks

By Erin Conway-Smith
Gazette Staff

Known for making science fun for the less-than-scientifically-inclined, Jay Ingram, co-host and producer of the television program @discovery.ca, spoke at Western yesterday about "the tyranny of television."

Ingram, former host of CBC Radio's science program Quirks and Quarks, spoke about the difficulty he faces trying to communicate science to a general audience that has little scientific knowledge.

"[Only] five per cent of the general public can understand a science article in Time magazine," he said.

Ingram said his job is to figure out effective ways to make complex scientific vocabulary understandable, often through the help of visual aids.

"With a beautifully-designed visual, you can convey a huge amount of information," he said.

However, he noted that state-of-the-art graphics are less clear when there isn't an educator directly pointing out the relevant information.

Ingram discussed the abilities and limitations of television to tailor the presentation of information, noting examples of "embodied conversational agents" like Ananova, the Internet news host.

"Pictures are great, but we always need a human voice or image to help us along," he said.

Ingram also spoke about the differences between presenting science news on television as opposed to radio. "Some subjects work better on television than on radio because they have great pictures," he said.

Subjects like the Big Bang are better done on radio because television demands the use of good pictures. "If you don't have good pictures, you wish you were doing radio.

"The necessity of having pictures is the tyranny of television," he said.

Like David Suzuki, Ingram makes science and nature comprehensible to a general audience, said Ryan White, a second-year biology student.

"I watch his show – it's interesting news for me and keeps me up on the science world," he said.

Ingram's visit to Western was sponsored by the Reader's Digest Foundation, a special grant that enables guest lecturers to visit Western and speak to students in the master's of journalism program, said Gloria Leckie, associate dean of the faculty of information and media studies.

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