Scientists aren’t very good at telling stories.
That’s a generalization, but true. I’m constantly cajoling scientists to tell me the story — hell, any story, any anecdote, any remotely narrative nugget — of their work. More scientists than you’d expect are good at simplifying a complicated technology or theory into layman’s terms. And many are good, sometimes too good, at distilling years of research into a few “bottom line” bullet points. But the scientist who tells a real story — where people do things in some kind of compelling sequence and ultimately arrive at something new — is rare.
So rare that last week I paid $10.70 to hear a few at an event called The Story Collider. Every month, a half-dozen people take the stage in the basement of a popular Brooklyn bar. Each gets 10 to 15 minutes to entertain a packed audience of 120 beer-drinking hipsters with a tale of science. Story Collider’s mission is to demonstrate that science affects all of us, every day, and most of the performers aren’t scientists. But some are, and their stories don’t disappoint.
Last week, for example, evolutionary biologist Diane Kelly told us about her research on armadillo penises.
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