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Explaining condensed matter physics and technical subjects to the lay audience...

  1. Jun 9, 2017 #1
    I'm currently working in condensed matter theory. Looking at other fields of physics, it seems easy to relate them to a lay audience; for example, in explaining why you study physics, a high energy physicist could go on about the 4 fundamental forces and searches for a unifying theory of gravity. A cosmologist could explain the birth and expansion of the universe; an astrophysicist cosmos interactions, etc. In condensed matter, I find quasiparticle birth and death interesting, creating new "particles" by manipulating systems in interesting ways.

    I usually try to relate this to a lay audience by giving a metaphor of "the wave" starting at a sports game; each person is an individual particle, but when acting together they generate a wave which has its own particle characteristics. What would you say is the most interesting part of your field, and how would you relate it to a lay audience?

    << Mentor Note -- thread edited slightly to remove references to "philosophy", which this thread is not about >>
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 9, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2017 #2

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    I can relate a story where a laypersons understanding is completely different from the reality of the profession. I was working as a programmer at a major company around the time of the microcomputer revolution. I had just gotten a Radio Shack TRS-80 with printer and floppy disk drive.

    My dads coworker at the local grade said his teenaged son was interested in computers and so my Dad invited him over to talk to me. I showed him my cool TRS-80 and his first question was how do I slide my homework in it so that it can do it for me. I was stunned for a moment and then had to explain that while the computer could do your homework you had to tell it how to do it thru programming. After that his interest waned.

    Nowadays, that wouldn't happen because everyone knows you play games on computers right?
     
  4. Jun 10, 2017 #3

    mfb

    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    Maybe it was just a bit too early.
     
  5. Jun 10, 2017 #4
    If they could write my research proposals that would be great
     
  6. Jun 10, 2017 #5

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

  7. Jun 10, 2017 #6

    mfb

    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

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