Nature of Things 2012: Sharing Science Stories

In Nature of Things 2012: Sharing Science Stories, we heard from a scientist-turned-filmmaker, one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists, a renowned science journalist, and two of the most innovative sound designers working in radio today. Explore the transformative power generated by the collision between great science and great storytelling. 

Over the course of four lecture events, master science storytellers working in a variety of different media shared amazing science stories and discussed the challenges of communicating complex scientific ideas




"Storytelling: Clear Proof Scientists Descended from Humans"

Lecture by Randy Olson

Scientists often have a hard time with the idea of storytelling.  Many even suffer from "storyphobia,” the irrational fear of "bending the science to tell a better story." But Randy Olson, a scientist-turned-filmmaker, believes scientists descended from humans and still possess vestiges of storytelling skills that can make their communications more effective. Listen to Olson's lecture for an exploration on the crucial role of storytelling in the mass communication of science.


"Neuroplasticity: New Stories about Your Brain"

Lecture by Sharon Begley

There are always stories behind the science stories--that is, human dramas that underlie scientific discoveries. Nowhere is that truer than in neuroscience, which has undergone a revolution over the last 20 years. Listen to Sharon Begley's lecture where she shares an astonishing story with implications for health, disease, and emotional balance featuring, among others, a scientist who thinks he can cure dyslexia, a blind Turkish painter, and the Dalai Lama.




"Making Tricky Science into Sticky Stories"

Lecture by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich - Hosts of WNYC's Radiolab

Radiolab is public radio’s cult sensation about science, wonder and discovery.  With curiosity and wit, co-hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich use sound to illuminate ideas and blur boundaries between science, philosophy and human experience. In this installment of the Nature of Things 2012 Lecture Series, Jab and Robert discussed the elements that make a good story great and delve into why some stories – like climate change – are terribly boring and problematic to tell.


"Why Science Matters"

Keynote Lecture by Dr. Brian Greene

In Dr. Brian Greene's lecture he engaged the lecture series audience in a whirlwind exploration of one science story -- the quest to unravel some of the biggest mysteries of space and time -- and come away with a visceral understanding of why science matters.

Greene distills impossibly complex theoretical physics, like the concept of the multiverse, into a form we can all understand, and is dedicated to sharing science stories with broad audiences to combat perceptions of science as cold, distant, or irrelevant. Greene argues that understanding the transformative power of science – just like great music, art, or literature -- should be considered an indispensable part of what makes life worth living.




Nature of Things Founding Underwriter: R. Harold Burton Foundation
Gold Sponsor: Rio Tinto | Kennecott Utah Copper

Silver Sponsors: The Clark Foundation, The Nature Conservancy in Utah

Bronze Sponsors: ATK Aerospace Systems, Myriad Genetics, Rocky Mountain Power

Community Sponsors: Brady Foundation, U of U Department of Physics and Astronomy 

Media Partner: KCPW -- All lectures broadcasted live at KCPW 88.3FM

Additional support: The City Library, Liberty Heights Fresh, Pinon Market & Cafe, Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks Fund