Scientists in the Popular Imagination

Many people, including perhaps some Two-Penny readers, know very little about what scientists do. Frankly, I’m not sure I can claim to know, and I used to be one. (Well, I was a science student and lab assistant. That counts, right?) Well, now there’s a website called that helps illuminate the mysterious lives of scientists. In addition to essays by and profiles of numerous working scientists, they also highlight realistic portrayals of scientists in the arts (novels, film, etc.).

I haven’t had a chance to explore much of this site yet, but I’ve liked what bits I’ve read so far. I’d particularly like to point out this profile/interview of a mathematician who offered some advice to the creators of Numb3rs, which is currently my favorite show on television. (I wish I’d watched the first half of the season, but I’m sure I can find a way to remedy that.)

I suspect, and this interview seems to confirm, that the math on Numb3rs is real math. It certainly helps that I’ve heard of at least a few of the types of analyses they talk about. Now if only I could figure out what they mean. The show definitely makes me wish I’d done more math (although perhaps at a slower pace than my college math classes).

Numb3rs airs Fridays at 10 pm Eastern on CBS. I encountered via Science Magazine‘s NetWatch.

4 thoughts on “Scientists in the Popular Imagination

  1. That’s pretty cool! Thanks for posting it. (Also, despite my familiarity with how biology works, I don’t really have a sense of what mathematicians, for example, do on a day-to-day basis.)


  2. Seems more accurate to say that Numb3rs plots (and I also enjoy the show when I see it) are *based on* real math concepts while rarely involving any actual, real math. As it should be, otherwise the good guys would win a lot less frequently and lot less quickly 🙂


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