OK, it’s not quite on the scale of the famous Billy Graham crusades in Melbourne in the 50s, which packed out the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but An Evening With Brian Cox in Melbourne sold 1800 tickets in one evening yesterday.
The fact that women tend to think he’s dreamy (pic at the link above) and he used to play keyboards in a band probably doesn’t hurt, but the fact that he’s talking about the universe and is a very good science communicator is the interesting bit.
Neil Degrasse Tyson is perhaps a bit less dreamy, but I’m sure would get a similar or greater reaction. There seems to be a real hunger for science – perhaps particularly astronomy, but other sciences too – in society. Which gives me hope, in a world that sometimes feels as though it’s being relentlessly dumbed down.
There’s a slightly different focus, but the big atheist conferences also tend to feature, as well as anti religious jeremiads, celebrations of science, and the audiences for those are growing year on year too.
Teachers who can find ways to ignite, rather than extinguish, that drive in their students are likely to be popular and influential too – even if they were never in a band.