Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Changing Faces

Marcus du Sautoy is about to take over from Richard Dawkins as Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science. The New Scientist has an interview with him, that includes some questions about his predecessor:

Will you be as confrontational as [Richard Dawkins] is?

I certainly intend to defend science but I see this position as more about helping to create connections with society and scientists, to help encourage dialogue, to involve people in doing science and to get people so excited that they want to become scientists. I see it more as an ambassadorial role rather than creating controversy for controversy's sake.

Like Dawkins, you're an atheist. Will you be launching your own assault on religion?

Absolutely not. I think it's important for me to go in a new direction. Also, the joy of being Simonyi professor is that you can choose what you want to put your energy into. For me there are so many things to talk about in science: why it's exciting, entertaining and how it impacts on society. We have to make decisions about important scientific issues, and unless members of society are informed about them they'll be unable to get involved in that debate.

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Maybe this changing of the guard will be good for both of them, as they each will be able to pursue their interests with greater freedom.
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