Wired Science on PBS


AC Gilbert chemistry set, 1922
From Wired Science on PBS

Tonight is the premiere of a new PBS science series, Wired Science. My fear is that, as with so many other science programs, it will be the kind of staccato, jumpy show that skips right over real science in favor of juicy but inaccurate soundbytes. (I have to confess Wired sometimes gives me a technicolor headache).

On the other hand, the first episode, Dangerous Science, sounds so promising:

In Search of an Old-Fashioned Chemistry Experience

Fifty years ago, you’d be hard-pressed to find an American family without a chemistry set lurking somewhere in the house. It was one of those rare toys that was both fun and educational, helping kids equate science with excitement—after all, building an exploding volcano in the living room never gets old.

But say “chemistry set” to a kid today and you’re likely to get a blank stare or a snicker in response. While the sets still technically exist, they rarely contain any real “chemicals,” thanks to safety and liability fears; they also characterize scientists as crazy and eccentric rather than respectable and intelligent. This may be fueling kids’ declining interest in science, as evidenced by the fact that a third as many students are pursuing college chemistry degrees today as they did back then. Could the disappearance of the old chemistry sets be somewhat to blame? A lot of scientists say yes.

They also promise to reveal what’s in Cool Whip. It’s like the science of Americana! This could be good. . .

Airs Wednesdays at 8pm (most markets – better check your local public TV listings).

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