Acasă » Features » Mad about science. Interview with Elise Andrew, creator of I Fucking Love Science
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Un articol de: Alex Stoianovici | 25 Ian 2013, 12:10

Mad about science. Interview with Elise Andrew, creator of I Fucking Love Science

Whoever says that smart things don't sell and don't catch the public's eye, ignores a major "elephant" in the online room: I Fucking Love Science, the most popular science page on Facebook.

Founded in March 2012, IFLS counts today over 2.8 million fans - a huge audience which offers its young creator, Elise Andrew, a voice with an astonishing power. Not only that she can pass her messages on to a huge number of web surfers, but also through the simple funny images or interesting scientific information she educates and fuels the curiosity not only of the young, but also of the adults.

As she told us in the interview below, such cases are quite often and they offer her a true sense of satisfaction in exchange of the effort she puts into managing the page and, maybe in the future, of a IFLS website. Her page is very popular in Romania too, so we had to try to discuss to our "brother in arms", because here also, at BBC Science World Romania, we try to entertain and to educate. We believe that it was a truly smart move, because we discovered in Elise Andrew a young, clever, nice person with a big enthusiasm towards science.

We hope you will enjoy her answers as we have. Enjoy!



"I fucking love science”
counts 2.3 mil likes today. A huge number, taking into account that the page was founded in March. What’s the secret?


2.4, as of a few days ago! (editor's note: now, there are over 2.8 million) If I'm honest, I have no idea. I just keep sharing things I think are amazing, and people keep agreeing with me. I certainly think our name contributes (you certainly can't scroll past it without at least looking) and I know many people enjoy the irreverent, humorous take on science. It's easy to relate to, it's easy to enjoy. It doesn't feel like a lecture or a lesson.

Do you still manage the page by yourself or do you plan to gather a team of other science lovers?

It's still just me on the page and it probably always will be. It's hard to find people who are as obsessed as I am, but still happy to do things my way. I've had people assist me in the past for short times (when I went on vacation in July for example) but I drove them crazy by checking in every half hour and making them run every post by me first!

As your audience will get even larger, could we see maybe a website for “I fucking love science”?

It's something I'm thinking about right now. I'd love to have somewhere I could write longer articles and blog posts – Facebook isn't really the best format for that. It would also be great to have an independent platform where I wouldn't have to worry about Facebook reports. The page will always be around and stay as it is, but it would be great to have a website add something extra.

Among other great combinations, you mix science with humor. Could this be a solution for schools, to get the youngsters’ attention towards the subjects that some of them would consider “boring”?

YES! Completely! Add as much emphasis to that yes as possible. So many people (not just children) see science as so dull and boring. In reality, it's the complete opposite. We get messages from teachers and parents every single day telling us how they're integrating our images and jokes into teaching and how well it works.

We’re convinced that you made a real impact on people, through your page, especially kids and adolescents, and surely have drawn some of them towards science. You may even already started a few careers in science. Was this your objective when you started or maybe afterwards and how proud (in the most positive meaning of the word) are you of this accomplishment?

If I'm honest, I had very little in terms of an objective when this began. It never occurred to me the page would grow so large, I had no idea what I was starting. I created the page in a fit of boredom one day while still at university - 10 months and 2.4 million people later, I'm still reeling. We get messages from people every single day telling us how we've reignited their interest in science, how we've convinced them to study harder, to take a few science electives at college or to go back to school. It's an absolutely amazing feeling, I can't describe it. To know that I'm impacting so many people, and to know that I'm spreading my own passion for the subject and convincing others of it - it's more than I ever dreamed of. I feel so unbelievably lucky.

I think my favourite to date was about six months ago. I received a very irate message from a woman telling me that her 15 year old son was constantly sharing my images, and that she was very offended by the name. About two months later I got another message from the same woman apologizing. She said her son had begun by sharing our quotes and images, and then asked for Carl Sagan's Cosmos series on DVD for his birthday. He then started downloading textbooks and locking himself away to read them. A few months ago she had to drag him to school every morning, now he was talking about studying astrophysics at college!

What science books from 2012 do you recommend as must-reads?

How long have you got?! For younger people and those just beginning their foray into the world of science, I thoroughly recommend Ben Millers "It's not rocket science" and Richard Dawkins "The magic of reality". They're both incredible books. For me personally, Mark Henderson's "The Geek Manifesto: Why Science Matters" was probably my favourite this year. He discusses rationalism and the need for government policies to be based on scientific evidence - something I feel incredibly strongly about. Sean Carrolls "The Particle at the End of the Universe" was another brilliant book, and "Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients" by Ben Goldacre was absolutely fantastic.



On the same note, who’s your favourite scientist or author?

I have to pick? My favourite scientist and personal heroine is Rita Levi-Montalcini, an Italian neuroscientist who passed away a few weeks ago. My favourite author would be a toss up between Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson. They both have such incredibly different styles, and both arouse such passion in people.

You often popularize famous quotes. Which of them really stuck with you or changed something in the way you think and live?

There are two, and both were Carl Sagan's.

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”

“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."

My passion has always been for biology. It's what I studies, it's what I was interested in. These two quotes just seemed to open my mind up to the rest of science - without the interest in physics ignited by hearing these words, I doubt IFLS would be as successful as it is.

What’s the invention or scientific breakthrough that you most wish? And what do you think will be the most important scientific breakthrough of the near future?

Hoverboards! No, just kidding. In a dream world, faster than light travel. It seems like a pipe dream, but there's some amazing work being done on the possibility of warp drives. For me personally, the most important scientific breakthrough wouldn't be a new discovery or technology. It would be the average person waking up to how incredible our universe is - realizing what's out there and working towards their own education. A scientifically literate society.

We, here in the offices of our magazine and in all the presentations we make in schools, often say that we live in the best time in our history and still the best is to come in the following decades. What’s your view on this idea?

I certainly hope you're right. Part of the problem with operating on such an incredibly open platform is that i get to see the absolute best and worst of people. You wouldn't believe some of the messages I get! In terms of technology, the next fifty years are going to be extraordinary. But if we can't sort our scientific education and literacy I truly fear for the human race.



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