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David Farrant

It Came From Moore’s – Guest Blog by Gareth J. Medway

James Burke, Cliff Michelmore and Patrick Moore (c) BBC Television

Just a quick word everyone (from me at least). Sorry to have been late again as usual but a LOT has really been happening. Anyway here is a guest blog entry from Gareth J. Medway – hope you all enjoy! (Well I liked it anyway! – David)

The late John Keel observed that scientists fall into two categories: he termed them Type A, who usually work for a government agency or a large corporation, and who are great inventors, and Type B, who tend to be employed by a college, and write ‘scientific rubbish’, which gets widely printed.  He might have added Type C, that is, professional journalists who have no scientific qualifications, but are very well known to the public through presenting television and radio programmes about science, and who are usually assumed by viewers to be leading scientists.  Though it is nearly forty years ago, I recall a James Burke episode of The Burke Special, in which he explained the theory of relativity, and basically made it clear that he did not understand it himself.

Last December came the news of the death of Sir Patrick Moore, who, as he himself stated, was an amateur rather than a professional astronomer, but unlike most Type C scientists really did know the subject well.  The BBC did an obituary programme in which many people praised him, including Brian May, best known as the guitarist with the rock band Queen, but who is also an astrophysicist with a doctorate on zodiacal light.  What was not mentioned was that Moore was a practical joker responsible for some spoof stories about flying saucers, so that for anyone interested I have written a short piece about this.

Gareth J. Medway

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