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But Seriously...

But Seriously...

Conversations with a science comedian.

Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself

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Hello! Come in! Have a seat by the fire. Ooh, not so close! That's better.

Let me tell you a bit about myself...Brian Malow in the Daily Planet

Unlike many of the bloggers here, I am not a doctor. I sometimes say I play one in the broken dreams of my parents. And people laugh, although it isn't a joke.

Or maybe it is a joke but it's also the truth.

...which makes me think of wave-particle duality. Perhaps someday I'll develop my own quantum theory of humor, describing how sentences may exhibit properties of both jokes and truth.

But not today. Today is for telling you about this blog.

If the Earth lost its gravity

and you went to school

the school would not be there.

And on the way home

You would not be there.

       - Brian Malow, 2nd grade

It seems I've been pondering the deep philosophical questions all my life.

I really should've become a scientist but, instead, I became a comedian. Perhaps the two aren't so different.

Isaac Asimov once said, "The most exciting phrase to hear in science - the one that heralds new discoveries - is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny.'"

This is true for comedians as well. In fact, I can assure you, very few comedians have cried out, "Eureka!" for any reason at all in the past 2000 years.

See? We've already learned something. That's the kind of comedian I am. We laugh and learn. In theory, anyway.

But seriously… this blog will not just showcase the inane ramblings of a carbon-based comedian. Oh, I'm sure there will be plenty of that. But it won't be merely monologue. Often it will be dialogue, a term which also traces back to ancient Greece.

Brian Malow and physicist Dean Lee

Interviewing physicist Dean Lee about the Higgs Boson

I love conversation. And I have a bias toward scientists and writers, artists and thinkers. I'm insatiably curious and I love to ask questions. I like to learn and I like to share what I learn. I like to turn people on to ideas and the people who have them.

So you can expect to see a lot of interviews here, fun and informative, serious and light-hearted - in video, audio, and old-fashioned text. If you can think of another format or medium, I'll try that, too.

I like all the branches of science but you may catch me gravitating toward astronomy and physics. It's probably genetic.

If you're curious how I became a science comedian, here's how I explained it to Symmetry Magazine a few years ago.

I think I've had the most unusual career of any comedian I know. While my peers are hoping for shows on NBC, ABC, and CBS, I'm scoring deals with NSF, AAAS, JPL and NIST. They're being interviewed by pop culture magazines; I'm being interviewed by particle physics magazines.

I love it! I've performed for math teachers in Ft. Worth and for science teachers in Rochester. For Cassini scientists at JPL.

Brian and EO Wilson

With Lord of the Ants, E.O. Wilson

I've entertained a uranium symposium in Colorado. Plant pathologists at NCSU. The American Chemical Society. The National Research Council of Canada. Superfund researchers.

By request, I delivered an infectious-disease-themed comedy show at an outlet of the National Academies.

I've produced science videos for Time Magazine. I've been to SpaceX and the Googleplex. I've interviewed Vatican astronomers and famous science fiction writers, discoverers of exoplanets and Kuiper Belt objects, insects and salamanders.

Brian Malow with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Really, what is there to say?

I've talked about ants with E.O. Wilson and neutron stars with Neil deGrasse Tyson. I've told my joke about Hawking Radiation to Stephen Hawking!

Brian Malow and Stephen Hawking

"What did the naked singularity say to the micro-black hole?"

And now I've got a full-time job in science communications at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. What a long, strange trip it's been.

 
I hope we'll have a chance to get to know each other over time, and I'll tell you these stories and more. I look forward to introducing you to some amazing people as, together, we expand our universes.



 



 



Photos by Russ Creech, Karen Swain, Erika Vick

 

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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