Science for the General Public

in Science for All

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780226068633
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226068664 | DOI:
Science for the General Public

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Self-education literature was produced on the assumption that there were readers interested in finding out about science, but most ordinary people had no such interest and would only come across science intermittently in the course of their everyday reading. What was available to inform the public about science and its implications? How much space was devoted to science in popular magazines and newspapers, and who produced the copy (and for what purpose)? The short answer to the first question is: surprisingly little. Most people read for entertainment, and they did not find the prospect of learning about science very alluring. Some excitement was generated by the latest developments in technology, especially anything that moved very fast such as an airplane or racing car. The radio offered a new medium of communication that did not rely on the written word—at least in theory. The British Broadcasting Corporation presented science (and other serious topics) in a didactic manner, closely paralleling the self-education literature of the period.

Keywords: self-education literature; science; public; magazines; newspapers; radio; British Broadcasting Corporation

Chapter.  14608 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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