Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Image of Space

I'm not talking about gorgeous planets and their glorious ballet among the stars, or amazing nebula gas clouds that echo the rainbow of colors, but the image of how space is presented to the public. Recently I read an article about a high school kid that managed to make a very interesting and rare discovery. The article is here...

I always promote the articles I read. :) This is a nice story, but something hit me, and it was this: "I was home on a weekend and had nothing to do, so I decided to look at some more plots from the GBT," he said.

Although I applaud the discovery, this kid needs to get out on the weekend. Somehow, I'm thinking he's a stereotypical nerd kid and this makes me sad, because far too many people think all space nuts are this way, so the field overall experiences a negative social aspect, which is totally bogus.

I'm a socialite that parties like a rock star on the weekends when the bills don't drain the paycheck too am still a Grade-A certified space geek. Plus I'm a fitness junkie @ 5'9", 190 and hit the gym 5 days a week. I also know some seriously hot girls who are into space/science/tech. The stereotype drives me nuts.

There needs to be a science geek calendar. :)

Don't get me wrong, I totally agree that what this kid did was amazing and great, but I also think the space, science and technology sectors need a face lift. We have far too many old farts, or "Lewis Skolnick's", in front of the cameras talking all things space/science/tech to the public. Face it, image matters in today's world, and this attachment to brains over appearance is a detriment to the cause. Yeah, we're smart, but that doesn't translate to the general public.

I guarantee you this, if you make a 5 minute Youtube video of 3 extremely hot women in bikinis (or hunky guys in swim trunks) talking about Moon water, spacecraft, CERN, or whatever else scientific and it will get a LOT of hits. Yes, some people will just drool over the sexiness, but if you increase the percentage of eyes watching the material, you also increase the percentage of people who might actually gleam some knowledge from the topic, or gain some interest in the subject. The eye candy brings them in, the subject matter astounds them.

We wonder why space budgets have fallen, but fail to recognize the obvious. It's the exposure that matters, and we need to learn how to market space to people who would not otherwise give it a second glance.


Norman Copeland said...


Douglas, I think you should start pyramid salesman schemes for building and having timeshare holiday experiences outerspace for the public...


You crank.

Douglas Mallette said...

I should! But I only want to use hotties for the promo commercials. :)

Anonymous said...

An interesting post on which I have mixed opinions. Space needs an image makeover - no arguments there. Baywatch babes talk space science - ummm not so much. To me this just sounds too much like elderly (non US) politicians appearing on camera in baseball caps to prove how they're down with the kids really - it wouldn't ring true.

Without wishing to kiss ass, I'd suggest that your description of yourself would work better as an image :)

My suspicion is that private space travel will provide the needed image uplift. Space travel already has the right ingredients to be fantastically glamorous - folks flying incredible machines at terrifying speeds to do tough work in an extreme environment. At the moment though it's only for the elite, its run by agencies with an (understandable) need to over-emphasise its safe and routine nature and it has the serious drawback of being widely regarded as just an expensive boondoggle.

Make it more widely available, socially acceptable (i.e not a way to spend large amounts of your tax dollars) and I reckon that image will change. Not to mention the fact that private companies will most likely have better marketing departments than the public sector :)

- Rich.

Douglas Mallette said...

Rich - Maybe so, but we all know that beer won't give us extremely gorgeous babes at our sides, but that advertising has worked for years. Similarly with any ads really. It's marketing, and space is poorly marketed.

Ideally, and I know they exist, would be to get attractive people who ARE space geek Engineers and Scientists to push the "products", hence why I mentioned a Space Geek Calendar.

The glamor of space to a space lover doesn't always seamlessly transfer to non-space lovers. Sometimes, you have to appeal to the inner "sellout". lol.

Norman Copeland said...


After careful consideration I have have decided to respond to your converse.

I can grasp your constructive analysis of existing opinions of how infrastructure can be developed, particularly how previous history shows it's tendancy to be based on other peoples opinions.

Sometimes mixed opinion can be 'cloudy' and something I beleive is that your opinion is not clouded, so, I have questions for 'you'.

Your intellect is telling you that an image could be developed or nurtured for the next era introduction to space exploration. I agree, but, wasn't clear at what it was that you was suggesting {it's something I deal with often when helping people clarifying what it is they really want to say}...


What image in your opinion would be proficient?


I have seen the Roman's build europe, and the vikings build europe, both from different vantage's.

Perhaps you could enlighten me with further analysis.


I agree, I beleive that the money is now more widely available.

Richard said...

Hey guys.

@Douglas. Yes the calender sounds better. Folks that do space stuff and just happen to be attractive too would seem a lot less phony than attractive people given an 'I'm a space geek' really script. But you're probably right about appealing to the inner sellout :)

@ Norman. My thinking was that space travel already has a positive image but the problem is is that the positive image is overshadowed by its negative image. The main negative image being of an expensive elitist government program that consumes taxes and doesnt really have much to show for the expense.

Privately funded spaceflight should get rid of most of that negative image, therefore allowing the positive image to appear without very much marketing at all. Hope that made more sense than it did in my first post!

Just my thoughts though, and sadly Douglas was probably more realistic with his notion that the glamour of space flight doesn't transfer very well to non space lovers.

- Rich

Norman Copeland said...

Hello Richard,
I'm really glad you considered the converation further...

My opinion...

As someone who has been involved with multi billion pound business since my twenties I think it would be a good thing if I gave my experience to this conversation {particularly as a supporter of SME's [small/medium enterprizes].

I believe that most business is instigated from studying demographic trends and that considers the utility of listening to what you have said to be 'phoney' people and opinions...

You talk about positive and negative as literal senses, but, I believe that perhaps you could consider that listening to negative people can be an inspiration for positivity.

Personally, for communities that have little economic support or strength, I would like to envisage an avenue for their development potential, as I have noted, these people are morally, virtually and intrinsically members of our race that contribute to it's total developement, and that is why I personally don't use word's like phoney, because I choose to extract the potential from these situations.

I'm not the preacher type, but, I beleive we all have something to offer life and it's what we make of it.

I'm really happy with NASA and the potential of our scientists, I don't beleive we're lacking in anything and that tell's me we're doing well.

Perhaps my opinion of NASA seem's strange because of how much we have accomplished since John F Kennedy has been giving the order's/at the helm. Well, the momemtum seem's strnge, but, I beleive that caution is a good approach to this science which is, oh so very serious.

Perhaps thats just my opinion because I'm more educated than most about space science and belive that the science that NASA has put on the table is certainly absorbing for me.

If the public needs green aliens to look at before it has any initerest in space exploration that's the justification for our conversations pathing the way for other's who have very neive concepts regarding space.

Saying that, I think you'll agree with me that any response to this isn't 'phoney'.

That's what Douglas is saying {Lol...}

We're right and want to be.

The truth is the truth, but, it's who's mouth it's coming from.

Anonymous said...

I like the "Come for the boobs, stay for the brains" approach! I think it's the hidden agenda behind CBS's "The Big Bang Theory" (I don't know about any other girls out there, but Johnny Galecki is hot). If you don't mind, I'm going to start obsessively reading your blog (at least until I pass my astronomy course this semester).

Norman Copeland said...

[Now, now gentleman, we all know where the boobs belong].

Of course, it will be neccessary for you to fashion the proper attire.

And it would be exceptionally interesting if you could tell us what stars you've been studying...

Some of us have ambitions of navigating with star alignment...

I personally would really appreciate some input.

Have a beautiful day.


Anonymous said...

Hey Douglas,

Just want to say I agree that many in the Astronomy-based sciences have a nerdy, almost stale image that can really turn people off. I am a huge space science enthusiast, but do not work in the field. In fact I am about as removed from it as you can get - I am a motorcycle racer (road race) and work a day job in sales, yet perhaps because of this, a lot of people actually listen when I talk about space and science.

I think it is mainly because I don't have the 'uncool' image the people they usually see talking about space do.

One way to help change the image of space science might be to 'out' the popular , socially accepted and desired people who are into space, and get them talking about it publicly (you tube etc.)

But go with the hot chicks too, because like it or not, they work!



Douglas Mallette said...

Anon - I love the Big Bang Theory, for the humorous intellect and the girl. lol. Mind if you obsess over my blog...not at all. And tell you're friends. :)

-- Too many damn Anons. MAKE UP NAMES! lol.

Anon (Biker) - Exactly. As much as scientists and engineers love their brains, image matters...hence the name of the article. lol. I agree, now to just find some way to lure out the hottie geeks and get them speaking!