Full House for Greene-Alda Lecture

“There’s nothing more exciting than the drama of science,” physicist Brian Greene told an audience of more than 1,000 who gathered to hear him discuss with Alan Alda why communicating science matters.

The lecture, at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center, was one of several events on Sept. 23 that celebrated the official opening of the Center for Communicating Science. The first key to good science communication, Greene said, is to not sacrifice scientific integrity yet still be engaging, which can be a difficult balancing act.

The second key is to talk about science through telling a story. One way to do that, Greene and Alda agreed, is to share with the public the process of science, as well as the results so people see that research is like a mystery story with many blind alleys.

“I’d say 99 percent of what we do in science is wrong” – meaning it doesn’t pan out, Greene said. But he added that “one of the glories of science” is that even the biggest developments don’t erase the importance of what came before.

Greene, the author and host of “The Elegant Universe,” is a string theorist who has been described by the Washington Post as the “single best explainer of abstruse idea in the world today.” His lecture with Alan Alda was co-sponsored by the Center, the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Stony Brook Department of Physics and Astronomy.