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Speaking to… Professor Jon Butterworth

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Prof Jon Butterworth

“Discussing my work with others who aren’t so expert reminds me how amazing physics really is. Also I love some of the questions I get, which are occasionally very thought-provoking.”

This is part of a series of interviews with science communicators about science communication. Today we are Speaking to… Prof Jon Butterworth

Name?

Jon Butterworth

Where are you based?

UCL (London)

Who do you work for?

UCL

What type of science communication do you do?

I am primarily a scientist rather than a professional communicator. But, I write for the Guardian and I also give public talks, school talks, and turn up on radio and TV occasionally.

Who is your main audience?

The interested general public.

How did you get into it?

Mainly driven by the public interest in the start up of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which I work on. One of the main stimuli was the “Colliding Particles” films, a project by Mike Paterson funded by STFC.

Why do you do it?

I enjoy it, and I think that the society that funds our science has a right to share in the joy of it.

Why do you think science communication is important?

It seems to me that intellectual understanding and exploration of the universe we live in is an essential component of a healthy and successful society. Also, see previous answer.

What do you love about science communication?

It’s easy for any job to become routine. Discussing my work with others who aren’t so expert reminds me how amazing physics really is. Also I love some of the questions I get, which are occasionally very thought-provoking.

What has been your favourite project?

Definitely my blog – I’m really grateful to the Guardian for the audience and freedom they provide. Also, Robin Ince’s End of the World Show was a high point.

Do you have any new science communication projects coming up?

Yes. I’m supposed to be writing a book, amongst other things.

Any tips for those wanting to get into science communication?

Be honest with yourself about why you are doing it. Know who you are talking to, and listen as well as talk. Just like any kind of communication really, I suppose.

You can follow Jon on Twitter at @jonmbutterworth