Armed and Scientific
By Dan Frankel
Published Oct 1, 2009 8:00 AM
Did you know the Navy is going green? That the Army is working with industry and academia on an advanced battery that will power, among other things, tanks? Or how atomic timekeeping works? You would if you listened to "Armed With Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military," a weekly audio webcast that the U.S. Department of Defense launched in January at www.blogtalkradio.com/ArmedwithScience.
Hosted by neuroscientist Dr. John Ohab Ph.D. '07, the show features one-on-one interviews with scientists from a wide variety of government agencies discussing everything from electronic warfare to drug abuse in the military. A new media guru with his own weekly podcast, and nearly 2,400 followers on Twitter, Ohab's mission is to make the broad topic of science accessible to the broader population.
"We're primarily going after the non-science audience, people who have an interest in science but no science training," he explains. "What it all goes back to is communication and information sharing. People say scientists can't communicate. People say government can't communicate. By and large that's not true; we just speak different languages."
Meanwhile, the program also serves the mandate of making the Pentagon more open and accessible to the tax-paying public. "People think of the Department of Defense as guns and missiles and tanks, and to some extent that's true, but this is a great opportunity to understand the breadth of science operating within the federal government and to understand how it impacts society," says Ohab.
Meanwhile, the peripatetic scientist/podcast personality is also fascinated by the ongoing media revolution, using just about every social networking tool he can find to expand his show's audience. Besides his social network activity, Ohab seeks to expand on the "Armed With Science" dialog through his personal blog, and a key voice for the Science Cheerleader, a web-based media platform that, like Ohab's podcasts, aims to make science more fun and understandable to wider audience. In fact, some of the questions Ohab asks his scientist guests originate among his Twitter followers.
"We're sort of on the forefront," he concludes. "To do something that no one else in the government is doing, that is to host a radio program that discusses controversial topics that have implications for our national security, is pretty neat."