Communicating Science

Communicating Science

I’ve been at a scientific meeting recently and (again) was surprised of the disconnect that sometimes occurred between a speaker and the audience. If the listener (me) does not understand a complex subject that is explained, it is not solely on me! Don’t blame me that I could not follow your cluttered slides and your jumbled train of thought! Sure, sometimes I will be uninformed or not smart enough. But sometimes it is on you, dear speaker.

Explaining an easy concept complicatedly is easy. Explaining a complex concept concisely is artistry. And while I’ve set through many talks cluelessly, I admired the few speakers who mastered the art: The ones that make you feel clever just by listening. The ones that explain intricate science so well that you think you designed the experiments yourself. The ones that let you rediscover what they did and make it seem like what they are doing isn’t difficult after all.

Giving a good talk boils down to the same things that are important in photography: The subject needs to be clear. Leading lines are necessary to guide the viewer. Help them navigate the frame. Unimportant stuff is left out (and there is a lot of unimportant stuff). And everything left in has to support the main subject. Tell a story.

The following pictures do not follow these rules at all, but I hope my own talk did at least…

The World’s End

The World’s End

The road's last bend, the world does end
right here. The sphere succumbs,
a lonesome spot remains.

Mountains looming, all consuming
oceans everywhere.
The soul gets lost and tossed around
between the dunes and seagull sounds.

This place will stay when we decay,
mere joy engraved that does transcend
the end of our finite time.

Discrepancies

Discrepancies

As Berlin soils are as dry as never before, the number of applications for private wells is at an ever high.

Part 1.

While hardly anything is more important than clean energy, the compensation for private households for feeding solar electricity back into the grid is at its lowest point in 20 years.

Part 2.

While we have to stop immediately investing into fossil fuel infrastructure to keep climate warming below two degrees, a multitude of countries is opening up new oil and gas drilling sites.

Part 3.

Themes

Themes

A large milestone of my (work) life is due at the end of this year. A distinct goal I am working towards; a goal that shouldn’t be missed. Accordingly, I themed the next months as the ‘Time of Progress’. Every day with progress, no matter how much, is a good day. I also have been using (my own implementation of) the Theme System for my work journal for the past three years; however, rather poorly in the recent months. It is time to properly reinvigorate the daily journaling (and themes) – at least for a while.

More lately, I’ve also come to the conclusion that my photography will benefit from a theme-based approach. While pictures on a single post are mostly from a single day and, thus, already appear to follow a theme, I am looking for something more long-termed and directed. So far, I am going out and capture whatever works with the current conditions in nature. And I will keep doing that. But I am also fond of having an artistic project that spans a longer time frame than a single summer afternoon and that results in a ‘finished’ collection of pictures following a common theme – suggestions welcome.

Untangled

Untangled

The alarm clock goes off at 5 in the morning. Fortunately, in anticipation of my morning mood, past me already crammed everything into the backpack yesterday evening so I can get started right away. Why today? Because the forecast promised heavy fog for the whole morning. So, despite the apparent lack of fog at this early time, I hop onto my bike, and drive off into nature. All trust placed in the forecast. I have visited this wood many times before; last time in late winter when everything looked naked and cold. So how about today? It’s a different world:

The fog appears as the sun rises. First, it lingers on the fields and streets, but then it slowly creeps into the forest. And with every passing minute it becomes more dense as it wraps around the trunks and branches. The greens get so intense it looks like someone slipped on the saturation slider, while old leaves are scattered across the ground. The birds already conclude their morning symphony, everything is calm and peaceful.

I drift around, on paths, off paths, through the scrub, across small glades. And, as everytime, I realize: photographing woodlands is hard. Everything is cluttered, without structure, entangled. But with enough patience even the woodlands become untangled, as does the mind.

Ocean, Swamps, and Freedom

Ocean, Swamps, and Freedom

The land is flat and stretches out,
it seems that here the birches sprout
quite willingly in swamps and marsh,
the light is golden, never harsh.
The birds sing different and fly
towards far places, as the sky
turns orange and leaves us behind,
vanishing traces in the mind,
condensed adventure, precious time,
forgetting it might be a crime.

Limbs

Limbs

Spreading from a common body, reaching out in search of light, intertwined but solitary, a mutual goal but separate journeys. All supporting a common trunk to be alive, to support a life, to stay alive.

Long-term deep emission reductions, including the reduction of emissions to net-zero, is best achieved through institutions and governance that nurture new mitigation policies, while at the same time reconsidering existing policies that support continued emission of GHGs (high confidence).

TS. 6.1 – Technical Summary – WORKING GROUP III CONTRIBUTION TO THE IPCC SIXTH ASSESSMENT REPORT (AR6)

It’s all there. A multitude of pathways to reduce emissions. Many branches, a common goal: Keep the planet habitable. It requires systematic change in all sectors: energy, housing, transport, industry, land use, food production. All of the pathways that limit warming to ‘acceptable’ limits have one thing in common: they require change right now. Or to be more precise – the required change should have begun 2 years ago, or 10 years ago, or 20 years ago. But still, nothing changes. Since this last report has been released, several countries have released their new plans to drill for even more oil and gas. Business as usual; the trees will get chopped down, leaving limbs scattered around the corpses.

The Unexpected

The Unexpected

Necessary variation,
arbitrary contemplation,
forlorn forest, torn apart,
born in freedom, sworn by heart
to live, to give, inform, restart
what's wrong, what's flawed
does fall apart.
Without definite destination,
ahead a dreaded bifurcation:
What's right? What's left?
And what is left to say and write?
The obscure shadows of the night
do greet the swiftly fleeting light.
Blue flowers sprout across the ground
as doubt vanishes all around.

Complex World

Complex World

We see faces where there are none. We see patterns where there is only chaos. When we are tasked to produce a series of random numbers, the result does not pass the simplest quality criteria we would demand from computers. In a complex world, we fall back to things we know, concepts we understand, and patterns we have engrained. But: It is brave to acknowledge ‘I don’t know’ – there is no shame in unintentional unknowingness. There is always time to learn. And it’s courageous to think outside the box and propose the unusual. However, this is not to be confused with refuting the consensus. And it does not equate to ignoring or denying the facts. Unfortunately, a non-negligible proportion of society does not seem to be aware of this difference. Instead of arguing in the realm of reality they spread lies. Instead of acknowledging the unknown they act as the keepers of truth. And surely: the other side does the same, however, with another truth. How can such a split society regenerate and reclaim a common truth?

Collide / Collapse / Collude

Collide / Collapse / Collude

Bright beam of light within the night,
a scenery in black and white.
Dreams are extremes
but, as it seems,
color soaks in and strokes begin
to rise and shine, a hopeful sign.
Deceiving thoughts,
are leaving spots,
and what is left is sparse:
unite and fight for what is right,
do not incite, do bring delight.