Record-Breaking Science Communication: Physics, Live on the Radio

Christian Schneider, Project Leader for School Programs and Science Communication at JGU’s Cluster of Excellence PRISMA, discussed the Guinness World Record and how much he enjoys talking about physics with schoolchildren

“Somehow public attention is still on the Guinness World Record even after half a year,” Christian Schneider says, clearly pleased by the fact. It’s no wonder, since communicating about science is exactly what makes this doctor of physics happy. That’s why he is still busying himself with press releases, Facebook posts, and interviews months after JGU was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest magnetic ball accelerator. On December 13th he was interviewed on the SWR 2 radio program “Tandem Rakete” for over half an hour, beginning at 7:05 pm.

These kinds of solo acts are uncharacteristic of physicists, Schneider tells the moderator Patrick Batarilo during the interview. Physics is a team sport, and the exchange of ideas is the bread and butter of research in the natural sciences, he says. As he sits with big headphones in the SWR studio a few minutes from the JGU campus, Batarilo asks him questions from another studio in Baden-Baden. Some of the questions are quite interesting. How is it for women in physics these days? What kinds of career paths are open to young researchers? And what do physicists do in their free time? “There were a few questions I had to stop and think about,” Schneider says later, “but it was a lot of fun to be able to take my time talking about the Guinness event and the projects we do with schoolchildren.”

Listening to the full interview with Tandem Rakete is a lot of fun as well, and it illuminates the breadth of science communication. Physics on Saturdays, experiments for children, presentations for teachers—Schneider furthers all of these projects and more when he mounts tracks for a ball accelerator on the Mainz streetcar platforms in the burning summer heat. “I think science communication is an incredibly important topic, because you can teach science in so many different ways,” Schneider says. His professional composure might be just as record-breaking as his projects, as he pulls his listeners into the world of physics this evening. He had the choice of a taped interview, but he chose to do it live. Considering his successful world record attempt and his weakness for experiments, he will surely choose “live” the next time too.