July 13, 2006

Enough with the lights

Writing about web page http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2006/07/07/memo_to_the_public_relations_department.php

A very nice call to PR departments from Derek Lowe at Corante to stop photographing science subjects with eerie lights:

This is addressed to all professional photographers: please, no more colored spotlights. I know that you see this as a deficiency, but scientists do not work with purple radiance coming from the walls behind them. Not if we can help it, we don't, and if we notice that sort of thing going on, we head for the exits. In the same manner, our instruments do not, regrettably, emit orange glows that light our faces up from beneath, not for the most part, and if they start doing that we generally don't bend closer so as to emphasize the thoughtful contours of our faces. When we hold up Erlenmeyer flasks to eye level to see the future of research in them, which we try not to do too often because we usually don't want to know, rarely is this accompanied by an eerie red light coming from the general direction of our pockets. It's a bad sign when that happens, actually.

I guess the problem is that I bet more school kids would get into science if labs were filled with spooky purple lights, smoking test tubes and weird bangs. Don't we need labs that resemble Kenneth Williams' lair in Carry On Screaming – smoke, lights, a foxy assistant and a monster to do your bidding. Now that's scientastic!

- 3 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Steven Carpenter

    :–) When I started as departmental photographer for the Physics department we always used an external professional photographer in for the media work – this was clearly because he had more purple spotlights than us. I have a great picture somewhere of a vacuum cleaner that got stuck to the side of a big electromagnet in NMR after a cleaner missed the big 'Magnet on' sign – wish I'd used an eerie orange spotlight for that one.

    13 Jul 2006, 08:47

  2. You must upload that picture – we have talked about that incident as an Urban Myth for soooooo long now – it would be brilliant to have photographic evidence.

    13 Jul 2006, 09:43

  3. Steven Carpenter

    As I recall one of the research fellows had to perform a calculation on the level of field drop that would be required to let it drop off, without fully shutting the magnet down (large magnets like this have to be ramped down slowly). I'll see if I can dig out the pic for you.

    13 Jul 2006, 17:19

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