From Holly: Marc Merlin and I first met when he asked me to do a Skype Book Talk about Blood Work for his fantastic group, the Atlanta Science Tavern. I had a chance to meet so many interesting people, who were all fascinated by the history of science (among other things). We met in real life in September at the Decatur Book Festival, where I gave a talk to a standing-room only crowd (thanks to Marc’s great PR work) and also sat on a panel about social media in science writing. These experiences were so great that I wanted to continue collaborating with the Atlanta Science Tavern–and what better way than to ask Marc to help us feature the great work of its members and its speakers.
A: The Atlanta Science Tavern began as a science pub early in the summer of 2008 in the tradition of the science cafe movement whose goal it is to bring researchers into conversation with the general public in informal settings. Because of the reach of the social networking site Meetup.com the group has grown to include over 1,500 members and has become a significant public science forum in its own right, producing 2 or 3 events of our own each month and partnering with other organizations, such as the Decatur Book Festival and the Atlanta Botanical Garden, to bring educational programs of all stripes to our expanding audience of science enthusiasts.
A: My fascination with science began when I was a child and eventually led me to study physics in college and graduate school with the (unrealized) goal of becoming a researcher myself. Over the years, while pursuing a career as a computer programmer, I became very involved with human rights work and similar progressive causes. Although the Science Tavern was created by my friends Josh Gough and Carol Potter, I joined not long after it started. I took on the role of lead organizer in order to expand the program to meet the growing demand for science-related activities like the ones we offer. I see the Science Tavern as a natural extension of my long-standing commitment both to science and to social activism, and I consider myself now a full-time “science activist”.
Q: What types of posts do you have in store for us?
A: Our posts will draw on the wide variety of topics featured in our Science Tavern program – evolutionary biology, physics, medical science, anthropology, paleontology, and neuroscience, to name a few – and will relate these subjects to historical personalities or periods of general interest.
Q: And the perennial question, if you could go back in the past, where would you go? Who would you meet? And why?
I hope this isn’t considered a dodge, but, given the opportunity, I would travel back in time to Atlanta, Georgia in 1967 to talk with my father. He died the following year when I was only 13, and I never had the opportunity to engage him in a adult conversation of any sort. I imagine that much of my interest in science and curiosity about the natural world originated with him, so it would be a joy for me to bring him up to date about all the amazing discoveries that have been made in the last 45 years.