Can rock stars help make science cool again?

USA Today reports:

Premiering in December’s GQ magazine, the “2010 Rock Stars of Science” campaign pairs musicians such as Blondie‘s Debbie Harry, Poison’s Bret Michaels and Timbaland, with scientists, including Nobel Prize winners.

Rock stars are household names, but ResearchAmerica! polls suggest half the public can’t name a living scientist. A 2005 National Academies of Science report complained parents aren’t turning their kids on to science anymore.

“I think being a scientist is like being a fighter pilot, it’s just as cool,” says Columbia University professor of surgery Mehmet Oz, best known as the host of the syndicated Dr. Oz Show. Oz appears with Timbaland and astronaut Bernard Harris in the campaign. “The juxtaposition of scientists with rock stars might jolt people a little, and open some minds,” Oz says.

Scientists paired with rock ‘n’ rollers in the ads include Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn of the University of California, San Francisco, and cancer researcher Craig Thompson, chief of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “Scientists are really invisible to people now,” Thompson says. “We actually need to get rid of Marcus Welby and show scientists are real people, and just as much a part of our lives as rock stars.”


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