A passion for the art…of science

“You have to be passionate about what you do. If you like what you do — spreading scientific knowledge, in this case — then you’ll do it well.” This is the advice writer, journalist, and science reporter Antonio Martínez Ron has for the young. A five-minute conversation with him suffices to see that, when it comes to science, he is driven by pure passion. On March 2014, the first episode of Catástrofe UltraVioleta saw the light of day. Sharing stories from the world of science, this podcast has since received the most important Spanish radio award: the 2017 Premio Ondas to the best digital program. For Antonio, this has been cause “for immense joy, as the radio is where I started.”  Martínez Ron acknowledges that, although humor helps convey scientific topics to all audiences, the key is to be close to the listener, use the right metaphors, and be rigorous. In this connection, he offers us a revealing clue: “you don’t need to make anything up, exaggerate, or go into strange territory.”

How does a political columnist become one of Spain’s most renowned science reporters? Thanks to a science blog and tons of passion, shortly after the radio station where he worked was shut down, Martínez Ron launched a blog called Fogonazos. This personal project was the beginning of a movement that, today, is followed by thousands of people: “At first, I had 100 readers, then 300. This finally led us to where we are now, filling up auditoriums of up to 1,000 people with science events such as Naukas, something that would have been unthinkable 8 years ago.” Antonio’s aim is to spread the scientific culture in order to change society: “A country doesn’t invest in research because it is wealthy, a country is wealthy because it invests in research, and, to do this, a scientific culture is essential.” For Martínez Ron, the key to strengthening the scientific culture is to encourage curiosity. What do curious people do? They ask questions. Lots of questions. And children are the experts at this. That is why Martínez Ron plans on publishing a book along with his 10-year-old daughter that aims to develop children’s ability to ask questions: “If children are trained in the art of asking questions and keep their curiosity alive till the time they become adults, then we will strengthen the scientific culture.”

As part of his passionate efforts to instill the scientific culture in children, Martínez Ron leads workshops, such as the one held at Repsol’s Industrial Facility in Puertollano this year. It is a spectacular visual workshop entitled “Let There Be Light,” which teaches participants “how light refraction works and how its effects trick the brain, as well as how light travels through our atmosphere. Kids learn why some people are short-sighted, why no two people see the same rainbow, and how sunglasses work. We do small experiments which are very impressive, very visual and eye-catching,” Martínez Ron explains. He adds that “participating in these activities is great. Being in contact with kids and rethinking the material helps you get a better understanding of what you’re explaining.”

Creativity and imagination are essential to science: “scientists have to find new ways of doing things, and must do so very humbly. A career in science is a constantly humbling experience. One need only think of how everything has changed since the time we thought the Earth was the center of the universe.”

Proud to continue learning, Martínez Ron is now looking for the answers to new questions and studying meteorology and atmospheric phenomena. He insists one must continue to study and learn, as he does, following in the footsteps of 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics laureate Richard Feynman, whom he considers an “absolute genius beyond measure.” He would love to be able to publish an article announcing that a cure for cancer has been discovered or any information that could improve people’s quality of life, as “science is developed by human beings, for human beings — it is designed to improve our lives.”

Week of Science and Energy of Puertollano summary

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