In the past I have often said to friends that I believed in the presence of God far more easily that the existence of electricity! I knew it worked – how could I work a computer or switch on a light if it didn’t? However, like ‘a peace that passeth all understanding’, it was a mystery beyond me…..until yesterday morning!
Many of you may remark on the frequency of my reference to BBC Radio 4. We are blessed in the UK in enjoying intelligent and stimulating broadcasting that sets out to inform, entertain and challenge. Every Thursday morning “In Our Time” invites a group of academics to reveal and illuminate diverse subjects that range from Agincourt to Zoroastrianism. In fact one can download a podcast of all the broadcasts from 1998!
Yesterday morning, the programme was about Conductors and Semi-Conductors – essential in the evolution of electricity. There were some arresting and glorious moments such as when the academics fell about laughing.
Melvyn Bragg, the host asked Prof Lesley Cohen to talk of Super Conductors. She told us that Super Conductors are metals “which when cooled, basically enter into an entirely new state of matter…. (this new state of matter) only exists at low temperatures.” Melvyn innocently asked, “What do you mean by low temperatures?” All three gave a hearty and joyful laugh. These Super Conductors only exist at about 4 Kelvin or -269 degrees Celsius! Super Conductors are special since they are super efficient and offer no resistance in allowing electricity to flow through the metal.
What I loved about this broadcast was the engaging and collaborative way Lesley Cohen, Jenny Nelson and Frank Close supported each other in striving to make the topic simple, clear and straightforward to uncertain layman/woman. What was inspiring was that I grasped most of it – the first time I had ‘got’ anything to do with Physics. I really understood how passionately exciting it could be.
What these 3 scientists demonstrated was how the Super Conductors worked. What I grasped was the way they conveyed their information. There was no resistance between the words coming from their mouths and the thought in my head. Their communication flowed in a super efficient way that made it come alive within me.
It made me ask, “Do you strive to make the words from your mouth simple and clear so they flow without resistance into other people’s minds? So that what you say gets ‘got’ and remembered? So others grasp your intention and respond to you? So you are influential and well known for being expert in your field?”