What stories are contained in the adventures of science?
Since time immemorial people have liked stories. I'm sure a hundred thousand years ago or so there was a group of hunter-gatherers hanging around the fire, trading and swapping stories to entertain, to amuse, and to educate. Stories are a fundamental fabric of human culture. Without stories where would we be? For ages stories have been our primary mode of communicating what we know about the world and about ourselves. And even today in our fact-soaked world, stories are absolutely critical.
Stories allow us to go on journeys that we wouldn't be able to go on by ourselves. They allow us to absorb information that we would normally be resistant to. Stories allow us to understand and build context for the things we see and experience in the world.
Science communication (or at least, good science communication) is about telling stories. Science communicators are in essence storytellers. But what makes a good science story?
There are so many options it's almost impossible to list them all. Science is full of stories from the small to the big from the almost inconsequential to the Earth moving. From the microscopic to the cosmic.
Science itself is all about stories. We just use mathematics as our language to tell those stories. But when we ask a question like how does a giant star blow up, the answer comes out in the form of a story. Yes the story is backed up by evidence, which is what makes science science, but it's still a story. We tell a tale from beginning to middle to end (with a very exciting climax) of how a star can go supernova. And when you hear the story it's very satisfying and entertaining. It does its job as a story. It communicates some essential facts and knowledge of the world in a way that many people can appreciate and enjoy.
And then there's the process of science itself, which is done by human beings. And if you've ever met a human being, you know that they have a lot of interesting things going on in their lives, including many passions and hobbies. People are very interesting to hear about. Their journeys to arrive at science and to arrive at a result can be very compelling. There are tragedies and triumphs, wins and losses. The tales of many scientists would make for some really great movies.
The process of discovering something in science is almost never simple and straightforward. There's a lot of frustration and blind alleys. There are moments of despair and temptations to just throw up your hands and give up. There are moments of sublime beauty and revelations into the inner workings of nature. There are moments of clarity and confusion. There are moments of progress and moments of stagnation. How science is done on a day-to-day basis by scientists is sometimes one of the most fascinating tales one could possibly tell.
Science reveals stories about the universe, and the method of science itself as practiced by people is full of countless told and untold stories. So let's get around the campfire and spin a few yarns.