Hurdles Even Here

My good buddy Diederik was on the popular evening variety show De Wereld Draait Door Tuesday evening, being interviewed by the host Matthijs van Nieuwkerk about the Nobel prize going to the graphene people. It was a rousing success: on twitter, people were wondering whether he had a fan club, and clamoring for him to appear on the program more often! It was wonderful to see Diederik combine his gift for entertaining people with the contagious enthusiasm with which he does everything. The clip below is ten minutes well spent, if you speak Dutch that is.

He did a brilliant job, but if I’m to keep true to the principles of this blog, I’ll have to make a serious observation, not just congratulate him on a job well done — sorry, Diederik. Well, my observation is about the part that starts almost exactly two minutes into the interview. I’ve transcribed it and translated it into English below:

MVN: He won, and you were ecstatic, is that what you said?

DJ: Maybe not ecstatic, but I worked a lot with the material [graphene] at university, and it’s such a cool material! His winning is completely justified. It’s as if… well… if you read the papers from those days, then the American phrase “It’ll even walk your dog!” comes to mind. It’s strong, it’s flexible, you can see through it, it conducts infinitely better than copper — well, not infinitely of course — a million times better…

MVN: [interrupting] Please consider, Diederik, that not all the viewers have your brains!

Of course it’s good practice for talk show hosts to interrupt their guests when they’re not getting to the point quickly enough. I happen to think Matthijs van Nieuwkerk is a good interviewer. However, probably without even meaning to, he came uncomfortably close to the knee-jerk reaction that physicists are so familiar with: physicist starts talking, and interlocutor stops listening because he’s busy thinking “Oh no! He’s opening his mouth and I’m not going to understand anything that comes out!”

My geek heart breaks a little whenever that happens.

Not too much though, because Diederik went on to give one of the best popular-science explanations I’ve ever heard. Seriously, watch the video.

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6 thoughts on “Hurdles Even Here

  1. Wauw Philip, dankjewel voor je mooie woorden, moest er een beetje van blozen. Terechte observatie, door de haast en hysterie niet eens opgevallen. Ik herken jou een beetje sterven elke keer als dat gebeurd. Geef ons een kans :). Gelukkig, advokaat van de duivel, is het verder niet meer gebeurd.

    Super blog!

    • Ik vroeg me al af of jij het zo had ervaren. Ik heb ook al van andere mensen gehoord dat ze er helemaal niet uit halen wat ik eruit heb gehaald, dus het zou zomaar eens kunnen dat ik onzin praat 😉 Ik begrijp echter niet wat je met het tweede deel van je opmerking bedoelt; wie speelt er nu advocaat van de duivel en waarom?

  2. Leuke uitlegging! Volgens mij een betere manier waarop de interviewer Diederik kunt ontbreken is te vragen “geleiding? – wat betekent dat?”

  3. Pingback: Revelations about the Rapture « The Mad Scientist Review

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