Being an Engineer

S2E21 Science! The Show

May 07, 2021 Russell Hoffing, Alex Shifman, Dylan Farr Season 2 Episode 21
Being an Engineer
S2E21 Science! The Show
Show Notes Transcript

Russell, Alex, and Dylan all love science, and they all love comedy. Hence, Science! The Show was born. They’ve been promoting scientific literacy for over three years now through their show, sharing subject matter from dark matter to cognitive psychology. Check out their Facebook page for links to videos on YouTube and other information about their show.

The Being An Engineer podcast is brought to you by Pipeline Design & Engineering. Pipeline partners with medical & other device engineering teams who need turnkey equipment such as cycle test machines, custom test fixtures, automation equipment, assembly jigs, inspection stations and more. You can find us on the web at www.teampipeline.us.  

Presenter:

The Being an Engineer Podcast is a repository for industry knowledge and a tool through which engineers learn about and connect with relevant companies, technologies, people, resources and opportunities. Enjoy the show.

Dylan Farr:

The weird thing about being truly engaged is that you're learning stuff. When you're truly engaged. It's just so much of what we need to learn is in in gauging, in the way that it's presented.

Aaron Moncur:

Hello, and welcome to another exciting episode of The Being an Engineer Podcast, we're going to be doing something a little different. Today, we have three guests, which is the most we've ever had on any episode, Dr. Russell Cohen Hoffing, Alex Shifman, and Dylan Farr, none of whom are engineers. Russell is a cognitive psychologist, Alex is an executive producer, and Dylan is a freelance animator, and all three are passionate about promoting scientific literacy. In fact, they feel so strongly about it that they have created a comedy show called Science The Show with an exclamation mark after science that's important, which we will dig into quite a bit today. But before we get into all that, will each of you just take maybe a minute or two? And tell us a little bit about yourselves? And what is what it is you do outside of Science The Show? Let's maybe start with Russell and then we'll go Dylan and then and then Alex.

Russel Hoffing:

Yeah, so I'm excited to be here. So thanks for having us. So I'm a cognitive scientist, I spend my days sitting in front of a computer planning experiments and analyzing data and I focus a lot on understanding physiology and how that relates to brain states. That's what I that's what I spent all my time doing.

Aaron Moncur:

I love it. I love like all these behavioral. My mind is blank now behavioral science books. So I'm super excited to get into some of that with you. Alright, Dylan, you're up.

Dylan Farr:

Hey, yeah, I'm Dylan. I'm an animator and comedian in Los Angeles. Man, I'm already choking on this one. I don't know I there's not a whole lot else I do other than perform for people that don't like me. And I've made cartoons that arguably are funny.

Presenter:

Arguably. Awesome. All right, Alex.

Alex Shifman:

Yeah, Dylan, this is why when you make up your own title, you should make it sound more grandiose. Like thank you to producer until it's a freelance animator. Yeah, but I do markedly less than you do. Yeah, I produce shows like Science The Show and other content. And I write and just generally live that a Hollywood try-hard life.

Aaron Moncur:

Awesome. Awesome. Well, thank you guys, all of you for being here. So the three of you seem pretty different. Russell is an academic, Alex is a producer. Dylan's a Canadian slash innovator? How did the three of you find each other? And how did Science The Show come about?

Alex Shifman:

Yeah, so Russell, I went to college together. We were sophomore and senior year roommates, and became friends pretty quickly, in college where Russell actually wanted to be in media, and then then neuroscience and cognitive science stuff came late, but I'm not going to tell his story for him. And when I moved to LA, he was already here because he grew up in Southern California. And I, we hung out like friends do to think that friends do and I knew Dylan through a completely different side of my life. Dylan and I played Dungeons of Dragons.

Dylan Farr:

Yeah, it's crazy. Yeah, that's because I, I knew Alex, where he was on a sketch team that used to perform with my roommate sketch team. So I've seen Alex around. We end up in the same D&D game together. And yeah, then Alex, you saw me have a good set.

Aaron Moncur:

Do stand up, actually funny. And that's the last time you stand up and it's like, that was good.

Russel Hoffing:

What Alex is not saying is that he did a lot of com, he's done comedy throughout like his whole whole life and actually in college, I think part of I, when did we we also did a sketch here. Yeah, like we did sketch comedy groups together. And I mean, Alex it up. I've been doing a ton of sketch comedy. So they, I think is

Aaron Moncur:

Comedy is like the thread that ties all of you together sounds like,

Dylan Farr:

Yeah.

Aaron Moncur:

Got it.

Alex Shifman:

Yeah. Okay. So Russell and I anyway, to finish the story up, we're trying to do something with science outreach that wasn't like, your typical that wasn't, here's, here's something boring in a PowerPoint. We're like, here's something for kids. And so we thought, well, we could do it comedy style. And I had my friend Dylan's a pretty talented stand up, why don't we try with him? And and we had our first our first edition or first episode, Russell was our science guest. And then we iterated from there. And

Aaron Moncur:

Dylan, I want to hear it, how did you become a stand up because that is such a foreign world to me. And it's so interesting has nothing to do with engineering or science. But hey, I'm the host, and I don't care. That sounds interesting. Let's talk about that.

Dylan Farr:

I was debilitating, we depressed and things otherwise I was in Chicago, I was graduated. I went to school in Chicago for college, and I was graduating, I didn't want to be an animator didn't know what else to do. I'd always liked performing just generally, and visual storytelling. And so stand up became that outlet. So I've always enjoyed making people laugh. That's a big part of why I actually like animation is making funny animations. And so it was an outlet for me that was it's a very, I think the greatest and worst thing about stand up comedy is there's no barrier to entry. Anyone can go to an open mic. Unfortunately, most people will go to open mics are the absolute trash. Absolutely filthy would be. Yeah, but that is uh, that's how I got into stand up. Like open mic stuff came to LA doing like, cuz I was in digital media stuff. So I was doing like some film work. And then just kept grinding out open mics for better for worse.

Aaron Moncur:

How old were you when you did your first open mic.

Dylan Farr:

First open mic, I was 21 and I'm 29 now, good God. You're not supposed to say that stuff out loud. Back to back how long you've been doing comedy? Oh, my God. Um, yeah, it's, uh, yeah, comedy is great. Comedians, I have a lot of hard opinions about, but about the quality of their character, not another, whether or not they're funny.

Aaron Moncur:

But it's usually an inverse correlation. Unfortunately

Dylan Farr:

Yeah, it really is. I think anyone who keeps up with any gossip around comedians knows very quickly. The people at the top are the lowest of the low.

Aaron Moncur:

Oh. Interesting. Really?

Dylan Farr:

Very typical. Yeah, I think it's just I have like a whole lot of philosophizing I could do about comics and their personalities. But that's neither here nor there

Aaron Moncur:

Maybe maybe in round two, we'll get to that one. Yeah. Alex, can you tell us a little bit about how you got into executive producing?

Alex Shifman:

So yeah, executive producing executive producer just means that, like, I make a lot of the final decisions, and I'm really the executive producer, just on Science The Show I, I'm a producer, which, which a producer's, it means something in certain terms, but in other terms, it just means I tried to do shit, right? Like, I tried to make media I tried to do comedy, like I tried to make things happen. And oftentimes, like any other art form, you fail a lot. You try to make things work and then that okay, that one didn't work. So back to the scrap paper iterate again. So I yeah, I've just been trying to make content since college, produce sketch shows, produce, videos produce events, like any thing I can do to create, to create like an item or a culture that can try to get an idea across has been something trying to you're literally describing an entrepreneur.

Dylan Farr:

I know that sounds so corny, but I think that is like literally by definition that what you explained.

Aaron Moncur:

That's a good point.

Alex Shifman:

A producer is an entrepreneur who's whose family doesn't respect them.

Dylan Farr:

Okay

Alex Shifman:

And both of them are poor. Man.

Aaron Moncur:

Well, Russell, your your research focuses on learning about the conditions and mechanisms that influence learning and, and then manipulating those to help people learn new behaviors. I think that most engineers would agree with me that one of the most important things we learn at school getting a degree in engineering is is how to learn. Can you tell us maybe what are some of these conditions and mechanisms that you've identified as influencing how we learn and how how can we leverage those

Russel Hoffing:

Yeah, so so actually, you're referring to this was what I did in grad school, a few years back, and my, this is a lot of my surrounding my dissertation work. So currently I'm doing, I'm focused on other another similar field, but, but the, this, this work, still super interested in and I'm, I'm a science communicator partially because I'm really passionate about learning and helping other people learn. So some of the the way that we, we did our research as we got inspiration from, from what's called perceptual learning, which is like, very, very simple forms of, of learning. And part of the reason that we look to that is because just learning is really complicated thing to study. And so the idea was, if we could distill out some very simple principles of how the brain learns, we could maybe apply that in more complex contexts. And so that's a little bit of background into your question being, what are, what are some of those? Some of those, some of those lessons, and, um, the, I think the lessons are probably fairly intuitive, and what, what does work and, a lot of that, a lot of it comes down to the details, but I think one of the really surprising things about how we learn is like how specific versus general learning can be, that was like, one of the the curses, we would refer to as, like, the curses of specificity, where you think you're, you're learning something, and then you find out that it just doesn't transfer to anything else. And I don't know, a good example of that could be like, you have a gamer, right, who's like an expert at gaming, maybe in like a first person shooter, game, but like, say, you put this person in a real world scenario where, like paint ball or something like, that would not be good, they would not be good at paint ball. And so there's trying to understand, well, what would, what do you need to do to get somebody to transfer what they've learned in one context versus another? And so some, some of those things that we found is, you want to focus on rule based learning. So, and so what is what does that mean? And again, a lot of this research is, is in esoteric, artificial contexts. But the the idea behind rule based learning is that you're you're trying to enforce an abstract, an abstract rule that will that that is what you're learning versus something very, very specific. Let me try to give an example of exactly what that means.

Aaron Moncur:

You're focusing on like, a principle of learning versus some minutiae within that principle that that might not be general enough to be useful for?

Russel Hoffing:

Well, here's, I mean, this is like, I think this is the conundrum, which is really difficult to try and understand is like

Aaron Moncur:

I can tell that you're an academic because you use words like conundrum. Thank you, for classing up my shell.

Russel Hoffing:

Well, it that you can actually what's interesting, right about a rule versus say, a specific instance is that they can both solve a problem, right? Like, they can both solve a problem, but the issue is like, Well, how do you get how do you learn something that solves a bigger class of problems? So let's just say, I want to give like, I'm trying not to give an example of like, one of the studies that we've done because they don't relate very well to the real world. But like, I think, coming up with one on the spot is a little hard. It's a little hard

Aaron Moncur:

I'm putting you on the spot here.

Russel Hoffing:

Yeah.

Aaron Moncur:

I'm gonna I'm gonna ask Alex something. And if you come up with an example, by all means, interject, and we'll get back to that so Alex, one of the things that I learned about you is apparently I hope I'm right about this. You speak fluent Chinese. Is that accurate?

Alex Shifman:

No.

Aaron Moncur:

Not at all?

Alex Shifman:

I mean, I I lived in China for a bit and I can speak getting around Mandarin, but it's not fluent,

Aaron Moncur:

But didn't you translate for sitcoms in Chinese? What is that?

Alex Shifman:

Oh, yeah. That more complicated story than it sounds. I... Wow.

Dylan Farr:

That went from, I know I do not know Chinese too, I clearly can read Chinese

Alex Shifman:

No, I can't even read. I mean I can read. I can read like sign Chinese like, okay, that's the bathroom. There's the kitchen like, no I. So I work or,

Dylan Farr:

For example if you put two doors in front of me both written in Chinese and one said you die if you walk through this door and the other said you don't die, who are those 50-50 for me I'm going to ask then if you put it one door leads to certain death and one door leads to certain life. But in front of both doors there's one person who only tell lies and one person only. And I'm out of my depth. I cannot solve Bertrand Russell asked logic rebel.

Aaron Moncur:

Well, what were you doing in China to begin with?

Dylan Farr:

Yeah. Try figuring it out, man. You're now live. I just graduated from college. And so I didn't really know what else to do. I had been in Katmandu for a month working on a film, I popped over to Shanghai where I worked in the most tenuous sense for a Chinese like TV station, news agency it like a lot of things in China, it was owned by the government. So there wasn't really much to do, like, no one really wanted to do much there. They just had to justify their existence. My job was there was the show no one watched that was on my knees. Always had English translations, because it was supposedly aimed at a Western audience, I guess, which I could cannot understand why. And so they would, they would have someone who didn't really speak English translate the scripts into English, but it was, it was basically a poem, right? Like it was literal meanings of words like This lynching nightmare

Alex Shifman:

It was the terror, right? It was just these beautiful, like, sad, melancholy statements. translated in English, it was my job to argue with my boss, who is from Hong Kong. So he spoke like very proper British English, what the proper way to turn that into, like, I guess, simple, understandable sentences would be so yeah, it was a job for nobody for nothing.

Aaron Moncur:

Well, being a producer, you, you need to understand how to tell a compelling story, which is I assume why you were in that role. And that's also a really important skill to have for anyone who wants to get something done. I have a coach, shout out to Coach Troy, he's listening. And he always tells me that the most important part of my job is to enroll my team or in other words, set the vision and help people get excited about that vision. From your experience, can you share some pointers about how to create and share a compelling story that people want to engage with?

Alex Shifman:

I mean, sure, this is, this is what we do for a Science The Show. And I'm not going away from your question, I'm circling back to it. Through the three ish years, we've been doing this show, we've come at something really basic, that's like, it's one of those, oh, big understandings, but it's because they're the most important and the most meaningful, and that's that, it has to be personal and engaging, if you want people to care. And that can sound like nothing. But if you want to try to get somebody to understand about dark matter, or whatever, it's something that's so academic, right? It doesn't impact your life, in the way that you live it. You want to tell them about it, only, like 1% of people are going to care. And those are the people who are predisposed to care because whatever, like either they're scientists or they're like me, and they like getting high and like looking up at the stars, it's those two things, otherwise, people aren't going to care. In less you find what about it matters to you? And what about it is a thing that they can wrap their minds around. So for instance, right, like, Russell is having a hard time coming up with an example of his work that is going to matter to you because he knows the esoteric, like, these were the learning models we did and it's all like, sorting tasks and things that don't matter a lot to what you do with your life. So it might not totally stick. But the right example of Okay, here's why Russell cares about this stuff. And he's already primed you to care. Russell cares about this because He cares about learning and learning is something that gets him so excited. And he's, I'm sure if we asked Russell why learning is so cool to him and got him not talking academically, he could tell you about like, oh, the way that he gets so jazzed when he watches his son learn something new, or how when he was in college, and he learned about the the systems of the brain and how that learns, like how your brain actually learned something that got him more excited than film or anything ever did.

Dylan Farr:

This analogy, very very that. There's like a weird tone of like That's all they say. It's about like, here's why this matters to me. And to us, if you're talking to your team. What's the story behind this? This is so cool. And then how do we contextualize this in a way that matters to you, right? Like with dark matter, I'd have to explain the cool slides that our past guest showed. But, we've been talking about this as a team for the past two weeks when you guys have a cool contextualizing example.

Russel Hoffing:

For dark matter, I mean, I think, yeah, it really a lot of it, I think. But when Alex talks about personalizing, right, it's like, I think a lot of where we try to talk we push guests is like, Well, why why do they care? In Alex's example, it was me and like, what gets me excited. And so that's what we try to get our guests to do so I think for the dark matter thing. Like, I think there's just like, basic fact of like, what was it like 70% of the universe is like, still, we just don't know what that is. It's just like, it's there. We know, it's there. We know it exists, we just, like don't know what it is. And so that like, that personalization of just like, complete all and like, intense curiosity of like, how is that possible? Like, what does that mean? Like? How can we understand more? Like getting that across? I think is the personalization. And those are the things that I think, a lot of people can connect with, and can can get in on that feeling of all and an inspiration.

Dylan Farr:

Yeah, I think, Oh, sorry. I was, it was just, I think it's a big component. And like comedy, too, is like, we start doing it you like you're gonna go up and tell your story about your friend, Steve, and it fell out a boat, and like real fast, you realize no one gives a fuck about Steve or that boat. It was a very immediate thing that happened to you. And what you have to do your job as a comedian is to get people to connect with them in a way that that story is funny, or whatever it is. Similarly, like, what do you do the show, you have to get people to connect with you in a way that the information you're giving to doesn't just go in one ear and out the other they like they hold on to it in a in a more intimate is the right word, but at least they hold on to it at all. But

Aaron Moncur:

Yeah, I want to point out that we're talking about comedy and media and in Science The Show but all of these things are super applicable to anyone who has to get anything done, which is basically every one, right? I mean, when I talk with like a new customer or potential new customer, I could frame my company in the context of, Pipeline does this and this and that, or I could frame it in the context of your team can get this thing done through us, right? It's framing your communication in a way that the other person cares about it. Because at some level, every human is just self centered and selfish and just wants what we want for ourselves, right? Me, me, me, give me give me give me at some level. Right. And we have to appeal to that. When we're trying to get things done.

Dylan Farr:

Yeah, I think that's okay too to be selfish. I think if I want to be...

Aaron Moncur:

This, this gets into like a bigger conversation. But um, let's let's go there. I think that people only do things for selfish reasons. No one does anything outside of a selfish reason. Right. So let's go ahead, Russell. I'm sure you have plenty to say about this.

Russel Hoffing:

Just curious what you think about altruism then.

Aaron Moncur:

Okay, great. Let's talk about altruism, right? I I'm driving on the highway, and I see a homeless individual begging for money, and I stop on the side of the road and I give that person money. I'm being altruistic, right? If if it made me feel horrible inside to give that money, would I do it? Absolutely not. I do it because it makes me feel good. And that's a selfish thing. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing. But I think at our root, we only do things because it makes us feel good to do that thing.

Dylan Farr:

I don't I don't think I can agree with you since at the same time, it would make me feel a lot better if I just went and bought an ice cream cone with that same money. Like it doesn't make me feel bad. You're right in that it doesn't make me feel like crap to give the person $1. But like with that same dollar, I could do something that would make me feel so much better. Right? Like, I couldn't go by. I mean, I wouldn't, because this isn't my thing I saw you frown when I mentioned weed, so I'm not going to mention drugs again. Like, oh, by candy, I could go buy anything. And I think that would make me feel exponentially better than giving a homeless person $1. But I do still do it. Because in a way yes, there is. I think some selfishness but it it feels like a broader sense of selfishness than this was what I want. Now. It's like, yeah, I selfishly want to live in a world that doesn't disgust me every time I realize like, I want to live in a world. And I'm not talking about the homeless person is what disgusts me. I'm talking about the fact that sam i knows what he meant, but like, we live in a world so sad and so miserable, that there are people who are experiencing homelessness is like, Yeah, okay. I, I selfishly, wish that weren't the case.

Aaron Moncur:

Okay, I'm going to respectfully disagree with with your rebuttal there. Because if it really made you feel exponentially better to go by drugs, or whatever it was that you would go do that. And by definition, whatever choice you made, whatever you did, by definition is what makes you feel better.

Dylan Farr:

I think that's a tautology, because then it's like, Whatever makes you feel better, makes you feel better. So it's gonna make you feel better. I think that that's like, well, then it's on escapable thing,

Aaron Moncur:

I don't even have this conversation to get started. But here we are. This is like

Alex Shifman:

Like a self fulfilling circle.

Russel Hoffing:

Well, yeah. I just, I mean, I think if if, like part of I think when people talk about the the idea of like that you do things because you feel better is that like, there's some like, rational component about the, like, some optimal problem that you're solving, a human knows that if you do this, like you will feel better. But I think that part of the the, the, the focus on the individual is not really the level that it should be focused on, because we're a social species, right? Like, the like, even though it may feel like Yes, I'm acting on my own, like, we've evolved to act on behalf of a species as a whole, right? Like, there's no like, we all over individualistic behaviors are in service, also of our entire species as a whole. Right? So yeah, that's one way you could think about, like, one way you can think about this idea of, it is true, you act on it on an individual basis, like I give this person money, it makes me feel good, but right, like, there's also a calculation going in there that like, well, maybe in the future, this person might, like, also need to help me in the future. Right. Like, there's, there's that, that there's like this baked in evolutionary process and species thinking where we're not just focused on our own well being, but we also want to help others for ourselves. So it's not so cut and dry that, this feeling of feeling good, is, is is a motivator for our actions. There's many other things that are at play. And I think one of those things is I'm trying to point out is that, we act socially all the time. And, and it's, and that is also a motivator. And it is unreal. It is it is parallel to our own intrinsic feeling.

Aaron Moncur:

Well, you could be right I, that was a fun conversation. Thank you everyone for contributing to that. But let's jump back to Science The Show a little bit and talk more about that. Dylan, I'm dreaming big here. What what are your hopes for Science The Show the future? Like where would you like to see it go in the next few years?

Dylan Farr:

Oh, gosh, I mean, audience that isn't just our friends and family. I'm kidding, I'm kidding, it's doing I think for me, um, I didn't know science communication was a field until about three years but more like a year and a half ago, even though I've been doing it for like a year and a half. I was like, I don't know, was like, can we just get up and they're scientists. But, I mean, like Bill Nye except there's a black guy. That's it does shock you to the side, but it might be a good sell.

Russel Hoffing:

I'm happy for you to be our front man.

Dylan Farr:

Does that answer your question, though? More or less?

Aaron Moncur:

That's hilarious. I love it. Yeah, no, it doesn't even matter. As long as we're all laughing I think that's

Russel Hoffing:

There's something I want to, I can jump in about some future things that like we've been working on and where I hope we can go. I mean, a lot of, most people, we've had to pivot a lot, like, during the pandemic and pre pandemic, like, a lot of the things, we were having all live shows in person shows, like at bars, and that, theater venues, and those were going like, incredibly well, like, we had just gone on the road to San Francisco, we booked like, totally, over, sold out show with like, waitlist, we

Dylan Farr:

We sold out a show and didn't believe it. So we called the venue to be like, Misha, the ticket thing is working, right? It's like, yeah, it's working. We don't like this. But sorry. So

Russel Hoffing:

Yeah, I think like getting back, to a place where where we can be in live shows, because that's where I think we do best and, and going on the road more, that that was a big thing for us. And, and, one of the ways that we had had pivoted is is doing like a training, like doing more training thing. So working with, like scientists and science communicators, how to communicate science, like we do, the Science The Show method that we've found a lot of success in and so we recently did a workshop at a science communication conference, and we work with a lot of scientists to do it, like, like, we do it. And so looking forward to finding more partners. And

Dylan Farr:

Yeah, I think it's been super fun. I science communication as like a whole world is so new to me. I've just been just in the deep muck of comedians for so long, that it is a reminder that people can be good, and kind and have conversation that isn't just about themselves. Oh, that's wonderful. Yeah, no scientists they do, they are really rough. I think just to say it's a built in stereotype that scientists don't know how to talk to people. And I think inaccurate, I think there's just a way you can, it's, it's something that can be very easily revised. And it's not, it's not uncommon that you don't even need to help at all. But it's, it's really cool, what we've done over the course of this pandemic, with the show in like meeting other people who do the same thing that we do, but differently, and that's just been really fun to say, for me personally.

Aaron Moncur:

How do you work with scientists? I mean, do you have explicit conversations with scientists about some of your your subject matter? And then you go off and make it funny into a show? Or how does that whole process work?

Dylan Farr:

We, so our show, I'll explain what our shows look like, like the format of our show, and then get an question. Our, our live and our internet shows are both done the same way where it starts with, open Hey, everybody, welcome to the show, here's what's gonna happen. Here's some ground rules, here's who we are. And then our show has a theme, right? So to get that kicked off, we start with our own internal scientists, Russell will come out and teach around the theme of the show through his guys is a cognitive scientist, we keep going back to the dark matter, one, just because it was Cheska. It was a person. But that one was about the unseen universe. So how much of the universe we can't see. So it starts Russell will tell you no, or talk about how so much of the universe we can't see through a cognitive perspective, right? All of our blindnesses to this or that or that. And then the scientist will come out and do the same thing through their lens. But we don't necessarily rewrite it for them, we coach them through it. So they'll come to us with Hey, I want to talk about bees on the most preeminent bee scientist and all of them. And I want to talk about this cool thing that bees do. And then we go on a three week process of working with them, like cool, so why do you care? Okay, great. We know why you care now. So how can you make our audience remember this thing by like participation? Can you make them act it out? Can you make them like, call out? Can you make them get involved in this in some way? Okay, great. Now, let's personalize that again, and then it's just like, it's a loop of how can we personalize this? How can we actually analyze our acts? May Yeah, I guess, make this actionable. And until we reach something that feels, while there's still slides, it's no longer, here's some information. It's not like, here's the thing that matters to me, and I want to get you guys involved in this.

Russel Hoffing:

Yeah, and I'd say the the participatory like demonstration part is like, I think the cornerstone of what we do and where we work with scientists and engineers, we've worked with engineers on the show to actually to to try and come up with these, like participatory demonstrations that are fun and engaging. Like, for example, I'm trying to remember back we had Tracy Drain on the

Aaron Moncur:

She was on, yeah. Just went live this past weekend in fact, she was on the show.

Dylan Farr:

I was like, Oh, I know about this the hearing of like, what's gonna go wrong on the Space Shuttle thing? That was the worst explanation.

Russel Hoffing:

But yeah, so so with Tracy, with Tracy Drain, like, she is a systems engineer, if I'm getting that that correct. And so we were trying to communicate like, how do you tell, how do you work with people to tell them like what a systems engineer does, right? And so we, we came to a spot where, like, Alright, let's literally, like try to work through, like, how is this an engineer with thinking, like, engaged with a problem? So so we came up with this, this, this participatory demonstration where she gave a scenario, like a real world scenario be like, all right, like, we have this spaceship that is really freaking cool. And there's this issue of like, Well, what do we, what do we do if it runs out of power? Or like, if we come up with this problem, and so, we basically worked with her to come up with these scenarios and, and, and come up with ways to actually ask the audience like, Well, how do you, what are the issues that I should try to be thinking about? And so it's really like, that's the demonstration that's the thing that's just really fun for people to engage with to, it's almost like like great a backdoor into like, understanding engineering or science as, once they're engaged and having a good time, like, they don't realize that they're, quote unquote, learning, right. And that's really like the where we try to focus a lot on and how we do the shows, and we build everything around that that demonstration, the presentation, why you care about it, and what you get from it.

Alex Shifman:

The weird thing about being truly engaged is that you're learning stuff. When you're truly engaged. It's just so much of what we need to learn is in in gauging, in the way that it's presented, right? Like I right now, I am because of the pandemic, taking lower level college math courses. I went to a liberal arts school, I never took Math, because Math was hard for me in high school. So now I'm back doing like college level Trig, stuff that I'm sure everyone on this engineering podcast does in their sleep, or they have a computer program that doesn't sell well. They don't think about it anymore. shaved head, right. Yeah, yeah, that's what we do. That at its best, it's engaging, it's fun. You're like you're solving puzzles, you're having a good time. at its worst. It's absolute drudgery. It's, it's the worst possible symbol crunching and it's terrible. And all learning is like that. And if you can find this backdoor into that learning, people are engaged and they're picking stuff up more than they could possibly know. And through that Tracy's was a fantastic example.

Aaron Moncur:

Have you ever had a situation during the show where you're presenting some scientific data or fact or principle, and people in the audience are like, no, that's not a thing. You guys are wrong. People just, generally yeah, okay. I'll take your word for it. This is right.

Dylan Farr:

People are jet we've never had anyone. I guess that would be heckling us. Yeah. Like we've never had anyone. Heckle is the one time we've maybe had a scientist where people could be like, no, he also happens to be very engaging. And so like, out there, I'm talking about so one of my one of our very good friends. spiros is like this incredibly high level quantum mathematician, right. Like he's a mathematical quantum physicist. And he was talking about like, Well, time travel is possible. Right? Yeah. The science for Avengers Endgame. Right. Like, that's his claim to fame. So they're like, Well, here's how time travel works. Is him being like, yeah, yeah, no, here's how it would work. And so it's like, Okay, this is all very high level math stuff. And also, he has this great speaking voice in this way about him. We're like, all right, man. Yeah Yeah. No, he definitely is a person that Yeah, he'll, like, yeah, he'll talk circles around you and make it. He'll make sense in big giant quotes, and menu, and you get done. You're like, I guess anything is possible. If anything's possible. That's some wild shit. You just said. Here's another answer to that. Whenever we have any science that could potentially be contentious, not, like things that people are hot button issues right now climate science and vaccine science we make sure that our expert is someone who like we're not gonna deal with these problems if someone is like, but what about this question I have, they're gonna be like, cool. This is my expertise. Let's talk about it. Right? So it's not like with a science communication if, if you're not the foremost, like expert in climate science, but you have to talk about it and someone comes back with like, well, this here little thing, I have a question about that, like, you're gonna be okay, out of your depth. But if you are that expert, and that's who we want to deal with, then you're like, yeah, of course, I know how to answer that question. So with anything really contentious like that, we have someone who is within the right realm to speak. And then if it's something like, Oh, I don't believe that brains exist. And like

Russel Hoffing:

Well, I actually, I mean, I'll say that Tracy had handled something. I'm trying to remember exactly how he she handled a totally left out of left field.

Alex Shifman:

Well, this was our show, right?

Russel Hoffing:

This was for this was for this one. No, it wasn't for our show. It was metrics when we met Tracy, she was at a, it was a Science and Entertainment Exchange event. It's these events that are super cool, where they bring in scientists to talk to writers and actors, and like, big, big, big industry, entertainment industry, folks. And I'm trying to remember exactly what the question is, remember this, I remember this exactly, but you go as far as you want, and then I'll do it. Well, I was just going to explain, like, how she dealt with this, and how do you deal like, as a science communicator, how do you deal with questions that like, come from a totally different place than you just like, such a totally different place that like, Well, what do you think about God? Or like, like, how did God make that happened? That's an extreme that I'm bringing up but but just trying to paint the picture, that it's just like, a really big question out of field. And I think the way that you that you deal with those questions is you can bring it back to a personal note, like, like you, you try to act as a human right, like, as a person that doesn't have all the answers, but has opinions has opinions and ideas of how you engage with the world and what you think about things and there's like, there are kind ways to, to talk about stuff that just like doesn't fit into your world, and I think, Science The Show, like, that's really a big flavor of sScience The Show is to really see scientists as humans, like as people that are not like arbiters of language and arbiters of knowledge and just trying to teach and in push things on to you, but they're really trying to engage and just be a person, with their own thoughts and opinions and ideas. So, so that that example, I don't know Alex, you want to fill in just like how Tracy just nailed it. She's just

Alex Shifman:

I honestly think that the abstract is perfect like you you've hit all the the necessary elements. Yeah.

Aaron Moncur:

Something I've heard a couple times now from from Dylan and from Russell and I'm sure Alex agrees with this is this this idea of being kind and nice and dealing with with thoughtful people? Is that like, Is that an unintentional part of the show? Or is that just organically become something that's important to the show?

Dylan Farr:

Yeah, that is I would say that that is it's it's a hard line to walk because we also want to be funny and we're not mean funny like, not not like it's just not who the three of us entity

Russel Hoffing:

Except for Dylan likes to just himself just all the time

Dylan Farr:

I'm very good at being mean to myself. I'm I'm also pretty good at being mean to other people, but I don't like doing that. That's not fun. I think I'll let Alex finish and I can

Alex Shifman:

No, no, you finish

Dylan Farr:

Oh, yeah, I guess I was gonna say as far as like, being nice and like, how I think the benefit of our show when it comes to like dealing with like, like, was like weird questions that might be like difficult to answer, sometimes in I guess, maybe controversial ways. The benefit of running a comedy show, as people go into the show have like, the vibe is different, like people weren't going in there to be extremely contentious or whatever with you. Not that it can't happen. But that is a and also on top of that, like, you pick a type of comedy that you're you're building like whatever that comedy brand is. It's like, there's a big difference between Dave Attell and John Millenia. It's like they're both funny people, but like, they don't put them on the same lineup. I mean, I guess you could theoretically but they're different. Like it's different, like energy. And so I think the type of I think just from me personally, the type of people I meet that are scientists that I like to hear talk about stuff, they talk to you, my son, my cousin, he's a he's a scientist. He's like a poet. I couldn't be more opposite. He's like published. He's very well read. He's a very smart man. And he talks to me like I I've read all the books he's read. And that's so sweet of him. Because he doesn't he doesn't make me feel stupid talking to me. And I think scientists, it is not hard for them to do the same thing. And that is really as a nice feeling. It's nice for someone to talk to you, like you're on this IQ or appeared. It's like, it's like a scientist is a superhero. I get every scientist if you consider their expertise, making them like Superman, Superman doesn't run around, and like, punch people into mulch. Like that's not a that's not a human quality of Superman. I guess there's lots of iterations of his character that you can make them a monster. That's an analogy. I don't need to go down. But is that making sense?

Aaron Moncur:

Point well taken. Thank you. Well, we are running up on time. But before we go, can you guys share a little bit about how how listeners can find out more about Science The Show and maybe any other projects that you guys are working on?

Dylan Farr:

Yeah, the best way is to find us on YouTube right now. We have a lot of our past shows archived on YouTube, our both past live and our past live stream show. So that's Science The Show on YouTube, and you can also find us on social media. It's Dylan, do you remember our exact wording for the handle? Yeah, yeah, pull it right here. I'm pretty sure Twitter is @showscience. Let me double check, though. Hmm. You think so our social media presence as it might not be a surprise, it's not super active? Yeah. So it's @showscience for Twitter. And it's @sciencetheshow for Instagram. But yeah, you'll get you'll see clips from old shows, fires people we've had on there. So there's obviously there's information there. But YouTube, if you want to see what the work that we've done most recently, that's gonna be the place to find it.

Russel Hoffing:

Yeah. You can reach out to us and, we work with like, companies and individuals and they reach us through our Instagram or email, whatever

Dylan Farr:

realistically, yeah, email is like the best way. Like, that's the one thing that's actually extremely active. And by active I mean, Alex is on top of constantly.

Aaron Moncur:

What is the email address?

Alex Shifman:

[email protected]

Aaron Moncur:

[email protected]

Dylan Farr:

So funny. It feels like I'm talking like in the fucking 90s. So like, yeah, you can find us on our email. Fax while you're at it.

Aaron Moncur:

Alright, guys, well, this has been super fun. Thank you. Thank you guys for showing up and talking with me. Is there anything else that we haven't talked about that we should have?

Dylan Farr:

No, this is a blast. I mean, this is funny. I we keep talking. But I can't think of anything else we haven't covered.

Alex Shifman:

Yeah, me neither

Aaron Moncur:

Run to you in the future. Alright guys, thanks again. I'm Aaron Moncure, founder of Pipeline Design & Engineering. If you liked what you heard today, please share the episode. To learn how your team can leverage our team's expertise developing turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines and with product design, visit us at teampipeline.us. Thanks for listening.