Monday, November 24, 2014

Having just read a Commentary piece by Jack Andraka in I thought some people would be interested in an email sent by myself to the Controller of CBBC, Cheryl Taylor, on 11th August 2014. I have not received a reply from Ms Taylor -
To Cheryl Taylor, Head of CBBC 

Dear Cheryl, 
I'm not sure if CBBC will be making any more series of Absolute Genius with Dick and Dom, but there are quite a lot of scientific geniuses who haven't yet had their own programmes, and I had an idea which you might like to consider. 
Some of the featured scientists seem to have been selected to help promote equality - for example Caroline Herschel instead of her more illustrious older brother, or Elsie Widdowson rather than her colleague Robert McCance. To my mind that's a perfectly reasonable policy considering the discrimination women have had to put up with over the years. And there are still some very important women who shouldn't continue to be overlooked; most especially the extremely significant contribution Rosalind Franklin made to the discovery of DNA. Many feel Rosalind was treated unfairly by the male-dominated scientific elite. 
However, it's not only women who've suffered discrimination. Alan Turing was a gay man whose contribution to the world could hardly be underestimated. Alan might have achieved even more had his life not been cut short on account of persecution by the authorities. It's regrettable that the Absolute Genius programme about him failed to tell kids that he was gay. And in the context of CBBC promoting equality, it just seemed like anti-gay bigotry hasn't yet been overcome. 
So here is my idea: Over the weekend I was watching speakers at the Wikimania Conference in London. One of the more inspiring speakers was a young man called Jack Andraka. He is 17 now, but about three years ago he developed a brilliant and inexpensive method of detecting pancreatic cancer at an early stage. He is now working on two or three new projects, including making the test work with other forms of cancer. Up till now the Absolute Genius series has only included scientists who are no longer alive but, as far as I know, there is no reason not to include a living genius. In fact it might well inspire more young people to get involved. And there's one more thing about Jack Andraka - he is an out gay man, so a programme about him could help put right the failure to mention that Alan Turing was gay in series 2. 
Thanks for reading. 
Kind regards,

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