Tell us more about your essay, Ici, la Terre. Where did you get the idea? Why should we read it?
Even though knowledge transfer to the general public is not generally valued in the research world, I have always been determined to do it and to include these activities and publications in my CV. Since it is the Quebec and Canadian taxpayers who fund my work, I feel that I must explain to people what I do and why it is important.
I have always been concerned with making knowledge accessible. When I was a student, I had a radio show where I highlighted little-known scientists and earth science topics. A few years ago, I also worked with some colleagues on a comic book about permafrost that was translated into several languages. This interest had several unexpected ramifications.
When I was in France, I had a research position with no teaching duties. The time was right to develop a new popularization project. I was told: why don't you write a book? In the natural sciences, it is not too common to publish books for the general public. Thinking back to my columns on CKRL radio in Quebec City, I thought that I had discovered and broadcast many interesting stories, but radio is an ephemeral medium. I thought it would be interesting to leave a trace of these stories that deserve to be told.
So I pulled out my columns and continued my research on them. It was a top secret project for four years. I wrote a few lines from time to time. Then, a few years ago, I contacted a publishing house in Montreal to whom I sent a chapter as a sample, and they liked the style. For two years, we exchanged different chapters and comments, until two years ago, they confirmed that there was enough material to make a book. I've been working hard to finish it. The launch is scheduled for November 2 and I still can't believe it.
It starts with a desire to popularize science in general and Earth sciences in particular. There are ten chapters, ten stories inspired by my first love of geology, my field experience in Siberia, on plate tectonics, seabed exploration, glaciation... It takes place from the 17th century to the 1960s. These ten adventures aim to introduce scientists and the social and political context of their time. The researchers are human, therefore imperfect. Each one has his own colors in relationships of competition and collaboration. The human aspect is rarely evoked in the discoveries, so I wanted to make discover it. The book is aimed at the general public and it is written in a style acccessible to everyone, from our teenagers to our grandmothers. It is for everyone who has some interest in science in general and the Earth in particular.
Ici, la Terre
Dix aventures scientifiques qui ont changé notre image du monde
By Frédéric Bouchard