Last night I went for the first time to one of EngenuitySC’s Science Cafe sessions at the Capital City Club. I’d been meaning to go to one for quite some time, and I finally made it to this one.
So did a lot of people. When I called at the last minute to RSVP, the session was full. But I was told to come anyway, as there were usually no-shows.
So I showed up. And while there were a few empty seats as the session was starting, I stood at first in case a latecomer needed one of the seats. Otherwise, SRO.
Neil McLean, Executive Director of EngenuitySC, began the evening with a somewhat wary welcome to the crowd, noting that this was the biggest turnout ever, and that he saw quite a few… new faces… in the audience. He then expressed his hope that the interaction would be civil.
The topic? “Sustainable Nuclear Power: Perspectives on Risk and External Costs.” The speaker was Travis W. Knight, the acting director of USC’s Nuclear Engineering Graduate Program.
He didn’t have an easy night of it. As I tweeted at the time,
Nuclear skeptics in crowd won’t let speaker at Science Cafe get on with his presentation; one keeps interrupting to read from The Economist.
Neil McLean of EngenuitySC has to change rules — 1 question per person — to let Science Cafe speaker continue with nuclear presentation.
When Mary Pat Baldauf, sustainability facilitator for the city of Columbia, wrote back to say it sounded like she was missing a good one, I told her she was “You’re missing humdinger. Speaker fairly rattled by crowd’s hostile interruptions. No way to have a debate, much less a lecture.”
In retrospect — and things really did settle down after Neil imposed that rule, and the speaker began to hit his stride a bit better — maybe I made it sound more dramatic than it was.
But judge for yourself. Here’s a recording from the first few minutes of the lecture. You’ll note that there are three interruptions during the 3 minutes and 25 seconds on the recording, including one from the Economist reader.
For my part, I found the lecture informative. But I went away thinking, with what is happening in Japan, everybody wants to talk about nuclear power. But how many people want to listen?