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"I told my boss I couldn't come into work today because of a cold. I thought it seemed more of an acceptable reason than anxiety so bad I couldn't leave the house." 

Have you heard of Whisper?

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Reading the newspapers at the moment can be a pretty depressing business, so this week I looked to the TED website for something a little bit different.  For those of you who don’t know TED, it’s a small not-for-profit organisation ‘devoted to ideas worth spreading’.  The organisation holds talks by leaders in their field from around the world on a really wide range of topics, including technology, entertainment and design.  It’s definitely worth a look, although I warn you, you’ll need some time, it’s quite addictive!

One talk that really caught my attention (and not just because he’s local) was by Professor Brian Cox, from the University of Manchester.  It built on his recent TV programme, ‘Wonders of the solar system’, but the focus of his talk for TED was on why we need to continue our investment in curiosity-led science.  Obviously as a social scientist myself I’m a bit biased but I think his case is equally valid, and I found his argument very compelling, not to mention timely given that public spending is under such scrutiny.

His argument revolved around two main ideas.  Firstly, he mentioned the emotional impact of curiosity-led science; primarily that it inspires us.  I agree wholeheartedly with this; there are certain scientific discoveries that have been made within my lifetime that have had a real ‘wow’ factor... (e.g the human genome) and we know that inspired people demonstrate more drive and persistence - qualities that it’s hard to put a price on.

Secondly, Professor Cox highlighted the importance of the innovation that comes from curiosity-led science.  The example he used in the talk, was that understanding the structure of the atom led to the development of transistors and silicon chips!  In turn Social Science has really challenged how we interpret and change behaviour e.g. the theory of cognitive dissonance. These innovations have been the facilitators of globalisation and have fundamentally changed the nature of the lives we lead.  When you think about it - and thanks to TED I did - pretty important stuff!

The UK science budget is currently around 3.3 billion pounds - which represents about 0.5% of GDP. Brian Cox has certainly convinced me that it’s money well spent.

http://www.ted.com/talks/brian_cox_why_we_need_the_explorers.html

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Cary CooperGood Day at Work™

The new wellbeing resources hub founded by @profcarycooper and Roberston Cooper. Join for FREE and access blogs, videos, downloads, podcasts and more.

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MD of Cary Cooper's business psychology firm, Robertson Cooper - for all things wellbeing, engagement and resilience at work.

Cary CooperCary on Twitter

Professor Cary Cooper, Director and Founder of Robertson Cooper Ltd, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School.

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