“I want to bring science where it is not going,” says Éric Lagadec to 88,000 subscribers

Why is Pluto no longer considered a planet in the solar system? What is the black hole? Why is the sky blue ? What is the astronomical origin of the word heat wave? These are the kinds of questions to which Eric Lagadecan astrophysicist at the Observatory of the Côte d’Azur in Nice, tries to answer almost every day on Twitter.

Breton, with parents who did not study, child of pop culture and guitarist, this “everyman” with three years of thesis, eight in postdoctoral studies in Manchester, Munich then Cornell, regularly posts ” wire to unwind” to allow everyone to “better understand” and “love astronomy”.

The black hole explained thanks to Kouign-amann

On this social network, since 2009, he was “no longer an observer” until the day Elon Musk sent satellites into space and offered a response from astronomers with the dangers that this would represent. “Twitter is a very good information tool,” he comments. The fact that we are limited in the characters makes it possible to be concise and clear. Thus, I put one idea per tweet, with an image (or a GIF) to capture people’s attention. I try to talk to them with simple words and often with humor. This is also how I teach. I feel like you remember better when you’re having a good time.” In less than a year, he “won” 84,500 subscribers, “two months ago, I had 20,000 at once,” he says.

Humble, he assures that he does not know what the recipe for this success is. Maybe she’s hiding in the one du Kouign-amann when he compared it to the black hole to explain this celestial object to Internet users?

And even before his tweets, Éric Lagadec had already been talked about around the world. In particular with a photo (above) nicknamed “the pacman of the moon” that he took when he was in Chile but also thanks to his discovery of a star with a diameter about a thousand times larger than that of our Sun , “the fried egg nebula”, which inspired the name of a rock band.

“Astronomy is combined with the feminine and in color”

Teacher-researcher, the “Twitto” (Twitter user) has already given conferences, but admits that with this social network, he can “reach a wider audience”. He continues: “My tweets can sometimes reach 300,000 different profiles. My intention is really to take science where it doesn’t usually go. »

And it doesn’t stop at an Internet broadcast. Éric Lagadec is part of the Science pour tous 06 association, which carries out interventions in the villages of the department. He also works with Mamadou N’Diaye to enable the development of astronomy and astrophysics in Africa. “For me, it’s very important to make science accessible to everyone,” he says. Astronomy is combined in the feminine and in color. He recently published portraits of women scientists on his free online site.

And for a greater impact, he regularly intervenes in the media on television and radio. He is also preparing a book which will be “in the style of his Twitter account” but also a comedy show. “I want to give back what I was given, that people understand and reclaim the sky,” he sums up simply.

Astronomy to understand environmental issues

For him, there is also a real stake in this diffusion. “It is very important to make science accessible, especially when we are faced with societal and environmental challenges like those that await us, develops the scientist. Life on Earth is a long journey of 13.8 billion years. And we are destroying the living conditions on this planet in some 200 years. It would be a shame to ruin everything. The important message is to allow awareness of the urgency of the situation to solve the problem together. »

The astrophysicist adds: “As a researcher, it is a duty to warn about the situation and also to show how closely astronomy and ecology are linked”. He is aware of the “chance” of not having a malicious community when he brings up this subject as is the case for other personalities on this social network.

He concludes the same way he ends his “threads”: “Earth is the only known planet where there is beer and my mother’s pancakes so it’s important to take care of her”.

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