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Friday, 16 June, 2000, 21:16 GMT 22:16 UK
Scientists honoured across UK
Tower NSSC
The National Space Science Centre is a landmark project for the millennium
A major driving force behind one of the UK's big millennium science projects has been honoured with a CBE.

John Eggleston is leading the group that is building the 46m National Space Science Centre in Leicester.

The centre is a so-called landmark project that receives funding from the Millennium Commission. There are 12 of them in all, sited across the UK, with the Dome in London being the biggest.

When the NSSC is completed in the spring of 2001, it will have an exhibition centre, a research centre for space science, a planetarium, and a Challenger learning centre.

"It's key aim is to raise the public understanding of science," John Eggleston told BBC News Online. The centre would also act as a magnet to draw high technology businesses to the East Midlands, he said.

"This CBE is a great honour for me, but it is also a great accolade for the team putting the project together - because this is a team effort."

Energy and duty

Ian Fells, who has made many TV appearances to talk on science matters, has also got a CBE.

The Professor of Energy Conversion at the Newcastle University, Ian Fells has advised government ministers on energy issues and is also science adviser to the World Energy Council.

Fells BBC
Professor Ian Fells talks on energy issues
"Everyone has a view on energy and energy production," he said. "My aim is to introduce a little reality into the debate."

His mission to explain has seen him front television programmes such as The Great Egg Race, Take Nobody's Word For It and Murphy's Law.

Improving the public understanding of science via the media should be a big part of the job of all scientists, he said.

"It can be quite hard to put science across to the public but I don't think some scientists work hard enough at it. They give up. But we have a duty, a responsibility if you like, to explain what we are on about.

"After all, many of us in universities are funded by public money."

Talking numbers

A co-host of Professor Fells on a BBC television science series, Take Nobody's Word For It, is also honoured.

Vorderman BBC
Carol Vorderman: Driven by numbers
Carol Vorderman, who went on from the 1987 programme to become one of the most highly paid presenters on TV, said her MBE was "fab" news.

The Cambridge graduate who amazes viewers with her mastery of maths on the Countdown quiz show said the honour was recognition for her work in getting young people to be less afraid of numbers.

"I know it says this is for services to broadcasting, but I think it's really because I've always, always tried to popularise maths, sometimes against the odds," said Carol, who is involved in the UK Government's Maths 2000 initiative.

"But I've got a long way still to go - I haven't even started yet."

Another of science's "great communicators" listed for an honour is Professor John Holloway, Pro-Vice Chancellor at Leicester University.

More than toothpaste

Professor Holloway gets an OBE for services to chemistry, chemical engineering and to education. He made a name for himself in the early 60s by working on the newly-discovered noble gas compounds, and has also done a lot of work on fluorine.

"Fluorine chemistry has had a huge impact on our lives," he told BBC News Online.

"It created the CFCs and their replacements, it's the basis of a lot of plastics like Teflon, it's the basis of the nuclear industry, and if you go into hospital and have an anaesthetic you'll be breathing in a fluorine compound.

"It's hugely important, but people don't know about fluorine apart from what is in their toothpaste."

Professor Holloway has spent a great deal of his time on the lecture circuit, bringing chemistry to a wider audience.

"It's been a pleasure and a delight to engage with the public," he said. "There have been occasions when kids have come up to me afterwards and said 'that was mega'. That is very rewarding."

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