First of all, the word “cool” sells science short. Science is wonderful. Science is vital, science is fascinating, science is awe-inspiring, and science is praiseworthy. You know what’s been called “cool?” Parachute pants, slap bracelets, pogs, the Macarena, and Hypercolor shirts. (Maybe I’m unfairly picking on the early ’90s, but holy hell, what an awful lot of crap we liked.) Fist-pumping over science’s newfound coolness implies, it seems to me, that “cool” is a higher aspiration for science, and it isn’t.I generally agree with that sentiment. Science should not be those things. Unfortunately, we live in an environment where (i) we need funding from politicians to accomplish what we need to do which (ii) requires popular support from the general public (iii) we have to appeal to an attention-deficit public that quickly move from one "cool" thing to another. When something is in the news, that's what is "cool" at a given time and for better or for worse, that's how you capture the public's imagination and maybe, support.
Second, even when CNN said “cool,” it didn’t mean “cool.” The nomenclature gets tricky here, but they meant “cool-in-quotation-marks.” Without the quotation marks, the word means something completely different. It means Miles Davis and Johnny Cash in a ’76 Mustang. “Cool-in-quotation-marks” has a much broader connotation, as in, “Hey, that paper clip is shaped kind of cool.”
Third, are we supposed to be grateful that the world has once more seen fit to approve of what we do? Should we spin in ecstasy, shouting, “Cool again! We’re cool again! Put the little sunglasses on the Einstein doll, and let’s bop our heads to Moxy Früvous’s entropy song! Break out the Whole Foods sodas!”
But mostly, I don’t want science to be cool, or even “cool,” because cool is transient. People have to ask “What’s cool right now?” because trends constantly change. Is Gwen Stefani still cool? Is Facebook cool? Is Japan cool, or are we done with that?
It shouldn't be that way, but unfortunately, that is how the game has to be played sometime.