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10 April 2014

Mapping fantasy: The story behind the Game of Thrones geologic maps

Science fiction can be a really cool gateway for sharing science fact. Earth science is imaginative, and can draw on pop culture, like the HBO show Game of Thrones. My graduate school friend and Generation Anthropocene co-producer, Miles Traer, recently brought science fact and science fiction together over this show in a hilariously awesome and super fun project.


7 April 2014

How climate modelers became calendar models

With some trepidation, we knocked on the first climate scientist’s door. Although we’re seasoned science writers at major research institutions, the request we were about to make was far different from our usual ones for interviews or images from field expeditions. We had decided to create a 2014 Climate Models wall calendar, using climate scientists as models, in the belief that humor can be used to deliver serious messages in a less serious, but still meaningful way.


1 April 2014

Scientists must use more jargon for public to appreciate science, study shows

Most of the public is turned off by scientists’ overly accessible and personalized descriptions of their work, new research shows.


17 March 2014

St. Patrick’s Science Limericks

Enjoy the greatest tradition of the holiday: science-themed limericks!


11 March 2014

Calling for Science-Themed Limericks: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Style!

The best way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is to write a science-themed limerick–and then get it featured on The Plainspoken Scientist!


24 February 2014

Illustrated IPCC Haiku?

“I didn’t deliberately set out to distill the Summary for Policymakers of the latest IPCC report into illustrated haiku. But, one weekend when I was too sick to leave the house, I found myself inspired by its ‘Headline Statements’…”


20 February 2014

Even Stephen is hawking his science differently

CHICAGO – Last month, Stephen Hawking uploaded a two-page commentary about his new ideas about black holes to arXiv, a preprint server hosted by Cornell University Library covering research in physics, mathematics, computer science, nonlinear sciences, quantitative biology and statistics.

The paper generated buzz among journalists, who reported on Hawking’s commentary, and it also took off on social media and in the blogosphere where others in the scientific community commented on, discussed and contested Hawking’s ideas.

What Hawking did — posting his thoughts to the site rather than going through the traditional channels — and the commentary that ensued would not have been possible a decade ago, Carl Zimmer, a columnist with The New York Times, told an audience here Feb.13 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).


18 February 2014

Really Reaching the Public, Face-to-Face

This past summer I was able to provide a young couple with their first view of Saturn through a telescope, and afterward they told me what a profound experience this look into space had been for them. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen such an emotional response since I opened the East Point Solar Observatory, a small public observatory in Nahant, Mass., in 1995. But listening to them reminded me how lucky we scientists are to pursue a career that brings out such warm feelings in our neighbors. It also made me wonder whether the effectiveness of our national approach to public outreach might be increased by more face-to-face contact between scientists and the public.


14 February 2014

Science Valentines!

Whether you adore Valentine’s Day or despise it, you’ve got to love a clever valentine—especially if it’s science themed. Consider these great examples, and let your heart beat faster as you contemplate the timeless beauty of science merged with romance.


10 February 2014

Modelling Middle Earth’s climate: How I borrowed some of Tolkien’s magic for paleoclimate science

Dan Lunt, a paleoclimate modeler at the University of Bristol (UK), describes how he reached out to new audiences about climate science by modeling the climate of Tolkein’s Middle Earth.


24 January 2014

How to Bore Everyone with Science

Ever wondered if your thrilling science is dull to others? Maybe you should start.


20 December 2013

Senator Olympia Snowe Encourages Scientists to Make Their Voices Heard

The large auditorium was standing-room only for former Senator Olympia Snowe’s (R-Maine) address at AGU’s 2013 Fall Meeting. An ally with a history of standing up for many of AGU’s key issues on and off Capitol Hill, Senator Snowe resigned in January of 2013 over what she saw as an increasingly inept and hyper-partisan atmosphere in Congress. During her time in the Senate, Snowe positioned herself in the middle of …


2 December 2013

The Gift of Science Communication

This year, why not give the science communicators in your life something that speaks to their passion for sharing science?


25 November 2013

From Silent Spring to . . . Jaws? Using Stories to Communicate Science

Guest blogger John Calderazzo, a nonfiction writer and Colorado State University English professor, explains how storytelling isn’t just for fiction anymore: it can help you communicate your science and bring it to life.


22 November 2013

Open Question: Talking science with family and friends

With Thanksgiving around the corner, many of us will soon be celebrating with friends and family who have no idea what we do. How do you talk about science over the holidays? If you don’t, why don’t you?


Speak science to me: AGU’s expert outreach network

Let me tell you… “People should know about this!” That comment, or a variation on it (“More people should know about this!”; “Why don’t people know about this?”) is one that comes up often when talking about science. It’s a phrase I used a lot when I was still studying marine invertebrates, and it was one of the main reasons I went into science communication and outreach. Whether it’s about …


19 November 2013

Make STEM Education a Priority

I feel so lucky to be working at AGU as an intern in the Science department, but my geoscience career has not been without challenges and struggle. Through my inherent passion for Earth science and the confidence that a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degree could provide job security, I fought to attain a B.S. from the Department of Geosciences at Penn State University. If not for the encouragement …


18 November 2013

Knock, Knock, Knocking on Communication’s Door

Guest blogger John Calderazzo, a nonfiction writer and Colorado State University English professor, explains how rapping your knuckles on a table might teach you a crucial lesson about communicating science.


12 November 2013

New Website Wants to Encourage Public Discussion of Climate Change by Scientists

What are your thoughts on the new Climate Change National Forum and Review (CCNFR)? According to the website’s founders, the forum offers one way for scientists, and eventually policy makers, to join the discussion on climate change. The organization’s founders, Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, Dr. Barry Lefer, and Prof. Tracy Hester, developed CCNFR to educate the American public on the science of climate change and its policy implications. CCNFR’s main vehicle …


5 November 2013

What Would Leonardo Do?

Want to communicate about science with kids in a compelling way? Guest blogger Rick Colwell and his geomicrobiology group at Oregon State University learned from experience that it helps to give young folks something fun and informative to do and to give them something to take away with them, too. Figuring that out took a couple of tries, Colwell recalls.