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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.


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’…”


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.


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?


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.


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.


29 October 2013

Science-themed Halloween costumes: the photos themselves

It is with great pleasure that we present, for your delectation and inspiration, a gallery of science-themed Halloween costumes.


11 October 2013

Calling for the Best Science-themed Halloween Costumes

Don’t just share your science—wear your science!

We love to highlight the arts of writing and speaking about science on this blog. Sometimes, though, you can communicate your science without saying or writing a word—and look great while you do it.

So please: send your photos to by Wed., Oct. 23. Include the full name, title, and affiliation of the person in the photo and a caption explaining the costume (as if you were writing for a general audience) along with your name and permission to use your photo.


1 October 2013

Let’s Talk Science

As Earth Science week approaches, the attentions of the community turn to education and outreach. Within the broad E&O umbrella, effective communication with K-12 students remains a key priority. A small number of children will grow up to be scientists; all children will grow up to be stake-holders in society. It should be an easy job: even very young children are natural scientists, fascinated by experiments like, how does a liquid behave when I jump in this puddle? Or, how does my pacifier make its way to the floor and back to me if I throw it? (Do the laws of physics change after the 5th time?)


2 July 2013

Building an Effective Social Media Strategy for Science Programs

Social media has emerged as a popular mode of communication, with more than 73% of the teenage and adult population in the United States using it on a regular basis [Lenhart et al., 2010]. Young people in particular (ages 12–29) are deeply involved in the rapidly evolving social media environment and have an expectation of communication through these media. This engagement creates a valuable opportunity for scientific organizations and programs to use the wide reach, functionality, and informal environment of social media to create brand recognition, establish trust with users, and disseminate scientific information.


12 June 2013

Tiny vocabulary spurs scientists’ verbal creativity

Here’s a challenge for scientists who want an eye-opening experience of what it takes to communicate in simple language: Give up 90-plus percent of the thousands of words you rely on in everyday life, but try nonetheless to convey the key concepts and ideas of your science.

That’s what about 30 scientists did last week at a science communication workshop offered by the American Geophysical Union. The workshop was part of the American Meteorological Society’s Summer Policy Colloquium.


13 May 2013

Picture This: Visuals and your Research

A striking image can spark interest in your scientific research, but the picture itself doesn’t need to be informative—in fact, it might be better if it isn’t. That’s one bit of wisdom that veteran science communicators from the news media and science institutions such as NASA shared with an audience Tuesday afternoon at the National Research Council in Washington, D.C.