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10 April 2014

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

Image by Miles Traer.

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.

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1 April 2014

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

When trying to captivate the public, consider using words like “anisotropy” to really get people’s attention. Study the word cloud above for more great jargon to slip into everyday conversations. Wordle by Olivia Ambrogio, AGU.

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

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20 February 2014

Even Stephen is hawking his science differently

Stephen Hawking demonstrated recently how the traditional process of sharing research results is changing when he uploaded a paper about black holes to the web. Photo credit: NASA.

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).

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18 February 2014

Really Reaching the Public, Face-to-Face

Peter Foukal, second from right, stands next to the East Point Solar Observatory (EPSO) during its inauguration in 1995. Foukal built the Nahant, Mass., observatory to share the wonder of astronomy with the public. From left to right are Mrs. Stephens, Nahant Elementary School science teacher; Dr. J. Ayres, Director of the Northeastern Univ. Marine Sciences Laboratory, Nahant; Peter Foukal; and , R. Carter, Chair of the Nahant School Board. Photo by Elisabeth Foukal.

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.

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2 December 2013

The Gift of Science Communication

National Parks bookstore. U.S. National Park Service photo by Reine Wonite.

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

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25 November 2013

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

Great white shark. Photo by Hermanus Backpackers.

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.

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22 November 2013

Open Question: Talking science with family and friends

This turkey cannot face the idea of explaining its research. Photo by Olivia V. Ambrogio.

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?

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18 November 2013

Knock, Knock, Knocking on Communication’s Door

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.

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15 August 2013

Give your article a good start: Titles for the Geosciences

The number of words in an article title – and even the type of punctuation used – can affect how often an article is cited, according to guest blogger Cecilia Bitz. Photo by Olivia Ambrogio, American Geophysical Union.

A good title draws you in. You read it and want to know more. A title should advertise the paper, but not promise more than the paper can deliver. An elegant title is not overly wordy. One of my favorite pithy titles is “Arctic sea ice decline: Faster than forecast” by Julienne Stroeve. You know what this paper is about. I can’t think of a more succinct way to say it.

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2 July 2013

Building an Effective Social Media Strategy for Science Programs

Devon Baumbauk, an undergraduate student at Arizona State University, checks the EarthScope Facebook page for the latest science information. Photo by Wendy Bohon.

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.

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