Posts

December 17, 2014

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4:25 PM | Worldwide weird weather words
To celebrate both the Christmas period and the variety of nationalities within the UEA ClimateSnack group we have put together this group post. In the UK it is often said that as a nation we are obsessed with the weather, here we demonstrate that many countries have idioms relating to the local meteorological conditions. This […]Author informationRichard JonesI'm a meteorology PhD student at the University of East Anglia, currently investigating weather and climate in the Amundsen Sea, […]

December 16, 2014

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6:51 PM | What right do they have?
What right to members of the public have regarding decisions to undertake large science projects? a) The right to be informed? b) The right to be consulted? c) The right to vote? I’m not sure c) has ever happened so let’s look at some examples of a) and b) a) The public was informed that […]

December 15, 2014

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10:40 AM | Literacy Levels
Scientists and science communicators often make the point that the public are scientifically illiterate and that this needs to change. But why? The line goes that as we live in an age of science so everyone should be comfortable reading, writing and talking about science such is its pervasiveness in 21st century society. Robert Hazen argues for the importance of literacy saying, “A scientifically illiterate person is effectively cut off from an immensely enriching part of life, just as […]
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10:26 AM | Countdown to the 2014 Chemistry World science communication competition
Chris Sinclair, whose piece on lasers won the 2012 Chemistry World science communication competition, writes about science and performing arts. In 2012, I won the first Chemistry World science communication competition for my piece about using lasers to remotely detect methane gas in mines, reducing the risk of disastrous explosions. Having previously worked with lasers for [...]
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9:47 AM | “Science It” FB Page merging with Science Centre Corporate FB Page
Three years ago, “Science It” Facebook Page was created as an online platform to explore and address the curiosity in all of us. It was envisioned as the place where like-minded people can share their knowledge and curiosity and, in the process, help each other find answers or develop further interests in different disciplines of… Continue reading »
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5:03 AM | The Sixth Coming: Could We Be Facing Mass Extinction in 100 Years?
As scary as it sounds, the answer is yes—according to a study published in the journal Nature. At the rate that species are becoming extinct, this is the projection of our future. Despite the uncertainty of measuring the number of species of animals, planets and fungi alive on planet Earth—an estimation that ranges between 2 […]

December 14, 2014

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6:51 PM | Problems in search of solutions
Science communication is hard. Really hard. I just wrote an entry for a science communication competition where I had to summarise a biomedical research paper into 800 words of Plain English providing relevant background and making it sound exciting to boot. Turned out to be pretty darn tricky. But that’s not the sort of hard […]
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9:48 AM | Beware the inflated science related press release!
I'm not normally minded to post on a Sunday (day of rest and all that) but I did want to bring your attention to the results presented by Petroc Sumner and colleagues [1] (open-access) concluding that: "Exaggeration in news is strongly associated with exaggeration in press releases" when it comes to the media reporting of [some] health-related science news.The idea behind this particular study - which has been summarised pretty well in some of the accompanying media and in an […]

Sumner, P., Vivian-Griffiths, S., Boivin, J., Williams, A., Venetis, C., Davies, A., Ogden, J., Whelan, L., Hughes, B., Dalton, B. & Boy, F. (2014). The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study, BMJ, 349 (dec09 7) DOI: 10.1136/bmj.g7015

Citation
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4:20 AM | Engineer Summary, December 11th, 2014
Today was our last official FSL session of 2014! We began the session by creating paper circuitry: using copper tape, a battery, and some LEDs. Everyone worked on their own circuits, but the large majority of us all decided to create Christmas cards. They proved to be a little more difficult than we had originally […]

December 13, 2014

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4:15 PM | Funding for French-Language Public Science Education in Québec Dramatically Axed: You Can Help (Maybe)
The scythe of our provincial government has struck again and, this time, the cut is almost perfectly clean. Readers from outside Quebec may not be aware that our provincial government has been issuing major cuts in the past few months. On April 23rd, 2014, Philippe Couillard, head of the Liberal Party, became Prime Minister of … Continue reading →
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3:19 PM | Morsels For The Mind – 12/12/2014
Every day we provide you with Six Incredible Things Before Breakfast to nibble away at. Here you can fill your brain with the most intellectually stimulating “amuse bouches” from the past week – a veritable smorgasbord for the cranium. They’re all here for you to load up your plate – this week’s “Morsels for the mind”. Enjoy! If you do nothing else, make sure to check out the “Reads / views / listens of the week”. **** Feather, fur […]
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3:19 PM | Morsels For The Mind – 12/12/2014
Every day we provide you with Six Incredible Things Before Breakfast to nibble away at. Here you can fill your brain with the most intellectually stimulating “amuse bouches” from the past week – a veritable smorgasbord for the cranium. They’re all here for you to load up your plate – this week’s “Morsels for the mind”. Enjoy! If you do nothing else, make sure to check out the “Reads / views / listens of the week”. **** Feather, fur […]

December 12, 2014

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7:35 PM | Authorship decisions
Deciding who should and should not be on the author line of a science publication is not as simple as it seems. As we know, citations matter, publications matter and there are all sorts of implications for authorship of a science publication. A question about this arose on the Twitts: Question for the Twitterati regarding […]
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7:09 PM | Reasons to love Alan Alda, #2,813
This quote on the wonders of science; “We’re swimming in a sea of science, all the time now. All around us. We carry GPS in our pockets. That wouldn’t have been possible without Einstein’s general relativity. That wouldn’t have been possible without computing power, and all kinds of stuff that science gives us. To walk […]
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4:03 PM | Who’s a Bigger Idiot? Men, Women or Purveyors of Joke Science?
Did you hear the news today? Science has finally proven that men are bigger idiots than women. Men: Hold on and don’t get too defensive just yet. Women: Don’t gloat, or we may turn out to be the idiots here. Because there are a few problems with this news that we should talk about. This … Continue reading →
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11:39 AM | Vox populi – when science and the public engage
Scientists are now being held to greater accountability by a variety of communities (both public and private), and the idea that scientists should be trusted to work in the interest of the public good, by virtue of their profession, is no longer accepted. So we now have a situation where government leaders and policy makers worldwide are finding ways to effectively communicating science and technology issues to the public and to include citizens in science and technology decision-making […]
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11:33 AM | Countdown to the 2014 Chemistry World science communication competition
Quentin Cooper, science journalist and one of the judges for the upcoming Chemistry World science communication competition writes about how in every scientist there is a bit of an artist. I’ve been asked to write 300 words on the topic of science and art. No problem. Although I can sum it up in one: scientists. The term ‘scientist’ was only coined [...]
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11:00 AM | Outreach on the slopes.
One of the beauties of living in Munich is that the Alps are, practically, on your door step. As I mentioned in one of our more recent posts, now that I am here, I’m looking forward to exploring the city, its surroundings and further afield! Making it to the top That is exactly what I did a few weekends ago. After a little research, I chose to visit the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, at the foothills of the Alps. I’d discovered it offered some good hiking and that the town itself […]
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7:17 AM | Lockheed’s Nuclear Fusion Plan
Recently researchers at Lockheed Martin have announced that they are on their way to building a nuclear fusion reactor. Skeptical? Well, experts are too. Fusion power has long been the Holy Grail for nuclear energy researchers around the world. It promises clean, almost limitless renewable energy without any of the by-products of fission reactors. The […]

December 11, 2014

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11:47 PM | A round-up: A new 9-strain HPV vaccine! The effects of debunking vaccine myths! News on phthalates, toys, IUDs, juice and breastfeeding!
I’ve been pretty busy the past several weeks with my HealthDay stories, my Forbes blog and my book, so I’ve neglected this blog more than I planned. However, I’d love to highlight the worthwhile studies and the stories I’ve covered elsewhere, so here’s a quick round-up of the past two weeks of my work in […]
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11:37 AM | Parliament from the inside
Every year scientists and policymakers pair up and shadow each other as part of the Royal Society’s Pairing Scheme. Two MRC researchers have recently completed a ‘Week in Westminster’. Here Dr […]
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11:05 AM | Scientists: your Parliament needs you!
Every year scientists and policymakers pair up and shadow each other as part of the Royal Society’s Pairing Scheme. Two MRC researchers have recently completed a ‘Week in Westminster’. Here Dr […]

December 10, 2014

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1:36 PM | Hyperbole from university press offices
A newly-released study suggests university press releases are a key source of hyperbole seen in science stories in media, concluding that - Exaggeration in news is strongly associated with exaggeration in press releases. Improving the accuracy of academic press releases could represent a key opportunity for reducing misleading health related news. The study is now [...]
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12:05 PM | Connecting Earth scientists and school students – Apply to take part in I’m a Geoscientist!
What and when Imagine a talent show where contestants get voted off depending on their skills in their area of choice. Then imagine that this talent show is populated by scientists with school students voting them off based on the scientist’s ability to communicate their research well. This is the basis of a recent EGU educational initiative that launched earlier in 2014, and that will return in 2015. The EGU are continuing their collaboration with Gallomanor, the UK company in charge of […]
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6:51 AM | Engaging girls in science – a question worth answering
Almost 50 years ago, when she was still a student in school, Dr. Margaret Honey didn’t think of herself as a ‘science kid'; “I remember very clearly saying to my parents ‘I am not good at science and I’m not good at math”. Today, Dr. Honey is the CEO and President of an organization with big ambitions of dramatically changing […]

December 09, 2014

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8:54 PM | The Bat with the Identity Crisis
The Bat with the Identity Crisis or “Will the real Myotis nattereri please stand up?”  By Andrew Harrington. There is a misfortunate bat species that is going through a bit of an identity crisis at the moment. This poor creature is Natterer’s bat, or Myotis nattereri to give it its formal name (named after the distinguished […]
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8:54 PM | The Bat with the Identity Crisis
The Bat with the Identity Crisis or “Will the real Myotis nattereri please stand up?”  By Andrew Harrington. There is a misfortunate bat species that is going through a bit of an identity crisis at the moment. This poor creature is Natterer’s bat, or Myotis nattereri to give it its formal name (named after the distinguished […]
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8:31 PM | How to Look for Squirrels
The Eurasian red squirrel is, in my opinion at least, one of the cutest additions to the Irish countryside. The little ear tufts of the red squirrel help differentiate it from the invasive grey squirrel, the North American competitor of the red squirrel introduced here about 100 years ago. Other features include the size difference, […]
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8:31 PM | How to Look for Squirrels
The Eurasian red squirrel is, in my opinion at least, one of the cutest additions to the Irish countryside. The little ear tufts of the red squirrel help differentiate it from the invasive grey squirrel, the North American competitor of the red squirrel introduced here about 100 years ago. Other features include the size difference, […]
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11:30 AM | Science journalism: the key to strong science literacy
by Pascal Lapointe, Policy & Politics editor Last month, Québecers learned that money talks when it comes to manipulating science information, whether you pay a public relations firm a high enough price, or if you buy advertising. At the same time, however, we’re cutting funding to science journalism. Perhaps these two should be reversed? TransCanada Pipelines contracted the American PR firm, Edelman, to develop a strategic plan aimed at convincing Québecers of the […]
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