Science communication

Wikipedia, says Thomas Goetz at Wired Science, isn’t as clear as it might be when it comes to scientific definitions. The example given, "epigenetics" is a good one — the "backgrounder" [sic] from Johns Hopkins is much clearer. Perhaps those people who write public information for sites such as the NIH (National Institutes of Health) and universities might hop on over to help Wikipedia to become more digestible. The entries are probably written by specialists, who can usually do with a bit of communication help when it comes to readers outside the discipline.

For a bit of in-person science education, there is a fascinating new exhibition at London’s Science Museum: Penicillin.  Matt Brown’s post on Nature Network ably summarises the Penicillin story and the challenges of telling it in a visually attractive way. The exhibition is on until September.

Another of Matt’s excellent posts is here: "ever considered being a science journalist?"     Poor pay, virtually impossible to break into, but  the "satisfaction of reaching large audiences, interrogating Nobel laureates, the intellectual thrill of tackling Mars rovers one day and genetic breakthroughs the next – there’s nothing quite like the buzz of the fast-paced news world."

Female Science Professor isn’t sure how to take being called a "poster child" for women in the scientific profession. I think I’d have the same trouble if someone tried to give me this moniker. "Poster child" seems to me to be a rather patronising phrase, whatever the context.

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The Onion in pink

Via Female Science Professor, I discovered that the Onion’s current issue is a Women special (Home | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source). We’ve had mother’s day in the UK already, but in the USA the day rolls round on Sunday, apparently – cue lots of mother-appreciation posts on blogs, if last year was anything to go by.

The Onion, naturally, has a different take. I agree with FSP that "Betty Friedan honored with second-class postage stamp" is a good one. I also like the Cosmpolitan 40-year compendium "812,683 ways to please your man". Other delights are the popular new Gap clothing line hand-sewn by children overseas; some person-in-the-street (Onion regulars) reactions to news of the first woman chancellor of Germany; and  "nanny appears in child’s drawings more than mother". As usual with the Onion, though, I find the headlines funnier than the articles they describe. A good one-liner can make you laugh about the fatuousness of an aspect modern life, whereas a full article on the same topic hammers the point home too much.