Source: HMC Spring 2010 Bulletin

How often is science distorted in the media?

You know you’re back in college when conversations start, “So, what are you studying?” But when I replied to this question at a recent dinner gathering of fellow grad students, I got an unexpected response.  I explained that I was learning how to communicate science to the general public, but a computer engineer offered this…

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Crowdsourcing Science

Can science be crowdsourced? That is, can scientists turn to the average citizen for help in collecting data? Earlier this week, Genomes Unzipped, a group of genetics-savvy bloggers, announced that its 12 members had made the results of their direct-to-consumer genetic tests freely available online. Members of another group, the Personal Genomes Project , have…

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Slugs Lede 3-1

After class on on Tuesday, I had an epiphany. We had each submitted a delayed lede for a story covering Terry Hazen’s talk about bioremediation in the Gulf of Mexico. In class, Ken projected them all on the board, and critiques them one by one. I has struggled with my lede for a simple reason:…

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A writing robot. Lacks personality. Credit: Mirko Tobias Schaefer, http://www.flickr.com/photos/gastev/2174504149/

From ‘science-robot’ to science writing cyborg

Whenever I have to write about science in detail, or explain a concept, I find that I default to ‘science-robot’ mode. I write in very dry, technical terms, just getting all the facts in there. And I end up with something that, while technically correct and factually accurate, no one could possibly read without his…

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tales of a twitterpated writer

The Story By William Blake-Drake Story! Story! yet to write In the newsrooms of the night, What nocturnal journalist Could frame thy lede and nutgraf/gist? In what distant source or two Burn the quotes I need for you? On what site dare facts reside? What the Google, at my side? And what structure, and what…

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Farmville in PNAS

Look out, Interwebs. The SciCom slugs are coming to a social network near you. By the end of the quarter, we have to commit an act of journalism using social media. My limited attempts to build an online community were not too successful, so I’m dubious about this project. Will our creations spread through our…

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Not Enough Time

Working at a daily newspaper is quite a roller coaster of emotions. Panic, excitement, panic, wonder, panic, the satisfaction of completing a story…Learning to function and think while on this ride is no easy task. And sometimes it’s frustrating not to be able to do justice to a topic when you know there are so…

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Bacteria: the real stars of the show

For those interested (from textbookofbacteriology.net) MAJOR NUTRITIONAL TYPES OF PROKARYOTES   Nutritional Type Energy Source Carbon Source Examples Photoautotrophs Light CO2 Cyanobacteria, some Purple and Green Bacteria Photoheterotrophs Light Organic compounds Some Purple and Green Bacteria Chemoautotrophs or Lithotrophs (Lithoautotrophs) Inorganic compounds, e.g. H2, NH3, NO2, H2S CO2 A few Bacteria and many Archaea Chemoheterotrophs…

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Concision

I thought I wrote concisely, but Zinsser is a master. Chapter 3 of “On Writing Well” is about trimming words that aren’t doing any work. Zinsser says: “If you might add, add it. If it should be pointed out, point it out. If it is interesting to note, make it interesting…” Words to live by,…

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