Some of the best writing about science can be found in the blogosphere, where scientists, science communicators and science enthusiasts share their discoveries, their curiosity and their passion for science. Top science magazines, from Discover and Scientific American to National Geographic, host entire virtual salons of smart, skillful science bloggers (see links to the right). Some of them are working scientists; all of them are top-notch science communicators. Here’s a sampling of some outstanding science blogging:

  • The Loom, part of National Geographic’s online “science salon,” by Carl Zimmer, an award-winning science writer whose work has appeared in NatGeo,  The New York Times, and Discover. Expect anything from creepy-but-cool insights into parasitology to detailed examinations of the chemistry of life on earth, with occasional side trips into science-related tattoos.
  • Not Exactly Rocket Science, another NatGeo salon blog, by Ed Yong,  an award-winning British science writer whose credits include Nature, the BBC, New Scientist, Wired, the Guardian, the Times of London, and more. Among other things, he’s written an excellent guide for scientists talking to journalists.
  • Bad Astronomy, by Phil Plait, a writer-astronomer who spent a decade working on the Hubble Space Telescope project. Plait’s blog has bounced from home to home and is currently hosted by Slate; he’s the go-to-guy for explanations of why asteroids (probably) won’t hit the earth, among other interesting celestial phenomena.
  • Cocktail Party Physics on the Scientific American blogging network, written by Jennifer Ouellette, who describes herself as “a science writer who loves to indulge her inner geek by finding quirky connections between physics, popular culture, and the world at large.”
  • Pharyngula, by University of Minnesota biologist P.Z. Myers, is part of the ScienceBlogs network. Cranky, opinionated and absolutely wild about cephalopods, Myers is one of the “elders” of the science blogging movement.
  • StarTalk Radio is a podcast hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the rockstar of astrophysicists and director of the Hayden Planetarium, who describes his target audience as “All the people who never knew how much they’d love learning about space and science.”
  • The Culture of Science, by Sheril Kirshenbaum,  a research scientist at the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy who describes herself and her blogging as residing “in the space between science, policy, and culture.” Kirshenbaum’s books include Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future and The Science of Kissing.

What science blogs are you reading? Feel free to suggest more in the comments! And if you aren’t reading any, why not?

May
10

Scientist at Work is a New York Times group blog, showcasing the writing of scientists from many disciplines. The Times  calls it “… the modern version of a field journal, a place for reports on the daily progress of scientific expeditions — adventures, misadventures, discoveries.”

Reports range from the lyrical writing of Mary E. Blair, a postdoc at the American Musem of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, as she strives to understand the life history and genetic diversity of the slow loris, to Jeff Opperman, a senior freshwater scientist with the Nature Conservancy, describing his once-in-a-lifetime trip down Southeast Asia’s Mekong River with his wife and two children, ages 8 and 10.

Well worth reading and following if you’re looking for examples of how scientists can use blog to lend their personal voices to the work they do, and to express the sense of gee-whiz wonder that can come with the practice of science.

Check the latest episode of the Geek Whisperers podcast for an interview with Rakesh Bharania, who works as part of the Cisco Tactical Operations team. The team’s main job in emergencies is to help get large-scale communication and network systems back online when natural or man-made disaster strikes – but they also use a well-developed, coordinated social media strategy to help disseminate crisis information, rumor control and emergency coordination.

http://geek-whisperers.com/2013/05/episode-9-social-media-during-crisis-we-are-mall-cops/

How might organizations such as Sea Grant, which have people on or close to the scene of coastal disasters & emergencies, develop our own strategies for using social media and similar tools to broaden our effectiveness in times of crisis?