Category: Science

Review | The Accidental Scientist – Graeme Donald

Review | The Accidental Scientist – Graeme Donald

I picked up a copy of The Accidental Scientist thanks to its title- one of my favourite scientific topics is how luck has influenced science and medicine, so this book seemed like a good idea.

The Accidental Scientist is a short and fast read which covers the story of various inventions such as Botox, explosives, and telephones. Each 8-12 page chapter starts with one invention as a theme. From this point, single-page subsections handle each link in a chain of discoveries. This book is concise by necessity, as it aims to pack a large collection of trivia in tightly limited space.

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Review | The Tale of the Duelling Neurosurgeons- Sam Kean

Review | The Tale of the Duelling Neurosurgeons- Sam Kean

I’m revisiting my pop-science book collection, partly to get back into a habit of reading and partly to look at the range of styles available in popular science writing. First on my list is Sam Kean’s The Tale of the Duelling Neurosurgeons.

Duelling Neurosurgeons initally surprised me by not opening with duels or with neurosurgery. Instead, it dives into the world of sleep paralysis, an experience often compared to possession or even alien abduction.

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A Sci-Comm Renaissance?

A Sci-Comm Renaissance?

News from the last three weeks has been bad, to say the least. Both Britain and America have seemingly been bent on destruction and bridge-burning. Yet despite being anxious about just what will happen next, I’m also a little bit curious as well.

One of the few good parts about the previous three weeks is how people have often responded to protect and support others. Social networks have shared resources for contacting politicians, lawyers and advocates, and advice on how best to do so. Widespread protests and calls for mobilisation have made some meaningful changes, called attention to the wrongs which would have remained away from the spotlights, and delayed political decisions. People aren’t taking the changes as quietly as either Trump and co. or May and co. had wanted. And I hope this atmosphere of fighting back will continue, and lead to bigger changes.

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Fun Science and Science Communication

Fun Science and Science Communication

I’ve finally got around to reading Fun Science by Charlie McDonnell, and after reading it I have quite a lot of thoughts about both the book itself and its potential value for science communication, so here they are:

Firstly, some context for people who haven’t heard of Charlie McDonnell. He’s a filmmaker/musician/ vlogger/presenter- and now an author too. Last month he released Fun Science (the book), inspired by his 2011 YouTube series of the same name. Fun Science (the show) has also returned, featuring another look at topics included in the book. (A playlist of all of the YouTube episodes is below).

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Science Communication on YouTube, Part 3

Science Communication on YouTube, Part 3

A few weeks ago, I said about getting to explore scicomm on youtube in a uni assignment. Now that I’ve got it finished, marked, and out of the way, here’s the story.


The assignment was a content analysis- which means an attempt to interpret media such as writing, speech or video into quantifiable data to analyse it.I decided to try using YouTube videos as my medium, rather than newspapers, and my topic was how YouTube creators represented psychology in videos. Thanks to undergrad, and previous videos I’d seen, I had some ideas of what to expect, so those ideas were the start of my research questions. Also, there’s so little research yet in this kind of area that I could end up finding anything- that unexpectedness made this topic appealing.

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Science Communication on YouTube, Part #2

Science Communication on YouTube, Part #2

This post follow part 1, where I looked at the type of videos and channels appearing on YouTube searches for science communication. 

While there’s a lot of science content on YouTube, and relatively strong content communicating science, there isn’t much about science communication itself. There are videos for non-scientists about science, but not about scicomm. A Crash Course or RiskBites equivalent for science communication doesn’t exist.

The obvious question is; should that content exist? To me, the answer can only be yes.
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Agenda-setting theory and the autism-vaccine controversy.

This article is focusing on the legacy of the controversy, so for the full facts on what actually happened in Andrew Wakefield’s experiment, have a look in text-form here, or comic-form here.

Of all the pesudoscience in all the world, why did this case stay? What about this story has let it live as many people’s truth for almost 20 years, when finding out the facts of what happened takes nothing more than one online search?

There’s a few possible answers; celebrity backing, scientists not knowing how to effectively dispel inaccuracies, or just hearing the same message so many times that it gains the appearance of truth. All of these have some merit, and all are involved.

But there are two other ideas I want to throw into the pile as well, the first being;

What if psychological biases influence us away from fully rejecting Wakefield’s story, despite the facts?

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Science Communication on Youtube, Part #1: A Missed Opportunity?

While looking up different viewpoints for my last post on the definition of science communication, I noticed something unexpected;

I’m interested in science communication, and love to learn more about it.
I also spend a lot of time on YouTube, including on educational channels.
However, I’ve never used YouTube for finding out about scicomm specifically.

I didn’t know if it was just something I had overlooked, or if there was a reason for this. So I decided to investigate where YouTube stands on scicomm- whether its popular with science communicators, and whether science communication videos and channels are popular with Youtube users.


My first tactic was to go with the obvious; to search for “science communication” on YouTube and see what kind of channels and videos come up. As this is a likely approach for someone who has just heard the term “science communication” and wants to explore it, this seemed a sensible place to start.

I looked at the 5 most relevant channels and videos according to YouTube’s search algorithm, then the 5 highest viewed channels and videos. The results can also be found in infographic form here, and each of the images is a clickable link to the video/channel.


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