What’s with the Sugar Story?

I remember “Nana,” my maternal grandpa, who lived up to 85 years of age, who had four teaspoons of sugar in his cup of tea. He would love sweets and would hog them whenever my granny made them during festivals. In India, we celebrate every festival with fanfare and we have too many of them!…

Science Communication should wear its Heart more on its Sleeve

Recently, I was a co-author of a paper published in the journal Environmental Communication examining the differences and similarities between science communication and environmental communication. The paper covers many aspects, from the historical development of each field of study to overlaps in scope and differences in focus. However, there was one point that emerged from…

Citizen Science is not all it is cracked up to be

William Shakespeare wrote the play As You Like It over 400 years ago. It contains a famous monologue, often referred to as the Seven Ages of Man – although, if Bill were writing it today, it should no doubt be called the Seven Ages of Humans. It begins, “All the world’s a stage, and all…

Storytelling: the importance of truth and a good ending

Last night I watched a film called The Factory, which was released on DVD in 2013, fully five years after the completion of filming and following a very limited theatrical release in late 2012. The film fits squarely into the crime-thriller genre and supposedly is “based on actual events.” Without giving too much away, it…

The Public Communication of Science and Technology

The premiere conference for science communicators is the biennial PCST Conference, which this year was held in Dunedin, New Zealand, from 3 – 6 April. The initials PCST stand for “Public Communication of Science and Technology.” Ironically, however, the public is typically excluded from the PCST Conference events, which are aimed at researchers and practitioners…

Is Writing Becoming an Irrelevant form of Communication?

It takes a lot of confidence to call yourself a writer. I had published several books and won a handful of awards before I dared to put my occupation down as “writer” on any form. It was a seminal moment in my life, one that I remember well: the first time I let myself believe…

Come to Middle Earth for PCST 2018

For my sins, I am the Chair of the Local Organising Committee for the PCST (Public Communication of Science and Technology) Conference, 2018. This is the largest and most significant international meeting of science communicators and it occurs every two years. From 3 – 6 April, it shall be held in New Zealand for the…

Let’s Communicate Science with Football

Today I watched the magnificent Tom Brady lead the Patriots to a win in the American Football Conference Finals over the Jaguars and gain yet another berth in a Super Bowl. It was a remarkable game that the Jaguars could easily have won – probably should have won – were it not for the Tom…

Narrative and Video: untapped possibilities for science communication

The way we communicate or, rather, consume media has changed drastically in just the last few years. Online video on-demand is where things are at. However, even though consumption rates are through the roof, the amount of video available online is daunting. As is often the case for science communicators, it becomes a question of…

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon: natural wonder of the world. I’ve been there a few times now and the sight of it never fails to stop me. Stop me dead in my tracks, overcome by its immeasurable size and layered, many-coloured, beauty. It seems to me that I even stop breathing because there is simply no breath…

Time to Stand Up

Where to start? I’m 63. I have a title: the Stuart Professor of Science Communication. But what does it all mean? I started my professional life as a scientist, as wedded to the notion of a testable hypothesis as any human can be. Earlier, as a boy, I had been drawn to science by some…