This weekly Nautilus column highlights some of the online discussion at Nature Network in the preceding week that is of relevance to scientists as authors and communicators. Readers are welcome to join any of these discussions by visiting the links provided. The Nature Network week column is archived here.
Language evolves quickly, but some novel words may never appear in a scientific manuscript. Craig Rowell has a “rant about a recent set of buzzwords that some like to throw-around like so many tomatoes at the Valencia Tomato Festival. They are off-line and bandwidth. As in, “let’s talk about this off-line” -used during a meeting when a topic that is not relevant to the topic of the meeting is beginning to take up too much time (formally known as – let’s talk about this later). Bandwidth refers to someones availability to do work with respect to time – “does Craig have the bandwidth to finish his part of the project as well as a new meaningless task or does he need help?” Let me be clear . . . I AM NOT A COMPUTER!” At the end of his post, Craig adds a helpful note: “35,000 foot view and granular are real buzzwords, Hubble-view and Nano-perspective as well as Nano-mangement© (not listed) are not (yet). :)”.
Turning from extreme words to extreme mammals – Caryn Shechtman posts about an exhibition with that title (extreme mammals, that is, not words!) that has just opened at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, featuring animals that “depart significantly from the normal, average, or ancestral condition.” Divided into nine sections, the exhibit examines extant and extinct mammals that have unusual body features and those that exist in geographical isolation or extreme climates by featuring fossils, reconstructions, computer interactives and hands-on activities. More details at Caryn’s post.
Nature Networkers have been weighing in this week on the topic of freedom of (scientific) speech, in light of a recent case in which a science writer is being sued personally for remarks he made in a newspaper article. One aspect of this case relvant to the scientists and science communicators who use Nature Network is how informed they are about the potential legal risks of what they might write, whether informally online or in a publication. You are welcome to join this discussion, in the Nature Opinion forum.
I was interested reading the discussion arising from a stimulating post by David Basanta, who attended a talk that asks a provocative question: “why don’t tumours grow in muscles?” The ensuing online discussion is a great example of the educative potential of scientific blogging and demonstrates the interest of looking at a question from interdisciplinary perspectives. Such a discussion, of course, requires people with the right expertise who are prepared to share it. Rather unlike Noah Gray’s illustrated post on “the science news cycle” which, if nothing else, might raise a smile.
Further science-related blog reading and online discussion can be enjoyed at: