Of Schemes and Memes Blog

Best of Nature Network, NPG staff blogs and Scitable: 20 – 24 December

A festive themed best of this week as we review some of the seasonal goodies from the Nature Network blogs, NPG staff blogs and Scitable.

The Science of Santa

In the build up to Christmas, GrrlScientist has been asking:

How does Santa visit billions of homes all around the globe in just one night? Is this just a load of hogwash that your parents tell you so you’ll eat your overcooked vegetables and go to bed early without making a fuss?”

She reveals that the answers can all be found in this informative video, describing the science behind Santa:

Continue to her blog to also watch a video about The science of Christmas trees!

Oh, Christmas Trees.

Continuing with thoughts of Christmas trees, Bob O’Hara shares details of The Shetland Library’s festive fir, which they revealed to their followers on Twitter and Facebook.

Anyone for a game of Boxing Day “book Jenga”? 😉

Snowy Owl

In a Christmassy inspired post, The Frontier Scientists are discussing the snowy owl and how people react to the beautiful bird:

Find out more about the owl and where it can be found in their post.


Hopefully you have already been enjoying our sciency advent calendar quiz but if not, it’s not too late to catch up! To celebrate our love of both science and music we’ve created an online #YuleTubeCalendar.

Check back each day in the approach to Christmas to reveal a new YouTube video which relates to a science story from 2011. Can you guess which story we’re referring to? Leave your answers in the comments, or join the online conversations by tweeting; the hashtag is #yuleTubeCalendar. Finally, we have also created some simple instructions if you would like to join the fun by creating your own calendar to share. You can add videos, images or even link to other blog posts to create your own round-up of 2011.

Dear Santa

What are you asking Santa for this year? Blogger Tom Webb pleads, Please Santa, no more ugly slideshows. He has had enough and hopes that his top tips on how to hold a successful presentation will prevent future boredom:

The objections of the venerable Edward R. Tufte notwithstanding, slideshow presentations have become an essential part of science. I sit through a great number of science talks over the course of any given year. And probably 90% of them are awful. Not in terms of content, necessarily, or delivery; but in terms of ugly, overladen, whatever-the-visual-equivalent-of-tone-deaf-is slides. It doesn’t have to be that way. And frankly, I’ve had enough. So here are some golden rules for slideshow presentations, purely in terms of graphical design (i.e. how to illustrate a good talk, rather than how to give a good talk). Be warned. This is an opinionated rant that has been a long time gestating. But it is also 100% true.

Continue reading the post for his tips.

Science’s breakthroughs of the year

Nature’s news blog have compiled a “best of 2011” list setting out their top 10 breakthroughs of the year:

2011 has been the year of the exoplanet – one of our 10 newsmakers of the year is Sara Seager, a member of the Kepler space telescope science team that has identified more than 2,000 candidate exoplanets, as well as two Earth-like worlds. But some of the planets and solar systems found have been causing headaches for the theorists who try to explain how planets form.

Don’t miss their end-of-year special, featuring the newsmakers of the year and 2011′s best science photos.

An Xmas present from Nature!

Still looking for a Christmas present for that special scientist or science geek in your life? Subscriptions to Nature are half price over the holiday period. 😉 (US$100 or £68) Enjoy!

DIY Petri dish ornaments

Finally, Viktor Poor is advising you scientists to make your own Christmas tree decorations this year:


Merry Christmas everyone!









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