5 mins

What is the risk of dying if you catch measles?

If you catch measles, what are your chances of dying? When I was a kid, measles was one of those things you were expected to catch.  I had it when I was five, and must confess, I don’t remember much about the experience.  I do remember being confined to bed.  And I also remember being told ...

3 mins

Five things worth knowing about concussion and contact sports – video

The health impacts of concussions suffered while playing sports have been receiving increased attention in recent years.  According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association,  An estimated 3.8 million concussions occur each year as a result of sport and physical activity in the U.S., with sport-related concussions account for 58% of all emergency department visits in ...

2 mins

Risky tales: Talking with Seth Shostak at Big Picture Science

I had a roller coaster of an interview with Seth Shostak (Director of the Center for SETI Research and host of Big Picture Science) last week on risk and black swan events. I was poised to talk about rare but high impact events like a mega-eruption at Yellowstone National Park, or a major asteroid hit. I ...

5 mins

Building trust between academics and journalists

As an academic, speaking with reporters can be nerve wracking.  The gut-wrench is palpable as you click on the article that follows, unsure of whether the person you spoke with has got it right, or created a train wreck with your name splattered all over it. Building trust Over the years, I’ve learnt to to calibrate ...

11 mins

(Some of the) most engaged research scientists on Twitter

Science Magazine has just released an update of it’s list of Twitter’s most popular researchers – now expanded to “100 of the most followed scientists on the social media platform”.  Having played around with the data, here’s an alternative listing, based on the Engagement Index (E-Index) – a measure I admittedly just made up! (jump ...

1 min

Linking press releases to papers: How do universities compare?

Following up on my previous analysis of university news releases and whether they link to the papers they highlight, I’ve extended extend the analysis to 30 of the top universities in the US as ranked by US News and World Report. Here are the rankings, based on an assessment of the ten latest news releases for each institution, ...

5 mins

How far should universities go in hyping research?

An article passed through my Twitter stream today from Gizmodo shouting out “Change Your Hair Color By Etching Nano-Patterns Into Each Strand”. It pretty much mirrors a press release from the University of New Mexico claiming “New technology allows hair to reflect almost any color”. Carbon-copy reporting is pretty much standard these days in science and technology – and ...

4 mins

Does reading science blogs decrease nanotechnology knowledge?

A recent paper in the journal Science Communication suggests, amongst other things, that reading science blogs leads to a decreased factual understanding of nanotechnology, and that the effect is greater for readers with lower socioeconomic status (SES).  The paper by Su et al. (Leona Yi-Fan Su, Michael A. Cacciatore, Dietram A. Scheufele, Dominique Brossard, Michael A. Xenos (2014) Inequalities in ...

4 mins

Last run for the Mind The Science Gap blog

After nearly two years and four hundred posts, the science communication course at the University of Michigan that feeds the Mind The Science Gap blog is coming to and end.  In between running a department, directing a research center, teaching, and actually doing research, something had to go.  And sadly, Mind The Science Gap was ...

4 mins

Talk to the Hand: Risk Bites, six months on

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