In my line of work you end up reading a lot of scientific papers. Most of them are dry and horribly worded. A colleague pointed out this great story about scientific writing – How to Write Like a Scientist.
In case you’re not aware, each scientific paper has a list of authors – the people that worked on the research. The order of the names is quiet important. Typically, the lead researcher is last, but sometimes they are the lead author. Occasionally a PhD student is given lead author position to help them get exposure.
It’s all a bit confusing at time. So here is a simple deciphering tool from the above article to help you understand.
FIRST AUTHOR: Weary graduate student who spent hours doing the work.
SECOND AUTHOR: Resentful graduate student who thinks he or she spent hours doing the work.
THIRD AUTHOR: Undergraduate just happy to be named.
FOURTH AUTHOR: Collaborator no one has ever met whose name is only included for political reasons.
FIFTH AUTHOR: Postdoctoral fellow who once made a chance remark on the subject.
SIXTH AUTHOR: For some reason, Vladimir Putin.
LAST AUTHOR: Principal investigator whose grant funded the project but who hasn’t stood at a lab bench in decades, except for that one weird photo shoot for some kind of pamphlet, and even then it was obvious that he or she didn’t know where to find basic things.
You know we’re back into the swing of things when you start doing your regular science chats around the country. As per last year I’ll be chatting to ABC Mid North Coast (Port Macquarie) each Wednesday at 10:10 am (new time), ABC Western Plains (Dubbo) each Wednesday fortnight at 10:35 am, and ABC Central West (Orange) each Tuesday fortnight at 9:35 am. I’m also adding ABC Western Victoria (Bendigo) to my roll call – alternative Wednesday at 10:35 am.
Last week I had my first spot with Angela Owens at ABC Central West. We talked about tiny hard drives and how increased levels of carbon dioxide affects brain activity in fish.
I was preparing yesterday for my spot on Radio National Summer Breakfast with Waleed Aly and I came across this wonderful bit of research from Imperial College, London – Go to work on a Christmas card. The study claimed that if every UK resident handed in their cards and wrapping paper the country could produce enough bioethanol to fuel a double decker bus (very British) to the Moon and back 20 times over. Impressive stuff.
That got me thinking about the old Cards for Ark program that was run by Planet Ark several years ago. It encouraged Australians to recycle their Christmas cards by placing them in special bins at shopping centres. I discovered that it was wound up in 2007 due to everyone (well at least 90%) having curbside recycling.
It still didn’t stop me thinking about how much bioethanol Australia could produce if we all handed in our Christmas cards and used wrapping paper. Time for some ‘back of the envelop’ maths. Continue reading →
The weather was against me, the batteries on my preferred camera were dead (with the charger 900 km away) and I’d had little sleep the night before. That wasn’t going to stop me. I’m glad I persevered as the shots I got weren’t too bad.
The clouds came in around 11:30 pm and covered the Moon for most of the partial phases. Then at 12:45 am, a small section of the sky appeared and what was sitting in the middle? An eclipsed Moon. Thank you Mother Nature.
Every Wednesday morning (around 9:40 am AEST) I chat with the wonderful Katya Quigley from ABC Mid North Coast NSW (Port Macquaire).
I love chatting to Katya as she always asks what I’m up to and what I think about topics that they’ve been discussing earlier on air.
Recently, Katya and Beth (wonderful producer) have started posting our conversations online. Here is the first one where we talk about a a development in the treatment of snake bites and explore the link between volcanoes and atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide.
Recently I was asked to write another piece for The Drum – the ABC’s online analysis and opinion website. This time the topic was climate change.
So here’s the first few pars. The rest you can read by clicking on the link below.
Heat rises in the search for temperature data truth
When it comes to climate change either you’re with us, or you’re on the other side. Well at least that’s how it appears at times. So what happens when someone from one camp says something that appears to support the other?
In the last few days, pro- and anti-climate change blogs have gone into overdrive over comments made at a US Congressional hearing into climate science.
To understand what it’s all about, you need to go back to November 2009. One of the biggest science stories that month was the ‘leaking’ of emails from the Hadley Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, including the unit’s head Professor Phil Jones.
Occasionally I get a call from ABC News 24 – our 24 hour television news channel. I’m ‘on call’ to talk about science, but most of it seems to be about space and astronomy. Here’s one of my most recent chats.
P.S. I enjoy really doing this and hope I get a call more often.
Recently I received a call from ABC North Tasmania asking if I would chat about ‘sense of direction’. A quick search of our news archives revealed we had at least three interesting stories. So I agreed to speak with the breakfast presenter Penny Terry at 6:20 am (what I do for science).