To catch a cliché, you need to become a cliché

So here it is; the last post of 2013 (and the first in 6 months). A while back I put up an update post where I spoke about all the things I wanted to achieve with my time. The main motivation behind this was to set myself up for public shaming if I didn’t achieve what I had set out to do. It wasn’t a new year’s resolution or any of that sort of thing, but It did lay out some aims and I think it was pretty useful. So here it is again, if it were a movie it would be called – Update 2.0: Try Harder, With Avengeance!.. but it’s not, so I had to come up with some other pithy and utterly pointless title.

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Standing on the edge of a new beginning (Credits: Anthony Quintano)

I achieved a lot this year (finally finishing my PhD was chief amongst them), and I want to continue that (who doesn’t?). This year I have a few main aims, and here they are (the professional ones at least) laid bare and unplanned for your acerbic and pessimistic or supportive comments:

  • Start the series known to my friends as “Craig’s Questions”. A lot of my non-science friends have very curious minds and I am fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of many of their questions, often I know the answer (being old has its perks, I guess) but every so often, they ask an absolute blinder! The first in this series uses chemistry and is simply the question “Are there more atoms in one grain of sand than there are grains of sand on the Earth?” Great question, answer to follow early in 2014 (was a joy to explain face to face, no idea how I’ll make it work in writing though)
  • Next on my list is to start a YouTube channel (or any other medium that people might suggest) where I might be able to share content on science and some generally interesting facts. I will have to find an interesting and inventive way to fund this activity and I’ll put my mind to work in the New Year.
  • Finally, and this is the hardest one to achieve, I’d like to drop out of this little lull I find myself in, in terms of employment, and find myself in some professional science-based full time employment (as opposed to the bill paying non-science work I currently find myself in). I’ll keep you updated on this the moment I have anything to share.

So there we have it, my three professional aims and goals, which are not New Year’s resolutions, laid forth before you (coincidentally) on New Year’s Eve. Hope you have a great end to 2013 and I hope that you join me on what I hope is going to be an interesting 2014.

All the best,

Craig – The ScienceYourFaceIn guy.

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Generic mp3 player-casts…

A while back I stated here that I really wanted to do more podcasting (amongst other things) and that if I wasn’t showing any sign of doing it that I would gladly open myself up to all forms of criticism. Essentially I was trying to set up external pressure to get things done. Wouldn’t you know, it’s kind of worked. After sharing this newly invented pressure with people at The GIST (currently my only opportunity to podcast) progress has been made. As a result, episode 3 of The GIST’s podcast is now up. keep an eye on the account or visit the homepage for regular updates. You may also be happy to know that episode 4 has already been recorded and is in the process of being edited. (Huge thanks are due to Alan Boyd. Not only does he take part in and edit these podcasts but he brings together a group of people that make it fun to sit down in a room and talk)

Amongst other things, we asked “what would happen if you set the speed of light in a vacuum to 1 metre per second?” Want to know our best guess? Listen and see.

WARNING: Contains moments of strong language and is probably not suitable for children.

WARNING: Contains serious amounts of Geek-chat and is probably not suitable for anyone who has ever performed a “swirly” or unironically  thought “science, pfff, what do I care?”

WARNING: Contains moments where imagination warps physical constants and “back of an envelope maths” is still relevant.

Life (mostly The GIST) is taking over…

WARNING: This blog post has had no real editing process and may be a litte…”rambly”(if that’s even a word).

Alright, another update post. I guess this could be a little irritating if you’re watching my blog in the hope of some solid science and sci comm and all you’re getting is updates and such. However, this is more of an inside scoop coupled with an update. As you may know, I write articles for The GIST (I do other stuff there too but that’s irrelevant at this point in time) and if you keep an eye on the website (which I suggest you do) you’ll know that we’re putting together another printed magazine. If you read the magazine you’ll know that my mate and I wrote the opinion piece that’s (strategically hidden away) at the back. However you might not know that every article that makes it into our magazine (from this point forth) gets selected by a democratic process. As with any opinion piece, the one Scott and I put together last time (clicky) served to draw out people of the opposite view-point (a minority of course). In this blog piece I’m going to put it out there that I think this next article is going to be no different. Chances are that it’s going to be slightly more effective at drawing criticism from people of the opposite view. “why?” I hear you ask. Well it’s due to the subject of the article: homeopathy. I took part in the voting process for the articles in this next issue and whilst there seemed to be a good amount of support for the piece (a lot actually), it did draw some criticism…and that’s from scientists and people within The GIST – what’s it going to be like from the general public?

Opinion pieces about homeopathy are…well…clichéd. Scott and I had a good wee chat about this over a pint and we decided that we had to try to really hard to avoid this, and to shamelessly self-promote, I think we achieved that goal. (For those of you who don’t know me personally I write my opinion pieces with an old uni mate of mine. Whilst I like to think I am the ideas guy and focus upon the ethics or the science or the general thread of the argument, Scott is the guy that – largely – sets the tone and makes the whole article fun to read. He’s a genuinely witty man in real life and I think it comes across in what we write.) Nevertheless, I do think that when people hold certain opinions, they find it incredibly difficult to accept the opposite argument: it’s just human nature I suppose. Anyway, I’m getting side-tracked.

I’m writing this little update to let you know that blog posts over the next three weeks are going to be scarce! Here’s what I’m doing with my time (because I said previously that I’d use this as a public forum to “light a fire under my ass” if I wasn’t focusing on my career):

  • Reading a book (called Magenta Opium) for an upcoming book review
  • Editing the opinion piece with one of the specialist editors at The GIST
  • Overseeing the entire editing process and coordinating the articles once they’ve gone through the specialist stage
  • Arranging the “readability” edits (2 weeks away)
  • Of course, putting the final touches to my PhD thesis (pretty scarily important that one)

So have some patience with me please. I’m unusually busy at the moment. That being said, this is a good time for me to be writing down ideas for my next article/blog post. I find it really easy to think of things to talk about when I have no intention of doing them in the immediate future (suggestions welcome though). I’m thinking the next one will be a good science-based, chemistry-centric (hopefully) educational read…time will tell.

Update

OK, so I’ve not really used this blog to its fullest potential…Or really much at all. However, that’s because over the last two years I’ve had one thing on my mind: Thesis. I’ve been trying to finish my PhD and as soon as it’s done and out of the way (hopefully with a positive outcome) I’ll focus much more on the science communication aspect of what I do. I’d like to set out here the things that I want to achieve so that there’s a record of how I should be spending my time! So if in another year I’ve got a grand total of four posts on this blog, those of you who know me, can kick my ass.
First, a little background. I originally got into sci comm (science communication to the uninitiated) to do podcasting. I don’t really rate my writing skills (even though I’ve spent the last two years almost exclusively writing) but I figured that I could get my point across by chatting with people. This leads me nicely onto what I want to do. Either through this blog, The GIST or what ever media outlet will let me abuse their resources I would like to do the following (and do it properly);

  • Do some regular podcasting
  • write, film and edit a short documentary
  • Begin to focus my style as a communicator – I’m thinking that humour is something that few people bring to professional sci comm just now
  • Find something genuinely chemistry-based to talk about, be it fundamentals or cutting-edge

This isn’t a manifesto or anything of that ilk, I just want to light a fire under my ass and hopefully construct some external pressure to force me into achieving some or all of the things I’ve set out to do. That’s why I’ve gone on to use twitter and other social media things, that’s why I came back to this blog and it’s why I’m writing this. Hopefully I can make this count.

 

Anyway, keep your eyes peeled and your ears to the ground and above all else, science your face in!

 

Craig – the science your face in guy!

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