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More on using appropriate scientific terminology: “Super moon”

June 24, 2013   Filed under Blog, Featured, Potpourri, Writing  

I’ve talked about the importance of choosing appropriate words when you need to introduce new scientific terminology here and here and (loosely) here. With the full moon in its orbit being closer to the Earth than normal, the media has been fixated on the “super moon” being 14% larger and 30% brighter than it normally […]

The “secret of success in mathematics: Plagiarize!”

June 21, 2013   Filed under Blog, Featured, Humor, Potpourri, Writing  

The lyrics from For many years now, Mr. Danny Kaye, who has been my particular idol since childbirth, has been doing a routine about the great Russian director Stanislavsky and the secret of success in the acting profession. And I thought it would be interesting to stea… to adapt this idea to the field […]

Eloquent Science: Chapter 11 Figures

June 21, 2013   Filed under Blog, Excerpts, Featured, Potpourri, Resources, Writing  

I received a request from a professor who uses Eloquent Science in the classroom. He wanted the figures from Chapter 11: Figures and Tables, so that he could adapt them into his own presentations. In response to that request, here they are, in a single PowerPoint file: Eloquent Science: Figures from Chapter 11

Junk the Jargon Interview on Public Engagement

June 14, 2013   Filed under Blog, Featured, Potpourri, Presentations, Uncategorized  

An oldie, but goodie. Here is an interview (Junkcast) I did for the University of Manchester Junk the Jargon competition. I talk about my own experiences good and bad with public engagement, tips for connecting with the audience, and the origins of Eloquent Science.

Would it surprise you that the thesaurus was written by an obsessive person?

June 12, 2013   Filed under Blog, Featured, Potpourri, Writing  

Peter Roget, who wrote Roget’s Thesaurus, came from a family of mental instability: “His grandmother was mentally unstable, his mother was nearly psychotic and his sister and daughter had suffered severe mental breakdowns (, 2012)” But, he loved to make lists. After 12 years of making lists of all words and their relationship to each […]

New: Eloquent Science Twitter now active

May 29, 2013   Filed under Blog, Featured, News, Potpourri  

Stop by and see what is going on at

Book Review: Navigating Graduate School and Beyond

August 2, 2012   Filed under Blog, Featured, Potpourri, Resources  

I just finished reading a great new book on career guidance for graduate students by Prof. Sundar Christopher: Navigating Graduate School and Beyond: A Career Guide for Graduate Students and a Must Read for Every Advisor. Written by the Chair of the Department of Atmospheric Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, this book […]

Code of Conduct for Scientists Who Engage in Advocacy

July 1, 2012   Filed under Blog, Featured, Potpourri  

The AAAS hosted a workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation to address the issue of scientists expressing their opinions to influence an action, such as a political process. The results of this workshop can be downloaded from this web page. The bottom line is the Code of Conduct for Advocacy in Science by Nicholas […]

How much time do the academics spend reading the literature?

June 10, 2012   Filed under Blog, Featured, Potpourri  

JISC Collections funded a study to examine the values of libraries to UK academics. The result “UK Scholarly Reading and the Value of Library Resources: Summary Results of the Study Conducted Spring 2011″ has been published. Here is a link to the PDF. From p. 8, “Of the 448 hours per year spent on scholarly […]

Potential Temperature: Warm and Cold?

June 14, 2011   Filed under Blog, Potpourri, Uncategorized, Writing  

Does it make sense to talk about air with high values of potential temperature or equivalent potential temperature as warm or cold? I don’t think so, so I recommend talking about “air with higher or lower potential temperature” instead. Although it is wordier than warm or cold, the meaning is precise.

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