Category Archives: Announcements

It’s been a while…

At lot can happen in 10 months! Long story short, I was up to my eyes in finishing the PhD, and blogging just kept getting shoved on the backburner. But! I finally finished and defended! This is a great relief and I’ve been slowly returning to world since I got the final revisions in.

In the ensuing few months, I did publish a few things at Science Borealis, and a piece at Hakai Magazine!

  • The Climate Anxiety Doctor is In: I interviewed a poet and professor about her climate counselling project, where she sets up a booth in a park in Providence, RI and talks with people about what worry about in a changing climate.
  • An obituary for Ursula Franklin: Ursula Franklin was an extraordinary scientist and activist, and her death is a great loss even if she had, as my grandfather would’ve put it, “a good innings.”
  • A New Wave of Astronomy: A basic intro to gravitational waves, posted shortly after the first GW detection event was publicized.
  • Why all the fuss about neutrinos?: An editorial on neutrinos, for some context around Arthur Macdonald’s Nobel win in 2015.

Now that I don’t have a thesis looming over my head, I’m hoping to get back into writing somewhat regularly — here’s hoping that pans out.

Some Housekeeping

Well that was a longer hiatus than anticipated! Theses are like gases that fill to expand a grad student’s life, and once I stopped blogging it was far easier to not blog than start up again. (I think there’s a law along that line…) But the End Of Thesis is within sight and I finally have a little more breathing room, so I’m aiming to get back to blogging here with a non-zero frequency. Even though I’ve not been writing here for some time, I’ve written a few things elsewhere, mostly editorials for Science Borealis:

I saw both The Martian and (finally) Interstellar recently, so it may be time for another round of Steph Overthinks Science Fiction Movies With Questionable Physics. (Previously in that series: Pacific Rim.) Though I actually thought The Martian did a good job with the science! I was very pleasantly surprised! I was substantially less impressed with Interstellar.

In short, more soon, and hopefully with more regularity.

Science Borealis Launches Today!

For the past year or so, a team of Canadian scientists and science publishers (including yours truly) have been putting together Science Borealis, a home-grown Canadian science blogging initiative. Science Borealis is a aggregator for Canadian [1] science blogs: we syndicate RSS feeds for our members’ blogs, collating them in a single place to foster new connections and community. There are plenty of excellent Canadian science blogs out there, but to the best of our knowledge, there wasn’t any umbrella site listing or syndicating them, or trying to identify a broad community. So, we built one! Now there’s a central place to start looking for people of all stripes writing about Canadian science. We’re hoping to build some community ties between bloggers, and help foster and encourage new bloggers and writers to join the community. While the science communication community is rapidly expanding (especially in the US and the UK), the Canadian perspective can get lost in the shuffle, and we’re hoping to change that.

On a side note, in light of the spate of recent growing pains with regards to women’s representation/place/treatment in science and science communication, about two thirds of both the founders and the editors we’ve since added to the team are women. This is, of course, no panacea for ever making ill-thought comments or decisions, but we’re attuned to the discussions going on the community, and are committed to making our corner of the science communication world open, welcoming, and diverse. Starting off with a large number of women on the editorial team is, I think, a step in a positive direction.

So, please join us at Science Borealis! If you have a science blog, please syndicate it with us! If you’re interested in contributing or volunteering beyond syndicating your blog, or have any feedback for us, please let us know. We’re still looking for editors for both Math and Stats editor and General Science, so if you’re interested in joining the editorial team, please let us know.

  1. To clarify: Canadian includes both people who live in Canada and Canadians living outside of Canada.

Hello Again, Internet!

In light of my continued and increasingly public involvement with Science Borealis (a Canadian science blogging network that a group of us are putting together), I think the time has come to put my actual name on this blog, rather than awkwardly skirting around the pseudonym issue. I was hoping to have a rebuilt site ready to go by now, but science has had other ideas and kept me busy lately. So, without further ado…..

Hi! I’m Stephanne Taylor — like Stephanie, but spelt just strangely enough to cause confusion — and I’m a PhD student at McGill University in Montreal. I’m currently studying physical oceanography, but I have done research in gravitational physics and also a bit of applied physics. I’ll have a full research write-up and bio when I finish the new site, hopefully within a few weeks.

In the mean time, I’m handling the Twitter account for Science Borealis for July, where we’re trying to build a robust network of Canadian scientists, science communicators of all stripes, and science enthusiasts in advance of our full site launch. Please join us there!

Welcome to Eight Crayon Science!

One time a couple of years ago, when I was working on my MSc, my parents took me out for dinner, and in the middle of it, my Dad handed me a pocket notebook and a package of eight Crayola crayons and asked me to explain my thesis to him.  I found a blank page, thought for a minute, and tried to put my very abstract thesis into pictures, to moderate success — art is not something I’m talented at, and the pictures ended up squished in a corner of the crowded page.  It must’ve made an impression on my Dad, though, because since then, whenever my Dad has asked about what I’m working on, he’s made a quip about having a package of crayons waiting for me.   

My parents are both very smart people, but neither of them have much of a formal background in science beyond high school.  Science is often communicated in technical language, which is often very discipline-specific and can be very obscure, or through popular media, which frequently obscures or misrepresents the findings.  However, I believe that having a grasp of solid, evidence based science is becoming increasingly important, regardless of what level or kind of formal education a person has.  This blog is my attempt to lay a plank over the gap between the technical language of science and the lay language of people like my parents.  Eight Crayon Science is not about jargon, obscure details, or pages of formulas and mathematics. It’s about the fundamental ideas underpinning the science that affects our everyday lives. It’s about communicating those ideas, discoveries, and theories in a way that’s clear, honest, and hopefully accessible. It’s about fostering a dialogue about science that everyone, not just specialists and scientists, can participate in comfortably — and I hope you do! Science is helping to provide us with the means to understand some of the most important changes occurring in the world around us, and I hope you’ll join me in exploring and discovering our world.

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions for posts, or feedback, I would love to hear from you. Please email me at {at} gmail {dot} com. Welcome aboard!