If I can do two posts today and two tomorrow, I can be caught up with this. Wish me luck! Here goes a whirlwind of science and pseudo-science advent calendars on Twitter.
At-Bristol is a child-oriented science museum. They have another one of those easy idea, but they aren’t using it as well as they might. The easy idea is an advent calendar of neat science facts. The one shown here for Day 13 is that lightning is three times hotter than the surface of the sun. I had no idea, did you? They use the tag #advent, but they don’t include either a picture or give a link, meaning they are just trying to get you to come look at their Twitter stream, not expand beyond that to their other locations. Their main Twitter stream, which confusingly breaks their brand identity of At-Bristol by using @AtBristol, does show other activities, such as Santa’s Invention Workshop for making science ornaments, and provides a link to their homepage. Their homepage talks about Bringing Science to Life, which is another UK-based child-oriented science education resource, but which is not clearly identified as associated with the museum or distinct from it. Lots of good stuff, but a little confusing.
Elements-Science has their own Twitter channel, but that isn’t how I found them, as you can tell from one image of a distinctly open-mouthed young man praising the Elements Advent Calendar, and a second tweet implying that they’ve studded the calendar with made up factoids. I had to check this out, of course.
While I agree that highlighting a self-described “media-medic” on a site that wants to be taken seriously in science journalism is perhaps not ideal, I couldn’t actually find any falsehoods in the information provided. Not at all sure to what the tweeter was objecting. On the other hand, one of today’s highlighted articles is about precognition through dreams, so maybe Elements-Science is not as scientific as one might hope. This is a nice way of taking the science fact advent calendar concept to the next level, via the website, use of images, and such.
Planet Science uses their @PlanetScience Twitter account to link to their website, as well as the advent calendar. The interesting slant they’ve used is to frame the calls to the calendar as quiz questions on several days. You click through because the question is so intriguing you just HAVE to know the answer! I also found it clever that the design of the calendar centered around a snowman (typical) who is really a lightbulb (scientific!).
I was initially comforted by @Blue_Wode’s posting of the Science Comedy Advent Calendar in part because they also got off schedule and had to catch up. I’m not alone, what a relief. 🙂 I also like the idea of science comedy, being a fan of both Mythbusters and Beakman. But when I clicked, I found that @Blue_Wode manages an anti-quackery website, which should have been a clue. Personally, I often find that anti-quackery sites are so biased in the opposite direction that they can be trusted no more than the quackery sites. Jim Ottaviani has had for many years an email signature of the original Latin for “Who watches the watchers?”, which is a useful question to keep in mind when viewing any website but especially those that purport to guard the rest of us from ourselves.
Luckily the Science Digestive blog by @garwboy, despite appealing to the extremists, does include both genuine science and genuine humor. The links direct to a blog, with a sadly hideous interface stuffed with animated gifs (perhaps that is part of the humor?), but when you click through to the individual posts and cover up the images with your hand, the written content is wryly humorous.
Cheltenham Festivals focuses on four topics: jazz, science, music, and literature. Don’t ask me why they distinguish between jazz and music. What interested me is that their advent calendar is also a Christmas competition on their blog, with the highlighted topics switching between these focus areas. So, while it includes significant amounts of science, it is not an entirely science-focused countdown calendar. It is unusual that they use audio almost exclusively in their competition trials, asking their audience to listen and identify the speaker or performer. It rather excludes people who are deaf, but perhaps all their events do the same.