Byte Science – The Parkour of Science Communication


The ‘average’ Oxford student is a very busy entity. In keeping up with reading, events, assignments, essays and actually having fun, there is very little time and mental stamina left to really get involved with non-field related news. So even if the Geographer is rabidly interested in Physics, it could be rather difficult to find the time to read the lengthy articles on the incredible Higgs Boson discovery. What might aid the process is an animated video on the topic at PhDcomics.

The idea is to go from point A (limited understanding, but great curiosity of a topic) to point B (great understanding and satisfied curiosity) in a captivating and efficient manner, whilst overcoming the hurdles of field specific language and information. While it may not have the visual bang of a parkour video, the idea is essentially the same.

In a world that includes RSS feeds, Twitter, shortsharpscience (courtesy of NewScientist) and 60-second podcasts by ScientificAmerican, science is well on its way to being consumed by anybody even remotely interested. If someone has invested so much in producing that science, wouldn’t dissemination be a clear and vital goal? Why let it end in a journal? This is generally where the field of science communication or Alan Alda with ‘Flame Challenge’ or the FameLab comes in.

Short, concise, ideally ‘no scrolling required’ and illustrated should be the paragon of textual ‘byte sized science’. A podcast that can be listened to (attentively) in its entirety during short commutes is even better. Thinking of one’s own research in terms of ‘elevator speech’ is also a good exercise and probably more understandable than dreaming of the day you present on TEDTalks yourself.

In light of keeping this article short, in conclusion, the best science is likeable, communicable and digest-able. If one’s worked on it, gave it their life-blood, it needs to be shared, in an effective and appealing manner.