Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Predicting Science News

Andrew over at (the geology page) posted his fantastic idea for the upcoming Fall AGU meeting. Prior to the meeting he tries to predict what ten research projects presented at AGU would get the most print. That is, which talks or posters would show up in newspapers, magazines, and on-line. He batted an astonishing .900 last meeting (see this for his write-up on the process.) Both the prediction and the post-meeting media analysis can serve as good starting off points for science and society discussion. If I were in a position where I had students, I could also see this as a good way to make the connection between current research and the science page of their local paper.

Andrew is soliciting entries to either be posted on his blog, or linked to from his page. Links are above or in my sidebar.

As a note, I know that most of you when compiling your lists will search through the abstracts for exciting terms like "thermochronology," "k-feldspar MDD modelling," or "apatite (U-Th)/He." For some unknown reason, print media has been slow to pick up on the Thermo-craze, so while I know that those are the stories you all think SHOULD be reported on the most, I'd suggest trying other themes. Someday print media will understand what the rest of the earth science community already knows (low-temperature thermochronology is hot), but for now, things like earthquakes, hazards, and climate change get all the ink.


BrianR said...

don't you mean the general public will soon notice how hot deep-marine sedimentation is?

i foresee small, stuffed turbidites (kinda like stuffed animals) that will excite young and old alike...similar to the beanie-baby craze of the mid 90s.

i can't wait

Thermochronic said...

I've been trying for hours to picture a stuffed turbidite in my head....I'm not sure it is working. Stuffed apatites though, now that could work. Do you have a prototype? I am sure this could be our ticket to financial independence. Plush geology themed children's toys.

On a related note, I've been working on a children's book in my head about the "Brave little biotite." It will of course be thermochronology themed. But really, are there any geology themed children's books? This is a market just waiting to be exploited....

Thermochronic said...

Fischer Price's "My First Brunton", and the "Easy Bake Vacuum Furnace"

I'm on a roll....

CJR said...

It's the cuddly magnets the kids go for. Especially if you bury a real magnet inside ;-)

And I'm not thinking about AGU, as I can only send my poster to be ripped to shreds by the tectonic mafia.

Kim said...

If I was in a position where I had students, I could also see this as a good way to make the connection between current research and the science page of their local paper.

It's too bad that AGU is during finals week (which is one reason why I never go) - this is a great idea.

(I stopped being a member because I wasn't going to the meetings and there was this huge pile of EOSes threatening the deskcrops in my office. If you've never seen a giant garnet shaking in fear in front of a pile of mere paper... well, it is a sad thing.)

As for geology-themed kids' books - the Magic Schoolbus series has some geology books.

And I would be the first to buy a giant plush apatite for my kid. (Magnetic toys, alas, keep being recalled because kids swallow the magnets and then their intestines get stuck together and... well, eek.)

Thermochronic said...

Kim - I can see how AGU is an odd time or faculty, my bosses luck out with the timing of finals I suppose, but as it is we are all missing end of the year thingies (which means I am passing up many free food and beer opportunities.)

And let's just keep track, with Kim's response the score is Plush Apatite 1, stuffed turbidite and magnetic toy 0.

BrianR said...

hmm...this comment might come up twice...something weird happened

No, I do not have a prototype of the plush turbidite ... yet.

I predict that a full Bouma sequence would be a big seller, but I can also envision a cute 'bottom-absent' turbidite, and a tough-looking, but lovable, mass transport complex.

The toy box for them will be a foreland basin, you get your choice of retroarc or peripheral (sold separately, of course).

Yami McMoots said...

Mud volcanoes don't really lend themselves to plush, but what parent can resist giving their child a manual on how to fill the back yard with mud, educationally?

You would think that this is restricting the joys of mud volcanology to those children whose families are sufficiently well-off to have yards, but actually, children who travel to the local Superfund site to make their mud volcanoes are getting a much more authentic experience.

Yami McMoots said...

Also, the Velcro gimmick of "Granny Granite and her Delaminating Pals" is unstoppable.

Karen said...

How about "The Little Pumpellyite That Could?"

Andrew said...

You guys!

Anonymous said...

(newbie here) - You all laugh but I have a daughter who has wanted to be a scientist since the age of 5 and now at 9 has zeroed in on astrobiology/astrogeology (wants to study the rocks from other planets, I'm sure I've got the name wrong).

ANYWAY, I found your nice little blog because I was and AM searching for "stuffed toy rocks". They now have microbes (you can give someone a stuffed Herpes virus...ain't that sweet), so I thought much like PetRocks of the past...? You never know.

So BRING ON the plush geology toys!

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