Science in 140 Characters

Photo Credit: University of Minnesota Duluth Flickr via Compfight cc

Twitter launched in 2006 and introduced the concept of micro-messaging. It was originally designed to mimic text messaging on cellphones and thus had a limit of 140 characters per message or “tweet.” So friends could send these bite-sized messages or updates about what they were currently doing and they could follow each other, or they could follow people that they liked to hear from. It became a great tool for celebrities to use to update their fanbase on what they were doing, what they were eating, who they were dating, and so on.

Twitter also popularized the use of the #hashtag although it didn’t invent it as some mistakenly think so — hashtags were used back in the IRC (internet relay chat) days of the 90’s but most of the people using it then were computer geeks like me and it had not yet gained mass popularity and usage like it has today. Hashtags are a way to group different tweets together in a topic so one could, for example, search #FastCars or #Bitcoin and very quickly see what others are posting about the topic at hand.

An entomologist named Dalton Ludwick recently tweeted a hashtag called #MyOneScienceTweet asking scientists all over the world: “If you could have the entire world know just one thing about your field of study, then what would it be?”

I have gathered some of the tweets that I found interesting. Of course, these are condensed tidbits of information and I suggest you read further on the topic that jumps out at you to get a more comprehensive understanding:

  1. Homeopathy is a scam. – Scientia Portal
  2. ‘Natural’ doesn’t always mean safe, and ‘chemical’ doesn’t necessarily mean bad. – Scientific American
  3. EVERYTHING is made of ‘chemicals’; including us! – Michael Winiberg
  4. Less access to health and preventive care lead to early mortality in patients with mental illness. – Cedric Bornes
  5. Interaction and institutions shape people’s behavior and beliefs as much if not more than cognition, genes or instincts. – Judson Everitt
  6. 1 of 2 belief systems guide our behavior; faith based or evidence based. The results are compelling. Choose wisely. – Donald Keys
  7. ‘Evidence’ is not a pure, platonic ideal — it matters who gathered it, how, where and why. Diversity = better evidence. – Fiona Robertson
  8. Science education should train students to BE scientists (wonder, question, gather data, draw conclusions) rather than only learn what scientists have discovered in the past; that’s called history. – Alison Stuart
  9. Our immune system changes as we age but we can still manipulate it to improve health and resilience. – Dawn Bowdish
  10. Vaccines do not cause autism, SIDS, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, or cancer. They cause adults. – Rodrigo Guerrero
  11. Your gut is inhabited by trillions of bacteria affecting your health, take care of them. – Robin Mesnage
  12. Every computer ever built is based on the ideas of one man who was arrested, drugged and ostracized for being gay. – Matthew Parets
  13. The plural of anecdote is not data. – Julia Jung
  14. Civilizations rarely collapse. Sociopolitical structures, however, often change and restructure with conflict episodes or waves of instability preceding political breakdown. Also, the Maya never disappeared. Millions of Maya live in Central America. – Valorie V. Aquino
  15. The Higgs boson is responsible for the mass of all the elementary particles I’m made of, which is only 1% of my mass. – David Rosseau

Originally published in Sunstar Davao.

Email me at andy@freethinking.me. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.

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