Popular science

Popular science (also called pop-science or popsci) is an interpretation of science intended for a general audience. While science journalism focuses on recent scientific developments, popular science is more broad-ranging. It may be written by professional science journalists or by scientists themselves. It is presented in many forms, including books, film and television documentaries, magazine articles, and web pages.

Role

Popular science is a bridge between scientific literature as a professional medium of scientific research, and the realms of popular political and cultural discourse. The goal of the genre is often to capture the methods and accuracy of science, while making the language more accessible. Many science-related controversies are discussed in popular science books and publications, such as the long-running debates over biological determinism and the biological components of intelligence, stirred by popular books such as The Mismeasure of Man and The Bell Curve.[1]

The purpose of scientific literature is to inform and persuade peers as to the validity of observations and conclusions and the forensic efficacy of methods. Popular science attempts to inform and convince scientific outsiders (sometimes along with scientists in other fields) of the significance of data and conclusions and to celebrate the results. Statements in scientific literature are often qualified and tentative, emphasizing that new observations and results are consistent with and similar to established knowledge wherein qualified scientists are assumed to recognize the relevance. By contrast, popular science emphasizes uniqueness and generality, taking a tone of factual authority absent from the scientific literature. Comparisons between original scientific reports, derivative science journalism and popular science typically reveal at least some level of distortion and oversimplification which can often be quite dramatic, even with politically neutral scientific topics.[2]

Popular science literature can be written by non-scientists who may have a limited understanding of the subject they are interpreting and it can be difficult for non-experts to identify misleading popular science, which may also blur the boundaries between real science and pseudoscience. However, sometimes non-scientists with a fair scientific background make better popular science writers because of their ability to put themselves in the layperson's place more easily.

Common threads

Some usual features of popular science productions include:

  • Entertainment value or personal relevance to the audience
  • Emphasis on uniqueness and radicalness
  • Exploring ideas overlooked by specialists or falling outside of established disciplines
  • Generalized, simplified science concepts
  • Presented for an audience with little or no science background, hence explaining general concepts more thoroughly
  • Synthesis of new ideas that cross multiple fields and offer new applications in other academic specialties
  • Use of metaphors and analogies to explain difficult or abstract scientific concepts

Notable English-language popularizers of science

In alphabetical order by last name:

Some sources of popular science

Science media

Science in the headlines

Science gateways

News online

News agencies

Press

Daily newspapers

Weeklies

Fortnightlies

Monthlies

Bimonthlies

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Murdz William McRae, "Introduction: Science in Culture" in The Literature of Science, pp. 1–3, 10–11
  2. ^ Jeanne Fahnestock, "Accommodating Science: The Rhetorical Life of Scientific Facts" in The Literature of Science, pp. 17–36
  3. ^ Dawkins, Richard (2008). The Oxford book of modern science writing. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. p. 179. ISBN 0-19-921680-0.
  4. ^ Editorial (October 1987). "Peter Medawar (obituary)". New Scientist. 116 (1581): 16.
  5. ^ "Pharyngula". Scienceblogs.com. 2011-11-04. Retrieved 2011-11-08.
  6. ^ "The Loom". Blogs.discovermagazine.com. Retrieved 2011-11-08.
  7. ^ "ABC Science". Retrieved 2012-11-03.
  8. ^ "BBC Nature". Retrieved 2014-07-19.
  9. ^ "BBC Science". Retrieved 2014-07-19.
  10. ^ "BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science". Retrieved 2012-11-03.
  11. ^ "CASW". Retrieved 2013-01-04.
  12. ^ "Science & Technology". Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  13. ^ "60 Minutes: Health & Science". Retrieved 2013-12-18.
  14. ^ "60 Minutes: Nature". Retrieved 2013-12-18.
  15. ^ "This Morning: HealthWatch". Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  16. ^ "Evening News: Health". Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  17. ^ "Sunday Morning: Nature". Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  18. ^ "Discovery Radio Programme". Retrieved 2012-11-03.
  19. ^ "Discovery Podcasts". Retrieved 2012-11-03.
  20. ^ "Inside Science". Retrieved 2013-07-18.
  21. ^ "Inside Science (AIP)". Retrieved 2013-08-06.
  22. ^ "ITV Science News". Retrieved 2013-08-08.
  23. ^ "Leading Edge". Retrieved 2014-01-02.
  24. ^ "LEARNERS INFINITE". 2 March 2018.
  25. ^ "The Life Scientific". Retrieved 2012-12-14.
  26. ^ "MITnews:science". Retrieved 2013-07-07.
  27. ^ "Nature online"
  28. ^ "NBC Science". Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  29. ^ "NBC Technology". Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  30. ^ "NBC Health". Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  31. ^ "Behind the Headlines ¬ Your guide to the science that makes the news"
  32. ^ "PBS Science & Nature". Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  33. ^ "PBS NewsHour: Science". Retrieved 2013-12-27.
  34. ^ "Nova: science in the news". Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  35. ^ "CBCnews Technology & Science". Retrieved 2013-01-31.
  36. ^ "The Ri Channel". Retrieved 2012-11-03.
  37. ^ "Science Fantastic with Michio Kaku News/Audio/Video/About/Listen Live". Talk Radio Network. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
  38. ^ "NPR Science". Retrieved 2013-01-18.
  39. ^ "The Science Hour". Retrieved 2013-08-06.
  40. ^ "The Science Hour Podcasts". Retrieved 2013-08-06.
  41. ^ "Online Science"
  42. ^ "Science Niblets". Retrieved 2012-11-03.
  43. ^ "Science & Technology News – Latest in scientific breakthroughs and gadgets – VOA News". Retrieved 2012-11-03.
  44. ^ "Science World". Retrieved 2012-11-03.
  45. ^ "WIRED Science". Retrieved 2013-07-17.
  46. ^ "WIRED Science Blogs". Retrieved 2014-05-10.
  47. ^ "WIRED UK Science". Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  48. ^ "Latest News from Science"

Bibliography

  • McRae, Murdo William (editor). The Literature of Science: Perspectives on Popular Scientific Writing. The University of Georgia Press: Athens, 1993. ISBN 0-8203-1506-0
A Short History of Nearly Everything

A Short History of Nearly Everything by American author Bill Bryson is a popular science book that explains some areas of science, using easily accessible language that appeals more so to the general public than many other books dedicated to the subject. It was one of the bestselling popular science books of 2005 in the United Kingdom, selling over 300,000 copies.A Short History deviates from Bryson's popular travel book genre, instead describing general sciences such as chemistry, paleontology, astronomy, and particle physics. In it, he explores time from the Big Bang to the discovery of quantum mechanics, via evolution and geology.

Felipe Poey

Felipe Poey (May 26, 1799 – January 28, 1891) was a Cuban zoologist.

Fox

Foxes are small-to-medium-sized, omnivorous mammals belonging to several genera of the family Canidae. Foxes have a flattened skull, upright triangular ears, a pointed, slightly upturned snout, and a long bushy tail (or brush).

Twelve species belong to the monophyletic "true foxes" group of genus Vulpes. Approximately another 25 current or extinct species are always or sometimes called foxes; these foxes are either part of the paraphyletic group of the South American foxes, or of the outlying group, which consists of bat-eared fox, gray fox, and island fox. Foxes live on every continent except Antarctica. By far the most common and widespread species of fox is the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) with about 47 recognized subspecies. The global distribution of foxes, together with their widespread reputation for cunning, has contributed to their prominence in popular culture and folklore in many societies around the world. The hunting of foxes with packs of hounds, long an established pursuit in Europe, especially in the British Isles, was exported by European settlers to various parts of the New World.

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov (; c. January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer who wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.Asimov wrote hard science fiction. Along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov was considered one of the "Big Three" science fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov's most famous work is the "Foundation" series; his other major series are the "Galactic Empire" series and the Robot series. The Galactic Empire novels are set in earlier history of the same fictional universe as the Foundation series. Later, with Foundation and Earth (1986), he linked this distant future to the Robot stories, creating a unified "future history" for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and previously produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson. He also wrote hundreds of short stories, including the social science fiction novelette "Nightfall", which in 1964 was voted the best short science fiction story of all time by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much nonfiction. Most of his popular science books explain concepts in a historical way, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. Examples include Guide to Science, the three-volume set Understanding Physics, and Asimov's Chronology of Science and Discovery. He wrote on numerous other scientific and non-scientific topics, such as chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, history, biblical exegesis, and literary criticism.

He was president of the American Humanist Association. The asteroid 5020 Asimov, a crater on the planet Mars, a Brooklyn elementary school, and a literary award are named in his honor.

Jared Diamond

Jared Mason Diamond (born September 10, 1937) is an American geographer, historian, and author best known for his popular science books The Third Chimpanzee (1991); Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997, awarded a Pulitzer Prize); Collapse (2005); and The World Until Yesterday (2012). Originally trained in physiology, Diamond is known for drawing from a variety of fields, including anthropology, ecology, geography and evolutionary biology. He is a professor of geography at UCLA.In 2005, Diamond was ranked ninth on a poll by Prospect and Foreign Policy of the world's top 100 public intellectuals.

Light-year

The light-year is a unit of length used to express astronomical distances and measures about 9.46 trillion kilometres (9.46 x 1012 km) or 5.88 trillion miles (5.88 x 1012 mi). As defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a light-year is the distance that light travels in vacuum in one Julian year (365.25 days). Because it includes the word "year", the term light-year is sometimes misinterpreted as a unit of time.

The light-year is most often used when expressing distances to stars and other distances on a galactic scale, especially in nonspecialist and popular science publications. The unit most commonly used in professional astrometry is the parsec (symbol: pc, about 3.26 light-years; the distance at which one astronomical unit subtends an angle of one second of arc).

List of aircraft

This list of aircraft is sorted alphabetically, beginning with the name of the manufacturer (or, in certain cases, designer). It is an inclusive list rather than an exclusive one, meaning that where an aircraft is known under multiple names, designations, or manufacturers, each of these is listed. Note also that this list should not be considered complete and it is constantly being updated with more aircraft types.

This list does not generally include variants or subtypes of the aircraft themselves (although there is considerable difference among various manufacturers and designation systems as to what constitutes a new aircraft as opposed to a variant of an existing type).

List of science magazines

A science magazine is a periodical publication with news, opinions and reports about science, generally written for a non-expert audience. In contrast, a periodical publication, usually including primary research and/or reviews, that is written by scientific experts is called a "scientific journal". Science magazines are read by non-scientists and scientists who want accessible information on fields outside their specialization.

Articles in science magazines are sometimes republished or summarized by the general press.

Mid-size car

A mid-size car— also known as intermediate— is a vehicle size class which originated in the United States and is used for cars that are larger than compact cars, but smaller than full-size cars. The equivalent European category is D-segment, which is also called "large family car". Mid-size cars are manufactured in a variety of body styles, including sedans, coupes, station wagons, hatchbacks and convertibles.

New Scientist

New Scientist, first published on 22 November 1956, is a weekly, English-language magazine that covers all aspects of science and technology. New Scientist, based in London, publishes editions in the UK, the United States, and Australia. Since 1996 it has been available online.

Sold in retail outlets (paper edition) and on subscription (paper and/or online), the magazine covers news, features, reviews and commentary on science, technology and their implications. New Scientist also publishes speculative articles, ranging from the technical to the philosophical.

Nova (TV series)

Nova (stylized NOVΛ) is an American popular science television series produced by WGBH Boston. It is broadcast on PBS in the U.S., and in more than 100 other countries. The series has won many major television awards.Nova often includes interviews with scientists doing research in the subject areas covered and occasionally includes footage of a particular discovery. Some episodes have focused on the history of science. Examples of topics covered include the following:

Colditz Castle,

Drake equation,

elementary particles,

1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens,

Fermat's Last Theorem,

AIDS epidemic,

global warming,

moissanite,

Project Jennifer,

storm chasing,

Unterseeboot 869,

Vinland, and the

Tarim mummies.

The Nova programs have been praised for their good pacing, clear writing, and crisp editing. Websites accompany the segments and have also won awards.

Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics (sometimes PM or PopMech) is a magazine of popular science and technology, featuring automotive, home, outdoor, electronics, science, do-it-yourself, and technology topics. Military topics, aviation and transportation of all types, space, tools and gadgets are commonly featured.It was founded in 1902 by Henry Haven Windsor, who was the editor and—as owner of the Popular Mechanics Company—the publisher. For decades, the tagline of the monthly magazine was "Written so you can understand it." In 1958, PM was purchased by the Hearst Corporation, now Hearst Communications.In 2013, the US edition changed from twelve to ten issues per year, and in 2014 the tagline was changed to "How your world works." The magazine added a podcast in recent years, including regular features Most Useful Podcast Ever and How Your World Works.

Science Illustrated

Science Illustrated is a multilingual popular science magazine published by Bonnier Publications International A/S.

Science book

A science book is a work of nonfiction, usually written by a scientist, researcher, or professor like Stephen Hawking (A Brief History of Time), or sometimes by a non-scientist such as Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything). Usually these books are written for a wide audience presumed to have a general education rather than a specifically scientific training, as opposed to the very narrow audience that a scientific paper would have, and are therefore referred to as popular science. As such, they require considerable talent on the part of the author to sufficiently explain difficult topics to

people who are totally new to the subject, and a good blend of storytelling and technical writing. In the UK, the Royal Society Prizes for Science Books are considered to be the most prestigious awards for science writing. In the US, the National Book Awards briefly had a category for science writing in the 1960s, but now they just have the broad categories of fiction and nonfiction.

There are many disciplines that are well explained to lay people through science books. A few examples include Carl Sagan on astronomy, Jared Diamond on geography, Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins on evolutionary biology, David Eagleman on neuroscience, Donald Norman on usability and cognitive psychology, Steven Pinker, Noam Chomsky, and Robert Ornstein on linguistics and cognitive science, Donald Johanson and Robert Ardrey on paleoanthropology, and Desmond Morris on zoology and anthropology, and Fulvio Melia on black holes.

Scientific American

Scientific American (informally abbreviated SciAm or sometimes SA) is an American popular science magazine. Many famous scientists, including Albert Einstein, have contributed articles to it. It is the oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the United States (though it only became monthly in 1921).

Scientific American Mind

Scientific American Mind is a bimonthly American popular science magazine concentrating on psychology, neuroscience, and related fields. By analyzing and revealing new thinking in the cognitive sciences, the magazine tries to focus on the biggest breakthroughs in these fields. Scientific American Mind is published by Nature Publishing Group which also publishes Scientific American and was established in 2004. The magazine has its headquarters in New York City.The May/June 2017 issue was the last issue published in print, subsequent issues are available through digital platforms.

The Blind Watchmaker

The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design is a 1986 book by Richard Dawkins, in which the author presents an explanation of, and argument for, the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. He also presents arguments to refute certain criticisms made on his first book, The Selfish Gene. (Both books espouse the gene-centric view of evolution.) An unabridged audiobook edition was released in 2011, narrated by Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward.

Thistle

Thistle is the common name of a group of flowering plants characterised by leaves with sharp prickles on the margins, mostly in the family Asteraceae. Prickles occur all over the plant – on the stem and flat parts of leaves. They are an adaptation that protects the plant from being eaten by herbivores. Typically, an involucre with a clasping shape of a cup or urn subtends each of a thistle's flowerheads.

The term thistle is sometimes taken to mean exactly those plants in the tribe Cardueae (synonym: Cynareae), especially the genera Carduus, Cirsium, and Onopordum. However, plants outside this tribe are sometimes called thistles, and if this is done thistles would form a polyphyletic group.

A thistle is the floral emblem of Lorraine and Scotland, as well as the emblem of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

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