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“Social Media” – Making Waves

June 7, 2019
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Words A Zanzibar. 
Header Credits Fatema D.

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We hear a lot about making waves in certain areas. Like Gretta Thunberg, who pushed her friends and associates to do something great: enlightening people about climate change in a big way.

The World Wide Web was created at CERN, a huge underground laboratory between France and Switzerland (soon to become even bigger), as a way to communicate information between laboratories. Now, people search for cat videos on it.

When the first radio was made it was made in order to communicate between one country and the other. Morse code was first used in order to facilitate communication between troops in the United States civil war. Autostart and engineering go into making everything that you use today. The first computer was the loom, i.e. what we make hats and mittens out of; the computer that we now use was made by Alan Turing, a scientist during the second world war.

Today we have social media, a bountiful place for information and a plethora of cat videos. As social media blooms and takes over the lives of everyone on this planet, a new field has opened up for many scientists – science communication.

Science communication means students of different scientific fields take to social media to debunk the myths that crop up (like the myth that vaccination causes autism in children or that essential oils are ‘healthier’ than normal medicine). Many of these science communicators are either PhD students or doctors in various fields, and their purpose is to change the way science is perceived. Many think of science as some super long, super boring series of papers with a tonne of mathematical mumbo jumbo that no one understands and that helps absolutely no one. The problem scientists have is a lack of representation to communicate their studies, with a publisher that published their papers in some obscure journal that no layman will ever read, or even take the time to comprehend. Because of this, some scientists took it upon themselves to communicate the science they worked on through comics (such as xkcd by Robert Munroe and Piled Higher and Deeper by Cham Jorge), some communicated through YouTube (such as Dianna Covern of PhysicsGirl and Derek Muller of Veritasium) and some communicated through Instagram (such as Doctor Mike Varshawski @Doctor.Mike and Sarrah Habibi @science.bae). Each of them took science communication as a way to inspire others to understand science better, and as a means to share their geekiness and their love for their field with everyone who passes by their social media accounts, sometimes intoxicating people with it in the process.

Social media has its cons; the anti-vaccine movement wouldn’t have become such a big deal if it weren’t for the fear-mongering initiated on social media with false information. But it’s also because of social media that everyone has seen a black hole, that everyone knows what stars do (if you haven’t, you might want to check out A Star Is Born by ASAPScience, it’s really catchy!) and the reason why you’re reading this, though you may not even know me.

The world is full of possibilities, and social media is one of the amazing tools we have made that allows everyone to be a part of something bigger. Social media allows us to learn more, from sources from all over the planet, even from the remotest regions of our South Pole (if you follow NASA, you can even get updates from space!). With social media, we can all be like Buzz from Toy Story and aspire to reach infinity and beyond (that is, if we choose to click on that science video made by The King Of Random and explore the random and beautiful world of scientific exploration and not the cat video about Tom trying to catch Jerry in endless pursuit).


 

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