Six Years a Sunfish

Posted by Tom Webb in Mola Mola

Very little is known about the lifespan and reproductive biology of the ocean sunfish, Mola mola, after which this blog is named. They can live to be at least 20 years old, however, and so one can assume that to dispatch one at six years old is to cut it off in its prime. Yet haul this one on to deck and administer a hefty blow from an oversized fisherman's priest we must. After years of kind support from first Nature... Read more


Seafood offers up a mouthful of man-made garbage

Public opinion is divided when it comes to the pleasure of eating oysters and other sea creatures that stare boldly back at you while you eat them. Like Marmite®, you either love it or you hate it.   Now, researchers at the University of California, Davis have added an extra level of complexity to this debate by showing that the seafood we eat regularly contains man-made rubbish that has made it out to sea. The team caught and sampled a... Read more


Spotlight on Helen Wauck: HCI Researcher Studying Spatial Skills Training with Games

Meet Helen Wauck, first to be featured in a series about some of the women young researchers attending this year's Heidelberg Laureate Forum in September 2016. Credit: Photo courtesy of Helen Wauck Helen is a PhD student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where her work centers on human-computer interaction. Her research, as she explains it, is on the cognitive side of a rather broad field. I study how to use video games to train spatial skills. Spatial skills are crucial... Read more


The SCICOMM 25 – July 2016

Welcome to the FINAL SCICOMM 25 on! At the end of August this platform will disappear, but I'm currently setting up a new home for this blog. Stay tuned for the exciting details. Now back to your regularly scheduled post... This is where I pull together 25 (or more) of most talked about science communication stories, determined by the engagement rate of stories I've shared on Twitter. Many are written by the world's leading science communicators. Some offer tips and... Read more


Gem of the Gulf: The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

When you imagine vast coral reefs, the tropical waters of the Caribbean and Pacific Islands often come to mind. However, located approximately 100 miles off the Texas and Louisiana coasts in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), lies a vibrant under water world unbeknownst to most people: the Flower Gardens Bank National Marine Sanctuary. The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS) is home to a vast array of hard corals, schools of reef fish, manta rays, and more. Originally discovered... Read more


Dynamics of Local Group galaxies: Evidence for a past Milky Way–Andromeda Flyby?

The following is a guest post by Indranil Banik. Indranil is a PHD student at the University of Saint Andrews, part of the Scottish Universities’ Physics Alliance. He was born in Kolkata, India and moved to the UK with his parents a few years later. Indranil works on conducting tests to try and distinguish between standard and modified gravity, especially by considering the Local Group. Before starting his PhD in autumn 2014, he obtained an undergraduate and a Masters degree from... Read more


What A Loser: Learning From Rejection

You find the strangest things when you pack up your house to move. So far I've unearthed a lifelike stuffed emu, my father-in-law’s high school yearbook, and a Cabbage Patch Kid – still in the original packaging. The real find was a folder labeled Reject Letters. It was full of the many ‘thanks but no thanks’ letters I received when I was searching for my first full-time job after graduating from college. I desperately wanted to be a broadcaster, and applied for... Read more


The SCICOMM 25 (June 2016)

Welcome to the SCICOMM 25! This is where I pull together 25 (or more) of most talked about science communication stories, determined by the engagement rate of stories I've shared on Twitter. Many are written by the world's leading science communicators. Some offer tips and advice, while others tackle important issues we need to discuss and debate. All of them are worth checking out. I hope you enjoy this month's list, which includes posts I found during the month of June 2016. Top... Read more


Say it ain’t so, SciLogs!

SciLogs is coming to an end? How can this be? Science journalism and its sister, science blogging, are growing, aren't they? Is science journalism on the decline? I hope not, as for the last 11 months, I’ve been teaching students about science journalism and encouraging them to become a part of it all. Take a look at a few of their stories at Arizona Illustrated, a feature of Arizona Public Media. Teaching and research cut into my ability to blog, but I... Read more


Goodbye, Old Blog – Hello, New Blog

SciLogs announced earlier this month that it will be shutting down in September. This marks the end of Communication Breakdown, but the beginning of my new blog, Science Communication Breakdown. I was invited to join the SciLogs blogging team in the autumn of 2012. In my first post, published October 24 of that year, I posed a baseline question: Is there enough to say about science communication to sustain a blog? The answer is, apparently, yes. To date, I’ve published... Read more US is shutting down…Quiet Branches Will Continue Where it Started.

I got the email that SciLogs US is shutting down as of September and that the blog network will still exist in it's native Germany and only in German. Its a business decision that happens from time to time and understandable. When Paige recruited me to write here, I was really honored and I've tried to do more ambitious posts since I've started writing here. It was a vote of confidence to me that I really can write well enough... Read more



Farewell It is with great sadness that I write that Spektrum der Wissenschaft, the media host of, has decided to shut down this English-language blogging network. I have been blogging here since 2011. At first what are now the blogs were hosted by Nature Network, an online forum and social network site at Nature Magazine. Our blogs were then transitioned to being hosted by Spektrum, and became the blogs. The official message is that Spektrum had for business... Read more


All Good Things Must Come To An End

I am immensely, indescribably sad to learn this morning via an emailed missive from Spektrum der Wissenschaft (the German publishers behind our platform) that they are going to shutter this platform down in September, the ostensible reason being that they "weren’t able to find investors for this platform" – the bane of any private endeavor. Some of you, my fellow Scilogs bloggers, may have known this already, but I certainly didn't. More fool me. The email paints the origin... Read more


Dysfunctional pipelines and other insights from NIH conference on women in biomedical careers

Earlier this month I attended a conference at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on new interventions to help support women in biomedical research careers. You can view the webcast here. A reoccurring theme was that a critical mass of women going into research careers is not enough. Women make up roughly half of STEM Ph.D.s but just 20% of full professors.  I’ve heard the justification that women are dropping out of the pipeline to raise children. While this might... Read more


What News Story Characteristics Make People More Likely to Share It?

Online news outlets are interested in driving traffic to their websites. One way to do that is to get people to disseminate news stories through social media. A recent study attempts to outline which features in a news story make people more likely to share it. Getting people to share news stories online is important to online news companies, particularly those whose revenue models rely on online visitors. A study from Columbia University and the French National Institute found that... Read more