THURSDAY, 14 MAY 2020Disclaimer: The contents of this article represent opinions and views shared on Twitter, and do not necessarily constitute peer reviewed scientific research.
April has seen a flurry of researchers, communicators and policymakers take to Twitter to discuss all things science related. Within the confines of lockdown, Twitter has been amped up even further as a space for the exchange of opinions on science, with the current COVID-19 pandemic as the centrepiece of most discussions.
Many have taken to discussing the mode of scientific response to the coronavirus. For example, Vice President for Research at John’s Hopkins, Denis Wirtz, has suggested that the opinions of researchers not directly engaged with COVID-19 may be detrimental to public assessment of the pandemic. On another note, Associate Professor of Chemistry Jen Heemstra has chosen to highlight how seemingly ‘wasteful’ research is now essential to our response to the pandemic, highlighting the necessity for widespread research avenues. It is clear that the virus will add further fuel to the continuing debate on how science should be conducted.
While otherwise great scholars at H and S are pontificating about a virus and pandemic they do not have the faintest clue about, bringing about utter consternation and embarrassment, serious researchers in the same institutions are working hard at real solutions
— Denis Wirtz (@deniswirtz) April 24, 2020
A year ago, if you read about government funding being used to measure the velocity of a sneeze, it would have been tempting to call it “wasteful spending.” But, much of this seemingly wasteful research is now saving lives. Why do we need government funding for science? A thread.
— Jen Heemstra (@jenheemstra) April 26, 2020
Others have been more focused on relaying and representing research on the virus. Adam Kucharski, mathematician and author of ‘The Rules of Contagion’, has shared his preliminary data analysis on the efficacy of social responses to the virus. On the other hand, many have been driven to comment on studies they believe to be less than adequate. There has been particular debate on a graph representing coronavirus deaths as a swirling tornado of colours.
Our new preliminary analysis looks at the potential impact of various isolation, contact tracing, testing, and physical distancing measures on COVID-19, using social interaction data from over 40,000 people in the UK https://t.co/X6tKsC9ROE 1/ pic.twitter.com/dCRi0HfZgQ
— Adam Kucharski (@AdamJKucharski) April 25, 2020
Calling for a temporary ban on data visualization until we figure out what is going on pic.twitter.com/bQAG1PRQAa
— Emma Wager (@emmawage) April 28, 2020
The social impact of the virus on the population has been widely reported. Academics on Twitter have also been careful to highlight the social impacts on academia in particular, in terms of the biased effect that a period of lockdown may have on women and other minority communities within the academy.
Six weeks into widespread self-quarantine, editors of academic journals have started noticing a trend: Women — who (ofc) shoulder more family responsibility — seem to be submitting fewer papers than usual. There is some evidence that men are submitting *more.* (a thread)
— Caroline Kitchener (@CAKitchener) April 25, 2020
Some scientists, however, have taken the opportunity to provide some science-related comic relief. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, high-profile cosmologist and science communicator, has taken to Twitter to provide short nuggets of comedy for his followers. Suffice it to say, Twitter will continue to provide an avenue for academics to engage in deep discussion and light-hearted exchanges over the coming months, as we navigate a difficult period in human history.
When you think about it, an Egg is a just Spacesuit for an Embryo. pic.twitter.com/3vugoXXYg0
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) April 12, 2020
You know it's true…
Every disaster movie begins with a scientist being ignored.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) April 25, 2020
Geeky Physics Fact:
If you die on your Birthday in the same hospital you were born, then your Average Velocity through life on Earth was zero.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) April 23, 2020
Adiyant Lamba is a news editor at Bluesci.