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The Sciences

Physics and Modern Media at DPF2011

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I'm leaving early in the morning for the annual meeting of the Division of Particles and Fields (DPF) of the American Physical Society, which is being hosted by Brown University in Providence. Later in the week (9am Thursday, to be precise) I'm delivering a plenary talk with the assigned title "Early Universe and Cosmology", which I'm looking forward to, and which I'll report on after it's over. I'm also just generally looking forward to being in Providence again, having studied for my Ph.D. at Brown a long time ago. The meeting begins tomorrow, and a new and interesting event taking place on the first day is a lunch-time forum (noon to 1:30pm) on Physics and Modern Media. University of Washington Professor Gordon Watts, who blogs over at Life as a Physicist, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Professor Ken Bloom, who blogs at Quantum Diaries, were nice enough to ask me to be on this panel. But unfortunately my travel constraints mean I'm almost certain to miss it, and so I had to decline. Despite this crushing blow, they're going ahead anyway, and have invited several others to discuss how physicists interact with the public in the world of blogs, tweets, and other social media. Their intention is to discuss some general issues, such as how these can be used to better communicate science to the public, as well as tackling some of the better known controversies, such as the appearance of unofficial "results" from particle physics experiments on blogs. As if this acknowledgement of the modern world wasn't enough, the DPF has also encouraged its members to use Twitter to engage other DPF members and the broader public during the conference, using the hash tag #DPF2011. They intend to monitor this through the forum and relay comments to the panel. While I don't tweet myself, this certainly seems like an efficient way to get questions in real time to the moderators. I know a lot of you out there have strong opinions on these issues, one way or another, and I hope you'll take this opportunity for an open discussion. I'll be back later to report on the meeting, but for now let me just wish Gordon and Ken luck with this new addition to the DPF meetings.

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