Bringing science to life

In this edition

Welcome to our July 2013 newsletter: 10 thingsThis week Jenni celebrates 10 years as sole director of Econnect. So we thought we’d use the theme ‘10’ to share our insights and tips this month.

Let us know what you think on Facebook, Twitter or email us.

Regards from the @EconnectTeam:

Jenni Metcalfe, Mary O’Callaghan (newsletter editor), Sarah Cole, Robbie Mitchell, Alison Binney, Jane Ilsley, Tom Dixon, Anne Huang and Amelie Casgrain (intern).

10 big lessons

By Jenni Metcalfe

Over the past decade, I’ve learnt many lessons. Here are the 10 biggest:

  1. Remember that the client is always right, even when they’re wrong.
  2. Build an outdoor deck onto your office as a meeting/drinks area. In winter, have thick blankets and/or red wine available.
  3. Hire at least one person who is older than you… you’ll feel a little less decrepit.
  4. Hire at least one person who is young enough to be your child; you’ll learn a whole new language.
  5. Check flight departure times before you leave for the airport.
  6. Never leave the keys in the boot of the hire car, especially if your laptop, cameras and workshop materials are in there.
  7. Take a travelling companion so they can pick up after you, or at least remind you to bring your suitcase.
  8. If you think a job is going to take x hours, be prepared for it to take y hours, which may be some multiple of x.
  9. Be careful what you wish for (see #8).
  10. Celebrate if you complete your daily to-do list (e.g. red wine on the deck).

10 reasons why I left the lab

By Amelie Casgrain (intern)

With a shiny new graduate certificate and a few internships under my belt, I recently made the move from biomedical research to science communication.

Here are 10 reasons that pushed me out of the lab:

  1. I love science, and…
  2. I love communication!
  3. Writing my master’s thesis was a revelation and I kept wondering: “How can I turn this into a full-time job?”
  4. Triplicates… I couldn’t stand doing the exact same experiments 3 times over!
  5. I find it very gratifying to explain a complex concept to someone in plain language.
  6. Working on an endless array of fascinating subjects satisfies my curiosity.
  7. I get to meet interesting people.
  8. Lab coats are rough and unflattering, and white is really not my colour!
  9. Being able to introduce myself as an intern makes me feel younger.
  10. I believe that communicating science is just as important as doing the research, both for the public and the scientists.

10 things I’m [still] learning about communication

By Sarah Cole

  1. Don’t be afraid of silence: give people space after they’ve stopped talking, and they’ll often add important ideas.
  2. Don’t dismiss informal communication as a great way to have important conversations. Downtime during a meeting or conference can be a great opportunity for exchanging ideas.
  3. Try to listen fully before deciding whether you agree or disagree with someone. It’s hard to listen effectively if you are already comparing new information to what you already know, and evaluating it.
  4. Keep a lid on your emotional reactions to people’s opinions—they will often feel more free to express themselves if you do.

The next 6 things are up to you. Tell me, I’m listening! (Tweet me @sarahcoleoz)

10 reasons why I love my job 

By Tom Dixon

  1. Getting science out into ‘the paddock’, and seeing the difference it makes to farmers.
  2. Travelling through rural Australia to interview farmers and visiting properties that I’d never otherwise see.
  3. Working with a multi-skilled team who bring strengths to every area of writing, communicating and support.
  4. Helping interns to realise their writing potential.
  5. Watching outback sunsets while interviewing innovative farmers (see #2).
  6. Being able to ask ‘stupid’ questions all day… “But why does it work?”
  7. Taking a complex concept and making it more accessible (see #6).
  8. Working with great researchers and innovative farmers.
  9. Finding out new things every day of the year.
  10. Seeing the wonders of the outback, like 200 kangaroos bouncing across a paddock with flocks of emus in the distance as dawn breaks over the red dirt.

Longreach sunset

Longreach sunset
Photo: Tom Dixon, Econnect Communication

Why 10 is so popular 

By Alison Binney

Why is the number 10 so popular for lists, anniversaries and countdowns?

Here are 10 possible reasons:

  1. We have 10 fingers (digits) and 10 toes.
  2. In mathematics, the number 10 has ‘good’ attributes—it is even, positive and natural.
  3. Ten is close to the approximate size of our working memory (about 7, give or take 2), which is the number of things we can recall from a list which we’ve been recently exposed to.
  4. The numbers 1 and 0 appeal to the ego in all of us. The one is the quintessential representation of the self—any number multiplied by one is itself. The zero—naught, nought, nil—is neither positive nor negative.
  5. Ten-codes, or ten signals, such as 10-4 for OK, allowed for brevity and standardisation of public radio transmissions, especially police radio transmissions.
  6. ‘Number 10’ is one of the most famous addresses in the world—10 Downing Street, the office of Britain’s Prime Minister.
  7. If a number ends with a zero it is exactly divisible by 10.
  8. For Pythagoras, 10 was the symbol of the universe and expressed the whole of human knowledge. The Pythagorean triangular symbol—Tetractys—symbolises fire, water, air and earth, and adds up to 10.
  9. The decimal numeral system has 10 as its base. It is the numerical base most widely used by modern civilizations.
  10. The ancient Greeks defined chunks of tens a long time ago—why reinvent the ‘decade’?

The Pythagorean triangular symbol—Tetractys—symbolises fire, water, air and earth, and adds up to 10.

10 quotes that will make you a better, happier writer

By Mary O’Callaghan

Subtitle: Or at least not feel alone in your agony.

I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself. Ok – those are not my words. They belong to Marlene Dietrich.

And here are 10 more quotes from which you may draw some solace:

  1. “If I started to wait for moments of inspiration, I would never finish a book.” Mario Vargas Llosah
  2. “[Listening to oral tales] gave me the knowledge that the simplest incident can make a story.” Erskine Caldwell
  3. “The stories of anywhere are also the stories of everywhere else.” Salman Rushdie
  4. “That’s my principal message to writers: for God’s sake, keep your eyes open.” William S. Burroughs
  5. “I was a freak, but happily my freakishness was in language—not, say, in classifying antique crankshafts.” Les Murray
  6. “Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.” Annie Proulx
  7. “One of the symptoms of approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.” Bertrand Russell
  8. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett
  9. “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Benjamin Franklin
  10. “Work finally begins when the fear of doing nothing at all trumps the terror of doing it badly.” Alain de Botton