Council for the Advancement of Science Writing

New Horizons 2012 science stories told in posts and pictures

 CASW’s New Horizons in Science 2012 is sure to be remembered for lab coats, lemurs, zombies—and Sandy, the Frankenstorm that sideswiped our meeting.

There was also some remarkable new science.

Officially, 517 science writers signed up for ScienceWriters2012, a cornucopia that featured New Horizons science, Halloween festivities, NASW workshops, science tours, Lunch with a Scientist and a gala awards reception in North Carolina’s Research Triangle October 26–30.

By the time the NASW meeting got under way in Raleigh on the 27th, the wind already was whipping sponsor logos off the lab coat worn by the Sir Walter Raleigh statue outside the Raleigh Convention Center. (Sir Walter had been dressed by members of the Science Communicators of North Carolina, our hardworking and endlessly creative local organizers.)

[ibimage====undefined==undefined==undefined==undefined]East Coast-based writers and scientists were pacing, searching and phoning in pursuit of flights home.

The many who stayed were rewarded with New Horizons science talks that lit up the blogosphere. Dispatches on New Horizons 2012 science can be found at Wired Science (Maryn McKenna’s Superbug piece on Steve Wing’s session on hog production and human health,Science News (Tanya Lewis’s coverage of Katherine Freese’s proposal for using DNA to detect dark matter particles and NBCNews.com (Alan Boyle’s recap of David M. Rothschild’s talk on election prediction).

University science writers shared news from talks by Greg Wray, the opening speaker; Linda Kah, a Mars Science Lab mission scientist, physicist Mark Kruse, who spoke about the Higgs particle, and others. 

Twitter users feasted on ScienceWriters2012 posts. Between the start of New Horizons on the 28th and Nov. 7, 3,189 tweets were posted using the #sciwri12 hashtag. A Taghive analysis showed that 2,500 #sciwri12 tweets reached more than 6.7 million people during the period Oct. 24–29. A substantial number focused on New Horizons topics, including:[ibimage====undefined==undefined==undefined==undefined]

  • industrial hog production and health (also tagged #scihog)
  • the Mars Science Lab mission (#scimars, #MSL)
  • voter expectations, social networks, markets and election prediction
  • revolutionary ideas in science
  • supernovas and robot telescopes
  • genetic manipulation and pests (#scipest)
  • dark matter detection (#scidark) and dark stars (#scistar)
  • neuroprosthetics (#scirobot)
  • games for studying cognitive aging (#sciage)
  • vaccines in soybeans (#scisoy)

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And this year our "science scribe," Perrin Ireland, both provided and inspired novel forms of New Horizons coverage as she sketched selected science sessions. Her visual summaries were incorporated into Storify archives that curated visual and written social media coverage.—Rosalind Reid, CASW Program Director

Photographs by Amy West (statue), David Jarmul (Greg Wray talking with attendees) and Karl Bates (Steve Wing session).

See also:

Attendees who log into their member accounts can find updated background materials by navigating to session pages in the New Horizons program.