Science, as we know the term today, is a catch-all for a range of subjects too numerous to list here. The word “science” literally translates from Latin as “knowledge,” and it’s this pursuance of knowledge about the universe and everything that resides in it that is the basis for the topic as a whole, whether the specific branch of science being investigated is biology, chemistry, or physics.
When thinking about scientists you wouldn’t necessarily think of Twitter as being their primary means of communicating with the wider world. And that assumption would be somewhat correct. However, there are a healthy number of popular scientists using Twitter to share new findings, theories, and opinions with us mere mortals. The eight names on this list are all well-known and well-respected in their field, and will hopefully educate and entertain you with their tweets.
Carl Zimmer @carlzimmer
“Why do we have foreheads, Dad? They have no USE!” Ah, life before the headdesk.
— carlzimmer (@carlzimmer) January 4, 2013
Carl Zimmer is a science writer with a particular passion for biology. As well as being a lecturer at Yale University, Zimmer has penned 12 books about science, and hundreds of articles for esteemed publications such as the New York Times, National Geographic, and Popular Science. His real claim to fame, however, is having a species of tapeworm named after him.
Ben Goldacre @bengoldacre
Recurring theme: “Pharma saves many lives so don’t beat them up over the bad stuff”. I’ve saved lives. Am I allowed to kill a few ppl now?
— ben goldacre (@bengoldacre) January 5, 2013
Ben Goldacre is a physician who has found fame by writing about alternative medicine and the health industry. He has authored two books: Bad Science, based on the newspaper column of the same name, and Bad Pharma, which offers an uncompromising look at the pharmaceutical industry. Goldacre has also appeared on TV and radio, and given a TED talk.
Phil Plait @badastronomer
Geez, a flood of news coming from the astronomy mtg today! Now to see how much I can write before my fingers start to bleed…
— Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer) January 8, 2013
Phil Plait is an astronomer who regularly appears under his pseudonym The Bad Astronomer. As well as writing two books: Bad Astronomy and Death From The Skies, Plait can count being amongst the Hubble Space Telescope team at NASA in the 1990s amongst his various achievements. He also hosted a short-lived TV series on the Discovery Channel.
Richard Wiseman @richardwiseman
“The world is divided into people who think they are right”
— Richard Wiseman (@RichardWiseman) January 9, 2013
Richard Wiseman is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire who has made numerous appearances on television and radio. He’s also known as a skeptic responsible for debunking various reported paranormal phenomena. He’s probably best known, however, for his YouTube channel titled Quirkology.
Michio Kaku @michiokaku
Happy Holidays! Celebrate the Mayan New Year on Dec. 22, 2012, the beginning of the next cycle.
— Dr. Michio Kaku (@michiokaku) December 13, 2012
Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist who is somehow capable of bringing this complex subject to the mainstream in a digestible form. For this reason he’s appeared numerous times on radio and television, as well as writing several books. His day job (if it can be called that) is Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City University of New York.
Bill Nye @thescienceguy
Had a birthday. Another 2(pi)150EE06 km = 940 million kilometers (or so)around the Sun. Not bad…
— Bill Nye (@TheScienceGuy) November 28, 2012
Bill Nye is better known as The Science Guy, perhaps the most famous popularizer of science alive today. Nye isn’t really a scientist in the truest sense of the word, but his innate ability to communicate the processes involved, to both young and old alike, means he is a science educator of the highest order. He’s funny too, which always helps.
Neil deGrasse Tyson @neiltyson
I never promised that all my tweets would be about the universe. But they are genuine thoughts that float around in my head.
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) January 8, 2013
Neil deGrasse Tyson is the only person who can challenge Bill Nye as being most responsible for getting people interested in science. He’s primarily an astrophysicist with several postings, but after hosting a long-running show on PBS he’s become something of the poster boy for the kind of science we’d all love, if only we could understand it. He helps us do just that.
Tim Berners-Lee @timberners_lee
— Tim Berners-Lee (@timberners_lee) January 20, 2012
Tim Berners-Lee is a man we should all bow down to. Why? Because he was the chief architect of the World Wide Web, without which the world would be a much duller place. He is a computer scientist, naturally, who is now mainly focused on leading the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), as well as holding several other important posts at important institutions.
One name missing from the list is the man pictured (in Lego form) in the picture at the top of this article. Stephen Hawking, possibly the greatest scientist currently alive, may be on Twitter — there are certainly plenty of accounts claiming to be him — but I’m not willing to stake money on any of them being the man himself.
As always we’d love to hear from you, with comments welcomed below. Do you think this list is a fair representation of the scientists on Twitter? Or is there another name you’d like to mention? If you enjoyed this article then you may also want to check out a list of the best YouTube channels devoted to science.
Image Credit: Jared Eberhardt