DCU student involved in innovative science book

DCU student Maria Delaney is one of the brains behind a new innovative science book launched recently.

A Neutron Walks Into A Bar has been compiled by Maria, a Journalism masters student, who linked up with Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin (presenter of RTE’s The Science Squad), Humphrey Jones and Paul O’Dwyer to develop a different kind of science book.

Maria explains that the book is a collection of science facts, definitions, explanations, biographies and jokes.

“The book is full of short and snappy science facts,” Maria says, “all written in under 140 characters i.e. the size of a tweet. The subjects include topics as diverse as The Universe, What is a Mole?, Extreme Animals and Science Jokes. Our Science of Sex section might appeal to DCU students out there.”

This is not an ordinary book as it began its life as Science140, an exciting social media project, but since its launch on Twitter in the spring of 2012, thousands of tweets have been collected, each explaining a scientific principle, fact, joke or biography in 140 characters or less.

“We tweeted a theme from @ science140 every day for three months and we received thousands of replies using #Science140. The editing process was very difficult, as we had to pick the best of these submissions for the book. The final count of contributors whose tweets made it into A Neutron Walks Into A Bar was 190.”
The idea for the book is a new innovative way to learn more about science, but how did the idea for the book come about.

‘We basically all met over Twitter’, Maria says, explaining that it was inspired by a single tweet from RTÉ presenter, Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, excited to learn how glosticks work.

“Dentist/journalist, Paul O’Dwyer and science teacher/ blogger, Humphrey Jones, spotted Aoibhinn’s tweet. A few mentions and direct messages later, the three decided to meet and discuss a potential social media project. Following this, I joined the team to help coordinate the project and the Science 140 team was complete.”

Maria says that the book is aimed at quite a broad audience, and is surprised at the interest so far.

“I’m actually quite surprised by the wide range of audience that the book has appealed to since the launch. I’d recommend it to anyone from secondary school up. It was written by science enthusiasts and scientists from all over the world so it also contains snippets of more complicated science for us science nerds to enjoy.”
The book will also see royalties donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland. Maria says that they were delighted that the book, about science, could help fund science.

“Due to the crowd sourcing nature of the project, we felt all royalties had to be donated to charity. We teamed up with the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland, as we knew that cystic fibrosis has the highest incidence in Ireland. The money raised will go directly to dedicated research projects in Ireland. Essentially this is a science book that funds science.”

The book is available on Amazon and in bookshops around Ireland.

Brendan White

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