A Feb. 11, 2014 news item on phys.org contends that science communication is being changed by the ever increasing use of GIFs,
The use of “GIFs” has exploded in recent years. They are used for news, views and entertainment but are most commonly seen as a light-hearted medium. Now scientists are beginning to see how GIFs can be used in public engagement with science and in science communication.
GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format and these are small moving pictures or animated computer images inserted into web-chats and discussions. They’ve been around since 1987, but there are actually examples of protogifs that date back to the 19th century.
Most people who spend time online will have come across a GIF at some point, even if we struggle to agree on how the word is pronounced.
There seems to be a spectrum of GIFs. They are used as a kind of extended emoticon to emphasise a point and even as artforms. And whole sites like Vine have sprung up dedicated to GIFs.
But aside from the thousands of GIFs that circulate of people falling down stairs or of cats behaving badly, their use as a way of getting complex scientific information across to a general audience appears to be a growing trend.
The Feb. 11, 2014 article by Brigitte Nerlich, professor of Science, Language, and Society at the University of Nottingham, for The Conversation/UK, which originated the news item, goes on to point the reader to more science GIFS while expanding on Nerlich’s themes: (1) these animations are being used more often and (2) they are a friendly way of reaching out to various audiences who might not otherwise be interested in science.
As Nerlich notes in her article, Joseph Stomberg in a Dec. 24, 2013 article for the Smithsonian Magazine featured “The Coolest Science of 2013, in GIFS.” Here’s Stromberg’s top story (Note Links have been removed):
Top: Dissolving Electronics
Over the past few years, the University of Illinois lab led by John Rogers (one of Smithsonian magazine’s American Ingenuity Award Winners) has engineered all sorts of amazing devices that bridge the gap between biology and technology: stretchable batteries that could be used in wearable gadgets or medical implants, tiny LEDs that can be implanted in the brain to manipulate individual neurons and ultrathin electronics that can graft circuits onto human skin.
Perhaps the most amazing creation, though, is their entirely dissolvable electronic circuit, which could someday be used in environmental monitoring and medical devices so that circuitry disappears after it’s no longer needed.
Here’s the GIF,Fascinating, yes? I encourage you to read Nerlich’s article (on phys.org or on The Conversation/UK) in full and to check out Stomberg’s piece for more GIFs.
I singled out Rogers’ work from the Stromberg piece because his work has been featured here many times including this Jan. 7, 2014 posting about the upcoming American Association for the Advancement of American Science (AAAS) annual meeting being held in Chicago, Illinois from Feb. 13 – 17, 2014,
On Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, nanotechnology features in the final plenary session,
John A. Rogers: Stretchy Electronics That Dissolve in Your Body
Monday, 17 February 2014: 8:30 AM-9:30 AM
Imperial Ballroom (Fairmont Chicago)
Dr. John Rogers’ research includes fundamental and applied aspects of nano- and molecular scale fabrication. He also studies materials and patterning techniques for unusual electronic and photonic devices, with an emphasis on bio-integrated and bio-inspired systems. He received a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005. He has published more than 350 papers and is an inventor on over 80 patents and patent applications, many of which are licensed or in active use by large companies and startups that he co-founded. He previously worked for Bell Laboratories as director of its research program in condensed matter physics. He has received recognition including a MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Lemelson-MIT Prize, the National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Defense, the George Smith Award from IEEE, the Robert Henry Thurston Award from American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Mid-Career Researcher Award from Materials Research Society, the Leo Hendrick Baekeland Award from the American Chemical Society, and the Daniel Drucker Eminent Faculty Award from the University of Illinois.
Speaker: John Rogers, Ph. D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
I searched briefly and unsuccessfully for a site or a posting devoted to ‘nanotechnology’ GIFS. Should you know of such a site or posting please do let me and anyone else reading this post know in the Comments.