Explaining your research in six seconds is hard.

That’s one of my takeaways from the AAAS conference in Boston, where ScienceNow challenged scientists to explain their research within the time constraints of a Vine video. Here’s my attempt:

With hindsight, I can see that I was trying to give the best answer I could. I tried to come up with the most concise, succinct, yet still accurate summary of the concept of magnetic star–planet interaction within the time constraint of six seconds. But as I watched the others, I think I had it backwards: to me, the best ones came from researchers who gave the questions that they are trying to answer. In comparison, mine seems oddly specific, out of context, and a still-confusing explanation of an unmotivated problem.

Here are some of my favorites, which are far more compelling than mine:

I love how it lulls you into a state of confusion with the initial phrase, “We’re trying to make a square…” (Huh? A square?) Then there’s a tiny dramatic beat, and the punch line: “…that rolls across the ground with the same energy loss as a wheel.” (Whaaaa?!) This is one that immediately draws me in and makes me want to find out more.

Here’s another:

Not only does Luna clearly explain the scientific problem to be solved, he also slips in what keeps him going at it—it’s beautiful. A great answer.

And this one seems to have just the right amount of snark for Twitter:

A hook, a motivation, and humor—three things I’ll keep in mind the next time I only have six seconds to make an impression.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s