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Friday 14 June 2013

A year of unanswered questions (and that's a good thing)

We’ve been adding regular posts to this blog for exactly one year this month. Last June our very first intern, Jon started with us through our partnership with SEPnet, and a year on we have another two new interns with us for the summer through them. We still have our two chemistry students at the moment (Freya and Lucy), and last but not least we've been joined by a business and marketing intern via the Sheffield Business School.

The year in numbers:
  • 40 blog posts
  • 16 guest posts, including researchers from the UK, US, the Netherlands, Mexico, and Belgium
  • over 24,000 visits to the blog
  • almost 11,000 unique visitors
  • our site is being read for 1 out of every 3 minutes
  • interviewed by start something and GDI Impuls
  • stage appearances in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland as part of the Freischwimmer arts festival and Aarau Democracy Days
  • we've never paid to advertise our blog

TWDK blog stats 2012-2013
Month by month, our audience has grown at an increasing rate

Our interns this summer will be writing occasional articles for us over the summer alongside our guest bloggers from around the world, but before then they’d like to introduce themselves. First up is Cait, who’s a third year at the University of Southampton studying Physics and Space Science.

Physicist Cait Percy working for TWDK. Photo by TWDK, all rights reserved.
Cait Percy in our London office. Photo ©TWDK.
Hi everyone! I'm Cait and I'll be here until the end of July as a researcher and maybe doing some other bits and bobs around the place while I'm at it. Originally inspired by the star filled skies of South West Wales, I've just finished my third year at the University of Southampton studying Physics with Space Science. 

When not studying I love throwing myself at science outreach and inspiring adults and children alike through exciting experiments, tours of the night sky in the University of Southampton's mobile planetarium and launching teddy bears on high altitude balloons! This year, I was looking for a different type of experience from doing space systems design last summer and so was interested in finding a new way to communicate my enthusiasm for science. 

I came across the opportunity at TWDK and it seemed perfect. I think that good quality science communication is so important and the idea behind TWDK sounded interesting. Talking about the many unanswered questions and drawing attention to what science is doing rather than what science has done is what engages people and what can bring science into everyday conversation.

My astronomy interests generally lie within our Solar System so that's where I've started this week. Research lines I've followed so far have led me to Europa's surface and the water underneath, what Mars is made of, the aurora borealis (better known as the “Northern Lights”) and to the Sun, to its’ steady presence and how much we really still don't know about it. 

Next week, I’ll be talking to researchers at the University of Southampton to get some first hand thoughts on the questions that fuel their research while still wandering around the universe looking for the hidden questions whose answers are still eluding us.

Our second intern, also from Southampton University is Johanna.

Physicist Johanna Blee working at TWDK. Photo by TWDK, all rights reserved.
Johanna Blee in our London office. Photo ©TWDK.
Hi, I’m Johanna and I’m currently a physics student at Southampton University. In my spare time I also write for our student magazine, The Wessex scene, and I’m very excited to have recently taken over as their science and environment editor. 

As soon as I found out about Things We Don’t Know I was interested in the company and the idea behind what they do, so I was very pleased to be given the chance to work as their intern. The fact that Things We Don’t Know focuses on where we currently are in science will make it a really interesting experience, and it will be amazing to be a part of the team adding "unknowns" to their database.

I have begun by having a go at researching and submitting questions and found that I barely knew where to begin as there was so much choice. I soon found that once I got going one question led into another. I now have quite a few brainstorms and ideas of areas I'd like to investigate in the next week. For example I have been looking into different AGN species, time and dimensions, artificial intelligence and emotions, and also some questions into the limits of life.

This morning I also began writing descriptions to use on the website for different subsections of physics. I started with biophysics which ended with me very interested in learning more about the work of the biophysics researchers here in Southampton and I've now made contact with them. Fingers crossed over the next week I will get to interview some of them.

And last but not least we have another Johanna with us for the summer:

Business and Marketing itnern Johanna Freytag working at TWDK. Photo by Johanna Freytag.
Johanna Freytag - not in our London office.
Photo ©Johanna Freytag
I’m Johanna, currently a student at Sheffield Hallam University studying Business and Marketing. I'll be working with the TWDK management team on a range of topics covering all aspects of marketing administration and business development activities. 

I have always had an interest in science; especially astronomy and psychological studies. During this summer placement I hope to develop my scientific knowledge within the fantastic team they have built around them as well as gaining invaluable insight into the way they work. TWDK breaks down the ‘jargon’ into deliverable knowledge - personally it has put the ‘fun’ back into my science interest!

My aim is to learn and grow with the TWDK team, and to make a very real contribution to this startup company. I'm hoping to enhance my skill set within marketing, administration, design and social media in particular. My other interests include sports, digital media and travelling.

We’d like to say a big thank you to the Sheffield Business School and SEPnet for helping to support us and the interns throughout their placements. We’re getting three enthusiastic people to help interview researchers and fill our database; and they’re getting some great experience to develop their employability and enterprise skills as part of their degree.
Now you know who they are, look out for blogs from each of our interns over the coming weeks. If you want to make sure you don't miss any posts from us sign up to receive our monthly newsletter by entering your email address here.

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