The Building Blocks of Science Writing - Introductory Workshop

42/3-002 (CERN)



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Tasneem Z. Husain, Isabel Trigger (TRIUMF (CA)), Marco Delmastro (CNRS/IN2P3 LAPP), Claire Adam Bourdarios (Laboratoire de l'Accelerateur Lineaire (FR))

SUMMARY: This workshop is designed to show physicists how to write for a lay audience in a manner that not only informs and explains, but also encourages readers to establish a relationship with ideas, thus promoting a public engagement with science.

OVERVIEW: Particle physics proceeds according to an underlying logic: we study the building blocks of the universe, probing individual particles and studying the ways in which they influence each other, because we believe that even an entity as vast and varied as our physical universe can be understood in terms of its elemental constituents and their interactions.

Geared towards particle physicists, these workshops take a similar approach to the universe of science writing. By deconstructing passages, culled from a wide range of sources, participants will attempt to identify the components of effective science writing, study them individually, and examine how they interact. Through discussions and a series of exercises, participants will learn how to incorporate these elements into their own writing, be it long or short, blog or book.

Two workshops have been designed, to cater to writers at different levels. The enrollment in both workshops will be capped, to ensure that a participative, interactive, experience remains possible.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: the workshop will be conducted by Tasneem Zehra Husain, a theoretical physicist and the author of Only The Longest Threads. Tasneem has written numerous articles for newspapers and magazines, both in print and online, has contributed to various anthologies of science writing for adults and children, and is a regular columnist for the highly acclaimed blog Tasneem has taught science writing to a wide range of audiences at literary conferences, book festivals, science festivals, in schools, as well as a recurring course at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education.


THE INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP: is best suited for scientists who have limited experience reaching out to a non-technical audience. We begin by discussing the academic style familiar to us all; why doesn’t it carry over into popular writing? What is it missing? Where does it fail? Using illustrative excerpts from great science writing, we compile a list of ways in which these issues can be addressed. In the process, we will examine the role of emotion in conveying ideas, discuss how to cultivate curiosity, and learn about the importance of creating context. Participants will leave armed with various techniques that can be used to enliven their writing and make public communication more effective.

This workshop is open to everyone at CERN, although priority will be given to ATLAS collaboration members. Registration is by email to

Maximum number of participants: 25

Videoconference Rooms
ATLAS outreach open workshop on science writing
Claire Adam Bourdarios
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    • 09:00 11:00
      Part 1 : in meeting room 2h
    • 11:00 12:00
      Part 2: around tables in the building 40 lobby 1h
    • 09:00 11:00
      Part 3: in meeting room 2h
    • 11:00 12:00
      Part 4: around tables in the building 40 lobby 1h