Scientific American editors voted in recent weeks on the 20 most informative Twitter accounts to stay abreast of the latest ideas, issues and developments in science and technology. We weeded through hundreds of lists and feeds to select the most brilliant and engaging, as well as the quirkiest of the bunch.
Our picks are often witty, sometimes eccentric and occasionally silly, but each brings valuable insights to his or her area of expertise. For the latest, greatest tweets on science, technology, journalism, astronomy, physics, mathematics and more, check out these top 20 Twitter accounts of 2013, listed here in alphabetical order.
Pay attention to BBC Science for breaking science and environmental news from a global perspective. Tweets are most often serious, with the occasional story about whether a toilet seat really is the dirtiest item in the house. The BBC offers variety suitable to both the casual consumer and the diehard nerd.
Deborah Blum’s tweets about poison, murder and other interesting articles and quips aren’t all that make her Twitter feed unique. It also stands out for her insights into science journalism. Blum often posts jobs, tips and tricks of the trade that will motivate any aspiring science blogger to break out the laptop and start posting.
By day, Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist. By night he's a "truth vigilante." The Caltech researcher writes lofty pieces about eternity and dark matter, and tweets fascinating facts about his field.
This NASA Twitter account gained notoriety when the car-size rover Curiosity landed on Mars in August 2012. With its witty persona, pop culture references and updates on its forays across the surface of the Red Planet, @MarsCuriosity is a must-follow for 2013—and the rest of its multiyear tour. Also check out the "Curiosity Explorer" badge on Foursquare and watch the rover's New Year's Eve message on YouTube
David Dobbs is an accomplished science journalist who is big on audience engagement in the new media milieu. His Twitter feed is punctuated with responses to readers weighing in on a wide variety of topics, especially cognitive science. Dobbs also tweets sporadically about his personal life and his work for Wired. He's working on his fifth book.
Maryn McKenna, a specialist on food policy, public health and infectious disease, has built and cultivated a dedicated online following. Her tweets and posts are smart, quirky and highly informative. A seasoned science journalist, she uses social media to nerd out on a daily basis, so join in the geeky fun.
Former Scientific American special projects guru Christopher Mims isn't shy. Opinionated and straightforward, the technology and sustainability journalist, now at QuartzNews, stays ahead of the pack. Mims frequently engages with his audience and uses crowd-sourcing to gather material for many of his stories.
Scientific American editors enjoy checking in on Nature News's hard-nosed, clever twitter feed. One might suspect that our favor for it derives from the fact that Scientific American is also part of Nature Publishing Group, but we actually operate as editorially independent units. Follow Nature News especially for investigative reporting on science scandals and international science policy, as well as the latest important biomedical and physics news.
Founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media Tim O'Reilly reports technology trends and comments on advocacy issues. His Twitter feed is dominated by references to Silicon Valley and e-book deals. Follow his tweets for insightful coverage of the technical world.
John Allen Paulos is a PhD with character. He's wearing a bow tie in his profile picture, and his favored emoticon is a winking smiley face. Paulos's tweets can be a tad cryptic for the layperson, but the mathematician has such a great sense of humor that you're sure to laugh out loud at some point—even if you don't quite understand the joke.
Accomplished blogger Phil Plait has just migrated his popular "Bad Astronomy" blog to Slate. The author, skeptic, father and punster primarily covers the ins and outs of the solar system. The best part about Plait's Twitter feed is his daily #BAFact, wherein he throws strange-but-true scraps of science to his curious followers.
Veteran science journalist Paul Raeburn has turned his eye in recent years to good-natured meta-media, covering science reporting itself for the Knight Science Journalism Tracker while also covering reseach on fatherhood. Raeburn takes reporters to task for sloppy thinking, points out inaccuracies and addresses ethical dilemmas. Follow his account just to read the back-and-forth between him and his targets.
Andy Revkin is a leader in the environmental reporting field, covering everything from fracking to global warming. Check out Revkin's DotEarth blog in The New York Times too for his breaking news coverage—it's all the environmental news that's fit to cover.
Science Friday, part of National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation radio program, packs its Twitter feed with tantalizing links that just beg to be clicked on. @SciFri looks at daily news through a scientific lens, including live tweets to provide context during the weekly broadcast. The result is an entertaining bundle of scientific discoveries, intrigues and debunkings.
Scientific American's contributors are a brilliant group of reporters, bloggers and commentators, if you'll pardon this moment of pride. Creativity, skepticism and authoritative context are a big part of what makes our coverage so engaging and worthwhile. Check out this Twitter list and follow your favorites.
Nate Silver, the most celebrated political statistician of the 2012 election, started out as a forecaster of baseball player performance. When he turned his attention to U.S. presidential elections, using statistical models to accurately predict what was thought to be unpredictable, he became a sensation. Although this past year’s electoral frenzy is behind us, Silver is still at work making predictions we'd be foolish to ignore.
Steven Strogatz holds the esteem of math wunderkinds as well as those who are iffy on formulas. He's hardly a typical numbers-cruncher. The Cornell University professor has a knack for taking on complex topics and making them interesting, even to full-on mathphobes. In his recent book, The Joy of X, discussions range from the number of people one should date before settling down to how HBO's The Sopranos can help us understand calculus. His Twitter account is similarly entertaining.
Not following Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Twitter? Beware: science nerds who don't wake up each morning to the rational witticisms of NGT in their feed risk losing all geek cred. If you fit this description, please remedy that situation—now.
Blogger Ed Yong diligantly weaves a love of data into his prose, while still managing to craft posts that are accessible to readers with little to no science background. By covering new findings skeptically and tweeting prolifically, he has built a readership that relies on him for science news. Join the club.
A self-described "champion of underappreciated life-forms," Carl Zimmer tends to tackle stories about parasites, viruses and quantum earthworms. Follow his feed, probably the most followed of any science writer, for solid reporting and captivating writing.