TL;DR: Here's the One Thing Scientists Want You to Know About Their Fields

(Image credit: Twitter/Live Science)

Octopuses don't have tentacles; their eight appendages are arms. Everything we see around us was forged long ago by the nuclear reactions inside stars. There are more than 200 types of cancer, which means there won't be a single "cure."

These are just a few of the things that researchers in fields ranging from astrophysics to zoology want people to know about their areas of science, according to dozens of responses to the #MyOneScienceTweet hashtag on Twitter.

Dalton Ludwick, a doctoral candidate in entomology at the University of Missouri, started the hashtag on Oct. 27, when he tweeted, "If you could have the entire world know just one thing about your field of study, then what would it be? #MyOneScienceTweet" [Exquisite Corpses: Biologists Share #BestCarcass Photos]

The idea, he told Live Science, came to him while he was walking across campus thinking about what people would say if they had to boil their research down to a single sentence.

"I think a lot of people really have at least one point that they want to get out that they don't really get an opportunity to," whether because they run out of time in an interview or because they primarily communicate with other scientists, Ludwick said.

He said he didn't expect the groundswell of responses.

"Honestly, I didn't think it was going to be a big hashtag," he said. He tallied a few responses on the first day and thought that the hashtag had run its course by the following day, a Saturday. But on Sunday, the responses ramped up again, and on Monday (Oct. 30), the Twitter notifications on his phone went through the roof.

"My phone was not very happy," he said.

Some scientists tweeted out eye-catching facts about animals, plants and microbes.

Ludwick said that even though he knew a little about fungi because of his science background, he was surprised by a tweet stating that some fungi have more than 20,000 sexes.

Some tweets touched upon perennially popular science topics, like dinosaurs and space, while others dealt with more obscure areas of science, or fields that are not always recognized as being part of science, such as linguistics.

A few tweets addressed humans' understanding of themselves.

Other responses dealt with the Earth and the impact people have on it, from disrupted ecosystems to the changing climate.

A few tweeters used the hashtag to vent a little and dispel common myths and misconceptions.

Some scientists opted for a humorous approach.

Others took a broader view, addressing how science works and how it should be inclusive to anyone with curiosity.

Ludwick also scored a Twitter hashtag hit in May, when scientists introduced themselves and their work to television celebrity and science popularizer Bill Nye with the hashtag #BillMeetScienceTwitter. That campaign arose because many scientists lamented that so-called science celebrities often didn't acknowledge the limits of their own knowledge or failed to engage with scientists in the trenches in order to better improve public understanding.

However, through Twitter efforts such as these, scientists can better learn how to do that communication with the public themselves, Ludwick said.

Original article on Live Science.

Andrea Thompson
Live Science Contributor

Andrea Thompson is an associate editor at Scientific American, where she covers sustainability, energy and the environment. Prior to that, she was a senior writer covering climate science at Climate Central and a reporter and editor at Live Science, where she primarily covered Earth science and the environment. She holds a graduate degree in science health and environmental reporting from New York University, as well as a bachelor of science and and masters of science in atmospheric chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology.