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Monday, September 15, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 48.0° F  Fair
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Follow Friday with Deborah Blum: @deborahblum
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Deborah Blum @deborahblum

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Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist who writes about chickens, murder, chemistry and more. Fascinating, fun, intelligent and witty.

Recent tweets:

Wow: Toxic waste disaster in Hungary, town flooded, people dead, Danube threatened http://nyti.ms/dsHojk

My latest post on parenting and the periodic table: Periodically Crazy http://bit.ly/b5DNS7 #chemistry #plogs

My guest post for the Guardian! RT @guardianscience Criminal science was not always CSI-style teamwork http://bit.ly/cHKQ09

Science writing has really changed in the past twenty years. A new market exists now: science for the layperson. Books like Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach and The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum, make forensics, chemistry, and medicine accessible to the everyday reader.

Science journalist Blum lives in Madison and is a journalism professor at the UW-Madison. She won the Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting in 1992 while working at the Sacramento Bee. She was profiled in an Isthmus cover story published last February, and was interviewed in advance of the 2006 Wisconsin Book Festival. She defines Twitter "as a community. I've built friendships on Twitter, read a lot of wonderful articles that I would have missed, caught news issues early, exchanged ideas. I've spread the word about other people's work and others have promoted mine."

Blum signed up for Twitter about a year and a half ago, but it wasn't until last October that she became really addicted. She mostly uses the service professionally, to pass along interesting science stories. She tweets her posts on Speakeasy Science, a blog that gives her another avenue to reach potential readers.

As Blum is a science writer, she's very careful to only tweet links to solid science. Early on in her Twitter use, she tweeted a link to a paper that was not well-researched and got a lot of flak for it and learned a lesson about passing on links.

She also recognizes that a lot of Twitter is creating a personality. She cites Ed Yong (@edyong209), of the science blog Not Exactly Rocket Science, as someone who has developed an online persona.

"He's funny, profane, caustic, smart," says Blum. "I love to read his tweets. Mine tend to be more about things I just find fascinating, although as I write this, I'd like to be Ed Yong when I grow up."

Blum experienced the journalistic power of Twitter when she started seeing posts and comments on Twitter about the cult-like promotion of Miracle Mineral Supplement. It turned out that the primary ingredient of the "health supplement" was bleach. Blum wrote a post on her blog to add weight to the story; she never would have known about it had she not seen it on Twitter.

"It's such a fantastic way to find different ideas and viewpoints on science," she says. "A kind of science democracy. Also, it's a forum for the international community of science bloggers, where some of the best science journalism is done these days."

Why should Madisonians follow Deborah Blum on Twitter?

"Well, of course, I'm incredibly interesting," she jokes. "But also I think I provide a pretty good window into some of the ideas circulating about science, science communication, journalism and writing."

Follow Deborah Blum on Twitter at @deborahblum.

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