How does your brain know when to talk? Can you forget your mother tongue? And why is swearing so #@$&!% great? These are typical questions that we all could be asking ourselves at some from time to time. At Donders Wonders we provide answers in simple language that everyone can understand – By Roeland Segeren
Twice a week, lively young researchers at the Donders Institute publish a blog on the website donderswonders.nl. These blogs are also posted on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter in order to reach a wider audience. Additionally, the articles gain extra attention at the Radboud University news channel Radboud Recharge and at the websites of news agencies De Gelderlander and AD. Via all these platforms combined, thousands of readers now learn that you can indeed largely loose your mother tongue. And that swearing has several physical and mental advantages.
Each blog is written in a sort of fact-checking format, related to the broad field of the Donders Institute: neuroscience. The conclusions are always backed by science. Not just science done at the Donders Institute – they are based on science from any reputable source the researchers can find. Links provide readers with options for further exploration of the topics. However, the blog itself avoids complex scientific language as much as possible. As a result, high school students often use the blog posts as the starting point for projects and essays. Students regularly approach the Donders Institute with requests for interviews or additional information on topics tackled in the blogs.
Over the years, the blogs have evolved to become a tool for entertaining young prospective scientists; the topics make them wiser, awaken their interest in science and inspire them to go into science themselves. Additionally, the blog tickles curiosity of the general public and sometimes provides a surprising angle on current news items. The blog team, which operates within the Donders Institute as an independent unit, consists of bloggers, translators, editors and a supervisor. This unique, independent position guarantees freedom in the choice of topics. The blog is thus unaffected by promotional targets or other goals. What’s more, the workflow avoids the risk of blogging from a single perspective. Every blog is checked by a ‘buddy’ and then edited by a third set of eyes. Finally, the blogs are published simultaneously in English and Dutch.