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Have your say by taking part in our reader polls

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By James Dacey

Like many I was initially quite sceptical about the value that social media could add to journalism. To the uninitiated just “dipping their toe” into the likes of Facebook and Twitter it can seem like an unrelenting stream of throwaway remarks. But I’m starting to realize that, used effectively, social media can offer certain things that go beyond traditional journalism. One of the real positives of social media is its ability to break down boundaries and connect with audiences.

Physics World has existed in various social media formats for some time now, and we are keen to explore ways of engaging with readers using social media. One mini project we have tried recently is to run a series of polls on our Facebook page relating to hot topics within the physical sciences. This week we asked about a topic that never fails to provoke opinions: climate change. It is an issue that grabbed the headlines again recently after it emerged that several Australian climate researchers have received death threats on account of their research.

So we asked our Facebook followers if they believe it is realistic to think that the science and politics of climate issues can ever be truly separated. While I was perhaps not surprised by the outcome, I was surprised by its decisiveness as 93% of respondents said “no” – these issues cannot be separated. Of course, it is highly reductionist to boil such a complicated issue down to a simple yes/no response. But that’s why we are encouraging you to offer your comments too when taking part in the poll.

Our latest poll concerns particle physics. The community is geared up for an important few months as the LHC continues to perform well and Fermilab’s Teveatron will close at the end of September after a dazzling career. What we want to know is the following: If the LHC or the Tevatron fail to find the Higgs boson, should the world invest in a new machine to continue the search?

To take part in the poll then go to our fanpage on Facebook. And, as I said, feel free to add a comment to explain your reasons!

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