Counterfactuals are the best factuals

This is the story of how two things I never thought had anything in common actually helped me.

I'm a science communicator. I think I've earned that title now, after 5 years of giving talks, volunteering with children and writing things that actually get published in reputable magazines. (Okay, I sound better than I actually am, but I have actually done all of those things alongside my studies!)

Recently, I also started writing for a satirical online news outlet. It's still tiny because it started in late April, so it's not famous...yet. I'm also ashamed of how I started writing for it in the first place; it's not because I'm talented, it's because my boyfriend is a co-founder and the sole editor. If the articles I submit are published, it's because he thinks they're funny.

Now, I don't consider myself a particularly funny person, so when I was asked to write an article about black holes being found at the Clinton residences I just sort of stared incredulously at Skype and got to work.

Remarkably, it's a lot easier than I thought! I ended up using a lot of the same skills which I learned writing actual articles - clear explanation of real scientific concepts, editorial style, quotations from scientists involved with the projects and possible future developments.

And puns. So many puns. Seriously, one of my favourite parts of writing the articles is coming up with punny or stupid names for everyone.

It's also given me a chance to let loose. Real scientific practice is often weird and when you have to take everything seriously, it's difficult to reflect that. Humorous writing exaggerates it, but it can sometimes be truer to life; we've probably all felt like our work was futile, like we need a scientific measure of bullshit, or that our calculations look like they're going to become self-aware.

In short, I feel like making things up has made me better at explaining the world around us. It's not something I ever expected - and I never expected to be improving - but I'm happy.

(If you're interested in what we have to say, head over to Terminal Context, the last place you want to go to for your news!)