6 Bots That Deliver Science and Serendipity on Twitter

“It’s striking how often people tweet encouraging, nice things at the plant about how shiny its leaves are or how fast it’s growing,” wrote Ms. He, a programmer and artist, in an email. “I think I’ve discovered that a humbly tweeting plant is actually the secret to world peace (or at least kindness on Twitter).”


This bot tweets descriptions of emergency room visits from a government database that tracks about 100 hospitals across the United States.

Its parent, Keith Collins, a reporter at Quartz, emailed that he didn’t expect to laugh out loud when he first looked at the data. But most of the injuries are minor, he said, and there’s something about the way they’re written in the “pithy style of a rushed E.R. doctor.” Noticing a glut of entries about patients who punched walls, he charted the age distribution of wall-punchers and found that 15-year-olds were most prolific.

Many of the bot’s retweets come with comments like “same” or “it’s me,” he said. It “gives us a chance to laugh at ourselves.”


Each tweet from @birdcolourbot is a bird name followed by a swath of colors resembling a paint chip. Each band’s width is determined by the probability of a given bird of that species being that hue.

“I’m red-green colorblind, so I’m interested in color perception and how different people see birds (or anything really),” emailed David L. Miller, the bot’s creator and a statistician with affiliations at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.


Also dedicated to winged creatures, this bot tweets make-believe moths of all shapes, sizes, textures and iridescent colors. It’s programmed to generate variations in several anatomical structures of real moths, including antennas, wing shapes and wing markings.

Another program, which splices and recombines real Latin and English moth names, generates monikers for the moths. You can also reply to the account with name suggestions, and it will generate a corresponding moth.

Inspired by naturalist illustrations, such as those of Ernst Haeckel, the programmers designed their bot to create moths stroke by stroke,…

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