ESA, the European Space Agency, is my favorite space organization.

Yeah, I said it. The guy whose favorite movie is "The Right Stuff" and who could write a whole book on the Mercury program prefers the ESA over NASA. The reason is because ESA cares about outreach in a way that NASA doesn't. ESA does not care if you are the BBC or Science 2.0, if you call someone, they call back. If it involves more than a press release claiming it has 'implications for life on other planets' you are going to be stuck in a maze of bureuacracy.
For THE WIRED WORLD IN 2013 annual prognostication issue, predictions for the year by some of the luminaries in science media, I predicted that one of the Big 5 organs would be created.

The benefit is obvious; organs created from a patient's own adult stem cells mean no chance of rejection and no need for expensive immunosuppressive drugs. Science-fiction/ethical scenarios like raising animals or people for 'harvesting' by wealthy elites are off the table because a customized organ could be grown in the lab.
The fifth international school of Science Journalism will be held in the small town of Erice, in Sicily (Italy) between June 9th and 14th. The event is organized by the INFN, and I wish to publicize it here also because I will give a contribution there.

The general theme of the school this years is "The Digital World: Computing, Networks, and Us". From the "About" tab in the conference site:
Goodbye Ohm - Hello Heisenberg

Research reported earlier this month shows that electrical resistance in nanoribbons of epitaxial graphene changes in discrete steps following quantum mechanical principles.


In plain language, electron transport in a new variant of graphene doesn't obey Ohm's law: the resistance of the material is independent of current.  However, unlike the case with a normal conductor where you can stick a multimeter across any two points on a wire and measure the voltage, if you probe this new material you increase the resistance.  Shades of Heisenberg.

The origin of life remains a great mystery in biology. Continental drift has erased most of the record, until all that's left of the first half billion years of evolution are some millimeter sized zircons embedded in later rocks. These can tell us the composition of the early Earth's atmosphere (through pockets of air trapped in the crystals) but not much else. And there is much to discover. The most primitive microbes we know are far too large to be the first living cells, and modern DNA based life is far too complex.

You've probably seen movies of orbital space habs spinning for artificial gravity. But did you know, that nobody has ever tested this to see how it works out in practise? We know that weightlessnes is bad for health, especially long term, with many potentially serious medical issues. But do we need full g, or Mars g, or lunar g to stay healthy? Nobody knows. Can we cope with a spinning hab a few meters across or do we need to think about a huge hab or tether system a couple of hundred meters across or larger? Again nobody knows. 

One of the difficulties of judging the ways of people is the fact that highly intelligent individuals can at the same time be in the grip of a totally cockeyed ideology.  One reads things like this:

Parents who dress their daughters in pink are holding back the economy, says minister

Yesterday I visited a high school in Treviso, a small centre in north-west Italy. The students of the last two years participate in a program called "masterclasses" which includes lessons on particle physics and astrophysics and a visit to the department of Physics in Padova, where they will be taught how to distinguish particle decays using real LHC data.
Ever wonder how Society of Mind came about? Of course you do.

One of the key ideas of Society of Mind [1] is that at some range of abstraction levels, the brain's software is a bunch of asynchronous agents. Agents are simple--but a properly organized society of them results in what we call "mind."


When President Obama took office in 2009, among his first priorities was to cancel the Constellation program, mostly because it had George Bush's name on it, though that was behind a veneer of 'too expensive' and would take too long.