Science & Society

I admit it: when I sat down with Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, an Assistant Professor in Bioengineering at Stanford University, to discuss a possible rotation project, my first question for him was “why?” I wasn’t confused about why he was studying developmental patterning - that’s what had drawn me into his office in the first place. What confused me was the second path that his young lab was pursuing: biotic games.
It is well known among those who study schizophrenia that speech which does not reflect the true underlying reality produces the kinds of violent and crazy reactions displayed by the assassin of Tucsan. When we can no longer trust that the words our elected representatives, that our public servants, say are true and reflective of their beliefs, a deliberative and representative democracy can no longer function, and it will necessarily devolve into a system where might equals right and violence becomes a preferred means of political expression.

I am acutely aware of my advantages as a tall, white, semi-able-bodied Westerner with middle class background in a northern European culture. I had and still have it much easier than most people especially here in China. Believe me, I am 100% fully aware of how unfair life is, of how much I should not take for granted, and especially of how easy I could have had it, if I had played the usual game with the cards I was dealt. Without my unfair edge, I would not even have been able to dare play my own game.

Is there still gender discrimination in science?    We hear about it even today but is it a real problem or is it primarily a problem in that 'if there is even one instance it is too many' way that zealots insist on zero tolerance, even when applied to individuals who sometimes make decisions based on silly reasons.
Mixed emotions over PZ Myers' condescending response to a 12-year-old child's email supporting creationism[1], reminded of a very interesting conversation I had with my father at a dinner this holiday season. Lemons and lemonade, people.

During our conversational meanderings, we touched on the debate between creationism[2] and evolution. We did not directly discuss the political/social issues surrounding the teaching of evolution in schools[3]. Rather, we discussed the difficulty of convincing individuals that evolution is right and creationism is wrong.<!--more-->
... as depressing as that may be to hear. Some friends recently described their December trip to India, the first time they've visited in years. India's economy is on fire, unleashing some tremendous pent-up economic demand. What was striking, my friends related, was how strongly India's economic development is geared toward the future, towards not only catching up with wealthier, more developed nations, but also towards anticipating and meeting economic challenges that loom in the future. This is in stark contrast to the US, which seems, at best, focused on defending the status quo.
I said there were two things keeping me busy and away from Science 2.0 for the last couple of months. The second thing was my transition to Editor-in-Chief of Technological Forecasting&Social Change, as of January 1.

TFSC is the world’s premier scholarly journal on technology assessment and futures. With its long history and a current download rate of 275,000 articles per year, TFSC also is one of Elsevier’s most widely read international journals.
Are you thinking about majoring in science or engineering?  Want to get into a good college and leap out into a job?  Here's some advice for science-curious students in high school.

As a HS junior, take HS Physics, Biology, or Chemistry-- whichever matches your major.  For engineering or physics or astronomy, HS Physics.  For biology, HS Biology and Chemistry.  For chemistry, HS Chemistry.  For pre-med, heck, take them all.

You should also take any and all Advanced Placements (all topics-- Sci, Math, English). AP gives you free credits, so you can go right into stuff you want and sprinkle your electives more freely during your four years-- or even graduate in 3.5 years.
The Shell and Mantle (a lovely pan-mollusca blog which regularly reminds me that cephalopods have some very cool cousins) kindly sent me a copy of China Miéville's Kraken after I whined about wanting to read it.

I'm only one chapter in, so this is less of a review and more of a public service announcement that, thus far, my two inner geeks are pulling in opposite directions.
When I were a lad (ay!) my father suggested that map projections was something I ought to interest myself in.  So I got hold of paper, ruler and pencil, drew a square grid, and then started filling in the outlines of the continents.  What emerged was something like this (maps like this are generated using this wonderful program from Brazil):



Now that wasn’t too good, was it?  Africa doesn’t look too bad, but Greenland’s horribly squashed, isn’t it?  So I borrowed some books from the library, and started to learn about all sorts of different projections.