Science & Society

The BP oil spill in the Gulf is doing unmeasurable damage to the local economy and ecology of the region.   Are government efforts geared toward making undersea oil extraction safer or cleaning up the damage done?

Not really.   Pres. Obama's BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission instead seems primarily focused on ending America's "addiction to oil" and a disaster like this is a heel-clickingly delightful way to frame the debate to advance that agenda.  
Wilson Tucker’s 1952 The Long Loud Silence is The Road of the 1950’s.

It’s a pure survival story, one about the complete deterioration of society into a vicious, gritty state of no-holds-barred struggle after a nuclear and biological holocaust. Unlike many other post-apocalyptic novelists, Tucker doesn’t envision much society left at all after total destruction: there is no reversion to a pseudo-Native American tribal state, to early rural 19th century agrarianism, to feudalism, to a theocratic dystopia. A total Hobbesian (or Darwinian) state of nature prevails for decades after the catastrophe. Society does not rebuild.

The hardback of The Vision Revolution has been out for one year, and I couldn’t be happier with the reaction it has received, including reviews in fantastic places like the Wall Street Journal and Sciam Mind and mentions in places like the New York Times. Soon it will appear in China, Korea and Germany.

In the year since their 2008 preliminary ranking, Cell Stem Cell and Cell Host and Microbe saw their Impact Factors surge, according to new data released in the 2009 Journal Citation Reports(c) published by ThomsonReuters.   The Impact Factor is a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited in a particular year. The Impact Factor helps to evaluate a journal's relative importance, especially when compared with others in the same field.

In the report released June 17, Cell Stem Cell's rating rose to 23.563 - a growth of 40% from the journal's previous score. Cell Host and Microbe ranks 13.021 - boasting an increase of 75% from the journal's 2008 Impact Factor.

For our 1951 pick, we have the work of one of the great British writers of sci-fi’s Golden Age. In The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham presents a horror story of giant, ambulatory, flesh-eating plants that topple humans from their dominance of a world they thought they had tamed. The theme is common to other post-apocalyptic stories of the 1950’s: we may tame nature with our technological wizardry, but our undoing is our inability to tame ourselves. We take our dominance of the planet for granted - and it wouldn’t take much to find ourselves in a relentlessly hostile world where we have compete as a species with a new top dog.
"What is the meaning of our existence, what is the meaning of existence for all living beings in general? Knowing how to answer such a question means to have religious feelings. You will say, but then sense asking this question. I will respond: anyone who believes his own life and that of his fellows is meaningless is not only unfortunate, but hardly capable of living. " 

Albert Einstein (1879-1955), Religion and Science (1930) (From the collection of lectures and essays, "The World as I See It").

It's no secret social media is big - every marketing group latches on to the latest fad (even us - we gots the Tweetypages, we gots the Faceyspaceys) and people are using it more and more.   But in the recent past, for many the Internet was just another way to get 'traditional' news, preferably for free.
Advocates of good science breathed a sigh of relief when Andrew Wakefield was finally lambasted for questionable methods and shoddy science, basically eliminating the validity of the fundamental text of the 'anti-vaccination' movement outside science circles.

What about another fundamental text inside science circles?  Namely Nepotism and sexism in peer-review, by Christine Wennerås&Agnes Wold (Nature 387, 341-343, 22 May 1997,  doi:10.1038/387341a0 ), who claimed they did not receive Swedish postdoctoral fellowships because of male chauvinism.
Rules for writing can vary from basic grammar principles to austere proverbs like Hemingway's "Write what you know!" In my previous article, I listed the first 12 rules of prose as delineated by freelance journalist (and science writer) Tim Radford. Here are the remaining 13. Enjoy!

13. Words like shallow, facile, glib and slick are not insults to a journalist. The whole point of paying for a newspaper is that you want information that slides down easily and quickly, without footnotes, serial caveats, obscure references and footnotes to footnotes.1
Our 1950 pick is L. Sprague de Camp and P. Schuyler Miller's Genus Homo, a pulp adventure that takes place a million years in the future after after the genus Homo has destroyed itself, leaving the field wide open for other ape species to evolve higher intelligence, science, and technological war. Although Genus Homo was first published in book form in 1950, it was written for the pulp magazine Super Science Stories in 1941, and thus it really counts as a pre-Hiroshima novel. Nevertheless the book makes a clear reference to the possibility of humanity’s destruction by nuclear bombs, putting it firmly in the post-apocalyptic genre.