Science & Society

Not sure how all this works yet, but anyway, I found this nice presentation of world life expectancy and wealth over the last 200 years. The data is interesting in itself, but the presentation is particularly interesting/entertaining.

Anyone who woke up yesterday morning hoping that December 2nd 2010 might be a historic day in the search for extraterrestrial life is likely to be sorely disappointed. All week the hype has been building since the NASA PR machine announced that they were about to release an astrobiology finding that would "impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life." Speculation got a little bit crazy to say the least!

Recently, we featured an article on how new federal money -- funneled through the NOAA -- is being directed to citizen science efforts (read more).

Why scientists should blog is not a new topic to Science 2.0.   In a way, I think we pioneered science blogging(1) because, prior to us, the only science bloggers with any real audience mostly wrote about politics and religion and last year I chaired a panel on science outreach with two columnists here and Mike Eisen, co-founder of PLoS, and Eugenie Scott, founder of the National Center for Science Education and blogging was a key topic on how scientists should increase engagement.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, we tend to start our annual pondering about how we might give more to our friends and family, and maybe even to the world. Citizen scientists--whether they consciously realize it or not--are behaving in a uniquely giving mood with every bird they count, PC time they donate, comet they spot, or galaxy structure they visually identify (among so many more important activities!). The efforts of citizen scientists are a pure form of generosity through the free distribution of knowledge.

OK, I've had just about enough of the stupid statistics being put out by the FDA regarding full body scanners at airports. I'm not sure why everyone is behaving as if such a scan is a singular event in a year.  One hears about how such a small dose compares against the annual safe dosage and yet does it occur to no one that many people fly more than once per year?
I think there is something deeply wrong with our view of science. The word itself, Science (with a capital "S"), sits alongside other monoliths such as Religion, Art, Music, Literature, Politics and so forth that require constant defining just to ensure we're talking about the same thing. The problem with science is that we are taught a myth... and then complain when the myth is incommensurate with reality.

Earlier this month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that $8 million worth of new grant money has been awarded to educational and non-profit institutions across the United States to support programs that connect the public to science appreciation and interactivity.

The NOAA's Environmental Literacy Grant program focuses to enhance informal educational opportunities at museums and through family and teen programs, as well as expand citizen science networks. The funded projects will work to increase the understanding and appreciation of environmental issues of the oceans, coastlines, Great Lakes, and the climate around the globe.

A few weeks ago, The Science Cheerleaders grabbed headlines with their appearance at the USA Science and Engineering Festival, where they cheered for citizen science and science literacy, as well as served to provide a new kind of role model for young girls, showing them they can be both cheerleaders AND scientists.

Following this public appearance, were two very strong reactions. One was overwhelmingly positive. The other was overwhelmingly negative and critical—and a lot of it came from scientists and science bloggers.