Science & Society

You are an idea-monger. Science, art, technology – it doesn’t matter which. What matters is that you’re all about the idea. You live for it. You’re the one who wakes your spouse at 3 AM to describe your new inspiration. You’re the person who suddenly veers the car to the shoulder to scribble some thoughts on the back of an unpaid parking ticket. You’re the one who, during your wedding speech, interrupts yourself to say, “Hey, I just thought of something neat.” You’re not merely interested in science, art or technology – you want to be part of the story of these broad communities.

Written two years after the catastrophic destruction of World War II ended with the initiation of the nuclear age, Aldous Huxley's Ape and Essence is a graphically violent, sexually explicit, and surrealistic expression of Huxley’s bitter disappointment in humanity.
The Science Of Fiction

Tip of the hat to Eric Diaz for reminding me of the muse.


Long before writing was invented, amazing stories were told through the medium of the ballad and the saga.  Those old tall tales and modern science fiction often have a few common themes - ethics,  morality, gadgets and heroic deeds.  Gadgets run the full gamut  - from the bag of wind used by Odysseus to fill his ship's sails, to the talking computers and planet busters in movies.

Science 2.0 is Openness and transparency.  Those buzz words mean open* access to both reading and publishing and sharing ones opinion on what is published.  Transparency means a process where any editorial decisions that are made are based on known written criteria which are the minimum to keep a science 2.0 website/journal free of spam and pornography.  The only question is how open and how transparent?  In my opinion the answer is that science 2.0 has to be open to everyone who is interested in practicing science.  There should be no initial litmus test based on educational attainment, employment status, reputation, or any other such traditional criteria.  

Before I go on examples of websites that look like science 2.0 but are not quite there yet. 
In the latest issue of Science, one of the outstanding contemporary philosophers of science, Philip Kitcher, in a review of books on global warming, offers this excellent bit of wisdom on science and democracy:
Moncktonian Climatology

Christopher Monckton presents himself as an expert on climate.

Since he is an expert on climate, it follows that we should all trust and believe him when he says that there is no problem with the Arctic sea ice.
"Arctic ice extent is just fine: steady for a decade"

Christopher Walter Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley.

My dear, if you find science confusing, you should try politics!

Margaret Thatcher, to President of the Royal Society, March 1990



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The End of the World as Farce

Our road to The Road begins in 1947, with Ward Moore's Greener Than You Think, an apocalyptic comic satire that just cries out for a movie adaptation by Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
3 Quarks Daily is a 'filter blog' that compiles stuff from around the web on a daily basis, in science, design, literature, current affairs, art, and anything else they deem inherently fascinating.

They say the name derives from that moment in 1964 when Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig postulated the existence of three new subatomic particles and Gell-Mann decided to name them "quarks", an unusual word meaning "croak" or "caw" which James Joyce had used in Finnegans Wake: "Three quarks for Muster Mark!" 
"The Year Of (insert your favorite cause here)" is usually driven by marketing departments and often to correspond to some sort of milestone.   2009 was "The Year of..." both Galileo and Darwin, for example, though no one seemed to find a way to bring either to mainstream popularity and make a buck.  

What about 2010?    Sure, the UN declared 2010 the 'International Year of Biodiversity' but, like most things the UN is involved in, it cost a lot of money and doesn't actually do anything.    Outside science, 2010 is the Year of the Nurse.   Everyone likes nurses.


"No one should approach the temple of science with the soul of a money changer." 

Thomas Browne (1605-1682)



"There are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you've made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you've made a discovery."