Science & Society

Last night we attended the "Science of Fine Wines" event in support of the Sacramento Discovery Science&Space Museum.

This was, as you can imagine, not a hard science event.   The Museum itself is devoted primarily to helping kids understand science and the attendees were primarily there to drink wine.   But when we talked to them about it a 'science of cheese' portion made sense because it lent itself to a hands-on lab.
MIT has this cool project/art exhibit going on called Metropath(ologies) dealing with "the social potential of new communication technologies.

One of the "exhibits" is Personas:
The Pacific Region of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, "the world's largest general scientific society") includes some of the best universities in the world, located on the Pacific coast of the US. So it was with great excitement that I flew out to San Francisco to attend the 90th Pacific Regional Meeting of the AAAS at San Francisco State University (SFSU), where I was slated to give a talk on science blogging.
A behind the scenes, true account of events leading up to the
Carl Zimmer, whilst teaching a course on science writing, has channeled his inner William Strunk, Jr. and published a list of scientific jargon that should not be used, with particular emphasis on the bugbear of utilize
If you talk to them face-to-face, they will never say, “I utilized my spear gun.” But somehow they can’t avoid using utilize when they are writing, when use will do just fine.
From the essential Strunk and White, The Elements of Style, 4th Ed.:
Utilize.  Prefer use. (p. 63)
Bernie Madoff recently got a jail sentence for promising a huge return on investment in defiance of common sense.

New research published by scientists from the UK's National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) in the Bulletin for the American Meteorological Society shows they apparently don't follow the American press because they say that investments made now can lead to as much as 10-20% improvement in climate predictions for the UK and Europe in the coming decades - and up to 20% across the rest of the globe. 
A few days ago a local skeptic group here in Brooklyn organized a roundtable discussion on the concept of the paranormal. We thought this was going to be a chat about what people mean by that term, how one goes about investigating alleged cases of paranormal happenings, and so on.

We were in for a surprise. Turns out that a couple of real believers in the ghosts and the afterlife showed up, a somewhat rare opportunity to sit down with “the other side” and have a probing conversation to find out about what brings people to believe weird things.
Last week we revealed the Top 10 Schools for Science based on the results of a 3-year study performed by US News&World Report. The study ranked the nation’s best science graduate programs, based upon the results of surveys sent to academics in Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Science, Mathematics, and Physics.

So who came out on top? Several universities had a strong showing in one particular science specialty, but the top schools demonstrated high performance in multiple disciplines. Which schools scored the highest across all specialties? Here are the Top 10:

1.    Stanford University
The UK Government, in its Digital Britain report in June, made a commitment that every home in the UK should have broadband access by 2012. A range of technologies, including wireless, will be used to deliver the basic broadband.

But the same government and its laws aimed at tackling illegal use of wireless internet connections are making broadband access impossible, according to research published today.

Daithí Mac Síthigh, a lecturer in IT and internet law at the University of East Anglia (UEA), says legislation may not be the most appropriate way to regulate 'wi-fi' sharing, where a network is used by more than one person, and needs clarifying so it does not hold back provision of community wifi schemes. 
I'm in the midst of 2 proposals right now (one satellite, one book), so I decided to take a break to share two web cartoons about science.  One is from Cowbirds in Love, the other from Abstruse Goose.  At one point I had a clever essay to go with the latter, but then someone forwarded the link to all our friends so it's already 'broken embargo' and removed the novelty.  Instead of adding comments, then, I'll just give you the pretty pictures.


Science: If you ain't pissing people off, you ain't doin' it right.