Science & Society

I don't consciously seek out the Huffington Post, but two stories on Google News that caught my eye recently happened to be from there. I know how you love that site, Hank. Today's find is on the democratization of science, or the fall of experts from grace - what if we can't trust scientists and science? The article makes some thought-provoking points, whether you agree with all of the content or not.

In particular, I like this paragraph:
Pharmaceutical companies may be financing drug studies in order to influence their outcomes, say researchers writing in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International. The findings confirm the conclusions of two previous reviews published in 2003 which looked at the pharmaceutical industry's influence on research, the authors say.  

Researchers studied 57 publications obtained from a systematic Medline search from November 1, 2002 to December 16, 2009. Selected studies were evaluated by two of the authors. These 57 papers were supplemented by studies found in their references sections.
In the spirit of collaboration between the sciences and religions, two Indian scientists have tuned their laboratory to the sacred mantra, OM. Their paper,"Time-Frequency Analysis of Chanting Sanskrit Divine Sound “OM” Mantra", published in the International Journal of Computer Science and Network Security (IJCSNS) starts in auspicious fashion.
Following a drop in public confidence in climate scientists as a result of the 'Climategate' emails, two hundred fifty-five members of the National Academy of Sciences have joined together to defend the rigor and objectivity of climate science.

Their signed statement, appearing  tomorrow in Science, explains the scientific research process and confirms the fundamental conclusions about climate change based on the work of thousands of scientists worldwide.

The Hurrians (also Khurrites; cuneiform Ḫu-ur-ri ) were a people of the Ancient Near East, who lived in northern Mesopotamia and areas to the immediate east and west, beginning approximately 2500 BC.
Prof. Anne Kilmer ( professor of Assyriology, University of California, and a curator at the Lowie Museum of Anthropology at Berkeley) transcribed one of the oldest known pieces of music notation in the world.
Clay tablets relating to music, containing the cuneiform signs of the "Hurrian" language, had been excavated in the early 1950s at the Syrian city of ancient Ugarit in what is now modern Ras Shamra. 
A new book, just about to be published, has already caused a stir in the blogosphere. “Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think” by Elaine Ecklund, a sociologist from Rice University, claims that scientists are less atheistic than previously thought.

The dustjacket blurb explains:”In the course of her research, Ecklund surveyed nearly 1,700 scientists and interviewed 275 of them. She finds that most of what we believe about the faith lives of elite scientists is wrong. Nearly 50 percent of them are religious. Many others are what she calls “spiritual entrepreneurs,” seeking creative ways to work with the tensions between science and faith outside the constraints of traditional religion…..only a small minority are actively hostile to religion.”
A new study published in PLoS Medicine has found that skepticism about the benefit of the HPV vaccine remains high among parents of adolescent girls.

Even when financial and healthcare barriers are removed, some parents remain hesitant to have their daughters receive the vaccine - the more educated parents are, the less likely it is they will consent, says the new study.  As a result, policymakers must spend more money to ensure that the debate is properly framed.

The authors surveyed parents of sixth-grade girls (age 11) in a publicly funded school-based program in British Columbia, Canada, to determine the level of uptake of the first dose of the HPV vaccine, and to examine the factors involved in their decision to allow receipt of the vaccine.
We had some fantastic articles entered this spring into our Writing Competition open to all university grad students, and we are happy to announce the winners based on the votes entered by YOU - our online audience.

Our grand prize winner was Sena Koleva who told us all about The New Science of Love and Attraction.  You thought you knew what made that special someone attractive to you, and what it meant to fall in love?  You probably only know part of the story.  Sena's article breaks it all down for us, from a scientific perspective.

At M.I.T. the philosopher, critic and essayist Boris Groys, Global Distinguished Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, New York University, in a talk based on his paper, "Religion in the Age of Digital Reproduction", draws freely on such predecessors as Gilles Deleuze, Walter Benjamin, Martin Heidegger and Nietzsche to draw a bead on fundamentalism. 

One thing I learned from my recent trip to DESY was the proper name for a certain type of electrostatic generator[1].  Like many Brits, I had somehow got it into my head that it was called a Van der Graaf, but in fact it was invented by the American physicist Robert Jemison Van de Graaff.  In order to check this out, I went to Dutch Wikipedia and learned that: