Science & Society

There will be no survivors


Exactly what nuclear world war would look like was a matter of diverse opinion in the nuclear apocalypse novels of the 1950‘s.

Many post-apocalyptic novels of this decade portrayed World War III as an essentially known if more extreme extension of the destructive experience of World War II, much the way that World War II was like World War I jacked up a notch.

Actor Harrison Ford, and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner (and Science 2.0 favorite) Dr. Edward O. Wilson are holding a press conference today at 3:30 in Palo Alto, California, to announce the newly created PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.    I won't be there because the award has nothing at all to do with actual science outreach but I am mentioning it just the same.

The American Chemical Society is not new to disliking New Media - like all businesses, they would like to be self-perpetuating and that means people have to give them money for memberships and get a magazine for free which means getting quality without paying would be very bad for their income.
Lunch Hour Lectures have been running at University College London since 1942.  It's terrific to know that even at the height of World War II, British citizens wanted to learn about the latest science in an informal setting.

Scheduled for today, the first one for the 2010-11 season has (well, had?) professor of genetics Steve Jones on ... incest. 
The National Academies (the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine) announced the recipients of their 2010 Communication Awards today. Part of the Keck Futures Initiative, these awards recognize excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering, and medicine to the general public. With support from the W.M. Keck Foundation, these $20,000 prizes have been awarded since 2003.   This year's winners will be honored during a ceremony on Oct. 22 at the Keck Center in Washington, D.C.

Winners:
Maurice Allais won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1988.  So why is he of interest here?  His Telegraph Obituary is headed:
Maurice Allais, who died on October 9 aged 99, was a Nobel Prize winner who warned against "casino" stockmarket practices that eventually precipitated the current global financial crisis; he also claimed to have disproved Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.
Now to readers of Science 2.0, the last sentence would immediately flag up a nutter alert.
"We're all alone, no chaperone"
--Cole Porter


Despite his resemblance to Santa Claus, Daniel Dennett wants to disillusion the believers.  If we're all adults, why can't we reveal the truth that God(s), like Santa, are childish fantasies?

Earlier tonight I attended Dennett's talk "What should replace religion?" at Tufts University, which was kindly hosted by the Tufts' Freethought Society as part of their Freethought Week.
A Fake Smithsonian Exhibit
The integrity of the Smithsonian Institution hinges on disseminating knowledge in an objective, thorough and fair manner. Like the freedoms that our forefathers included in the First Amendment, the freedom to present information must be a top priority of the Smithsonian. The intrusion of bias or censorship would compromise the ability of the Institution to fulfill its Congressional mandate, and would jeopardize the outstanding reputation the Institution has developed in its 157-year history.

Senator Joe Lieberman, May 20 2003
Publishing is evolving and, of the big publishers (The Lancet, Cell, etc.), no one is more forward-thinking than Elsevier.   

They recently announced Article-Based Publishing, their new way to  publish articles as final (and citable) without needing to wait for the full journal to be complete.  Article-Based Publishing is the assigning of final citation data on an article-by-article basis, separate from production of the journal issue.
What is on the mind of all the physicists all over the world right now? Quantum Gravity? Global warming? No. It is the same that is on the mind of all the other scientists in academia, too. Impact factor (IF)! How can I get my name on a paper into a high IF journal – that is the question. Publish Or Perish – POP science, popular science.