Science & Society

From the front page of an operational circular of the CERN laboratories:

In the interest of readability, this circular has been drafted using the masculine gender only. However, use of the masculine gender should be understood to refer to both sexes. The provisions of the circular therefore apply to both men and women except where it is clear from the context that they concern one sex or the other exclusively.

The 50th anniversary of C.P. Snow's famous Rede lecture on the "Two Cultures" has been marked this year, around the web and sometimes in real life too, with various symposia and blogfests.  I've personally got nothing to contribute to the debate, but one of my favorite authors has - except he did it 25 years ago, at the 25th anniversary of Snow's lecture.
A few weeks ago, the 13th annual Susan G. Komen Sacramento Race for the Cure was held.    The organization raises money primarily for breast health awareness, screening and support services and a much smaller amount for research so I am always uncertain what 'race for the cure' in their name means but that's marketing.   Raising money to do breast cancer screening doesn't have the sizzle of curing cancer, though most here will note that curing cancer in itself is deceptive.

This year, Science 2.0 did its part by buying t-shirts for a local team and we finally got some pictures.   Men in pink shirts that say "save second base"?   It's the perfect way to raise money.


At most biomedical research conferences, you hear talks filled with published or almost published materials, which is unfortunate, because it's a lost opportunity for colleagues to talk about the problems their confronting with work that's in its early stages.

Some conferences, like the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory conferences, try to get around this problem by having strict confidentiality rules, in an attempt to get scientists to be more open with each other about research that's not quite ready for prime time. The confidentiality policy includes limitations on what reporters can report from these meetings.
TV As Teacher

TV As Teacher

Jun 05 2009 | 9 comment(s)

The media is a powerful teacher of children and adolescents, an editorial in JAMA says. But what are they learning, and how can it be modified? "When children and adolescents spend more time with media than they do in school or in any leisure-time activity except for sleeping, much closer attention should be paid to the influence media has on them."

Editorial author Victor C. Strasburger writes:


The encouragement (or requirement) of diversity sometimes gets labeled reverse racism, under the assumption that encourgaing diversity is only about somehow making up for past injustices by discriminating against today's white men who may never have themselves committed such injustices.

I'm not trying to step into the touchy issue of Supreme Court politics (nor am I arguing that quotas are always a good thing), but I've run across this interesting observation in several contexts recently:

"Participants push themselves to formulate better arguments when they know they will have to justify them."
Chicago O’Hare Incident
Speculation continues about the crash of Air France jetliner flight 447 on its transatlantic journey.  A University of Indianapolis international relations expert says recent events point to the possibility of terrorism.

Although there have been no claims of responsibility or specific indications of sabotage, the disappearance of a large airliner without warning is extremely rare and investigators say no potential causes have been ruled out. Today, aviation authorities revealed another Air France flight from Buenos Aires to Paris was grounded temporarily May 27 because of a telephoned bomb threat.
In these days of jaw-dropping trillion-dollar budgets and deficits along with current retirement obligations 7X the size of our economy, $6.3 billion may not sound like much.  But, hey, a billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you are talking about real money.  

$6.3 billion what the United States potentially could save on each group of adolescents who enter foster care every year - and get better results.

An indignant letter in this month's Chemistry World has drawn my attention to a forthcoming ban on the use of dichloromethane, except by the most professional of professionals. EU sidesteps Reach to ban paint stripping solvent goes the relevant article, Reach being an acronym for Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals.