Science & Society

Are you thinking about majoring in science or engineering?  Want to get into a good college and leap out into a job?  Here's some advice for science-curious students in high school.

As a HS junior, take HS Physics, Biology, or Chemistry-- whichever matches your major.  For engineering or physics or astronomy, HS Physics.  For biology, HS Biology and Chemistry.  For chemistry, HS Chemistry.  For pre-med, heck, take them all.

You should also take any and all Advanced Placements (all topics-- Sci, Math, English). AP gives you free credits, so you can go right into stuff you want and sprinkle your electives more freely during your four years-- or even graduate in 3.5 years.
The Shell and Mantle (a lovely pan-mollusca blog which regularly reminds me that cephalopods have some very cool cousins) kindly sent me a copy of China Miéville's Kraken after I whined about wanting to read it.

I'm only one chapter in, so this is less of a review and more of a public service announcement that, thus far, my two inner geeks are pulling in opposite directions.
When I were a lad (ay!) my father suggested that map projections was something I ought to interest myself in.  So I got hold of paper, ruler and pencil, drew a square grid, and then started filling in the outlines of the continents.  What emerged was something like this (maps like this are generated using this wonderful program from Brazil):

Now that wasn’t too good, was it?  Africa doesn’t look too bad, but Greenland’s horribly squashed, isn’t it?  So I borrowed some books from the library, and started to learn about all sorts of different projections.
Environmental groups are concerned they have lost the trust of the public regarding global warming so they have taken to new marketing approaches.    They started the last decade with runaway public interest and goodwill and ended it with scandals and black marks on the credibility of the climate field.

"2010 was a banner year for science news and also a good one for Science's news department. This year, our reporting team garnered six awards for stories published in the magazine or online. You can read more about these honors below, and if you want to check out the full stories, we've made them all free with registration. Thanks for your readership—and happy holidays from the news staff at Science."

No Sign Yet of Himalayan Meltdown, Indian Report Finds.

Italian Scientists Provide Food With Thought.

What is the most popular form of Citizen Science?

Some want to make us believe it is SETI@home, 8 year olds being pressured by overenthusiastic teachers, or people in their backyards looking for comets.

The Economist argues, as they would be expected to argue, given their free market leaning, that due to the glut of Ph.D.s and therefore the poor job market (in academia), it is a waste of time.   A Ph.D. who enters the job corporate world for anything except basic research has the wrong set of skills, according to corporate hiring managers, so it is actually better to hire a bachelor's or Masters degree and spend the time in the corporate world.  Numbers bear it out.  While a Ph.D. earns more than a bachelor's degree today the difference between a Ph.D. and a Masters is barely noticeable.
Jonah Lehrer in The New Yorker about the slipperiness of the scientific method:

"The Truth Wears Off: Is There Something Wrong With The Scientific Method?"
The test of replicability, as it’s known, is the foundation of modern research. Replicability is how the community enforces itself. It’s a safeguard for the creep of subjectivity. Most of the time, scientists know what results they want, and that can influence the results they get. The premise of replicability is that the scientific community can correct for these flaws.
Sorry I've been absent for a while. (I hope you missed me!) Here's one thing that's been keeping me busy:
WCSJ 2011

WCSJ 2011

Dec 27 2010 | 3 comment(s)

Some shameful self-propaganda is in order today... Such posts have usually borne good fruits in the past, so why not!