Science & Society

Researchers from North Carolina State University are making an attempt to help academia lose its "ivory tower" reputation by connecting students to their local communities.

The new research project lays out guidelines that can be used to develop and implement partnerships between academics and local communities to foster research efforts that address social problems.
Albert Laszlo Barabasi is a scientist who has long been studying networks and self-organization, and he's got a new book coming out: Bursts: The Hidden Patterns Behind Everything We Do

He's setup an online experiment in networking, based on some of the ideas in the book, and he's looking for people to join:
One of my top 5 favorite TED talks from TED 2010, Michael Specter speaks about how society needs to embrace science. We shouldn't place more importance on ideology than scientific data, on politics over common sense. When we fight scientific progress because of our ideological wars, we run the risk of sending our world back into the dark ages, before we had any control over disease or famine.

We can solve some of these problems now, if only we would let science be the unbiased method of innovation and progress to generate real solutions, instead of fighting it every step of the way.
63 Years Old Solo Balloonist Reaches North Pole

Jean-Louis Etienne has made the first solo balloon voyage to the North Pole, traveling 3,130 kilometers - 1,945 miles - in five days from Norway to the tundra of eastern Siberia.

Jean-Louis Etienne has always liked rising to new challenges, especially when they combine adventure and scientific objectives. Adventures are the stuff that dreams are made of. They reveal a new way of looking at things, especially to young people, and can be a very effective means to convey scientific knowledge that in other forms sometimes falls on unreceptive ears.

If you live in London, then you could do worse than join a Westminster Skeptics night out getting paralytic about science.

Westminster Skeptics promote an evidence-based approach and critical thinking in the areas of policy, media, and legal reform. They have packed and lively meetings once or twice a month in a big pub in Westminster, just by St James Tube station.

Decisive Advantage by Chris Potter in the Pittsburgh City Paper.

If I had a kid who might want to go into research for a living, I'd want them to read this story. It gives some insight into what is actually involved in doing research, even though it avoids the frustrating parts of the job.
(I recently discovered this series of entries about fixing science journalism, begun in February.  Because I just joined up, I wasn't able to add my two cents.  So I thought I'd add it now, since, hey, who couldn't use two cents?  My apologies if I repeat someone else's sentiment.)

The New York Times recently published an article about bias against women and minorities in science fields (and schooling). I’ve written about this before, in my regular blog, and that was about a study from 2004. We’re not getting much better at this — or, if we are, it’s not fast enough.

The United States and Russia are scheduled to sign a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) this Thursday in Prague. The previous treaty expired on 5 December 2009, making the absence of any treaty potentially more dangerous than signing one designed to be little more than face-saving. The Russians see it as a return to superpower status; the Americans have left open their development of a missile defence shield, thereby handing the Russians a reason to rip up the whole deal. We're back to the good old days!
Any time a 'best science sites' list is created by someone outside the usual self-congratulatory, self-indulgent clique it's worth taking a look, namely because in this instance I found 5 terrific sites I had never heard of before.  I won't say who they are here because I don't want to play favorites but you may find one or two new ones also.