Science & Society

Is Internet expression a fundamental right?   Certainly a subset of the modern generation has  demonstrated an irrational sense of entitlement about free content, to the detriment of media companies that have tried to provide it like the New York Times, but parts of copyrighted material have always been allowed under fair use.    What if court interpretation of fair use has changed?

University of Arkansas law professor Ned Snow says current judicial interpretation of fair use, a 150-year-old doctrine that allows people to use copied material in their speech, has become so constricted that it inhibits speech. 
I wrote about the opening of the World Science Festival 2009 and Edward O. Wilson's 80th birthday at the Lincoln Center in New York City but he was not the only august personage in attendance.  Present to give tribute to him was also molecular biologist, Nobel laureate and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, James Watson.

Some of us don't live in countries with constitutionally secured freedom of speech.  Some of us, a very luck, very few of us are Simon Singh, who also happens to live in a country without a freedom of speech guarantee.  Ok, technically, he lives in geopolitical area under the authority of a state that consists of exactly one 4'6" old lady.
The second World Science Festival kicked off at Lincoln Center in New York City last evening with a birthday tribute to Edward O. Wilson, everyone's favorite ant man, and science fans fron the culture world along with, presumably, science fans from the science world.

What do you think was the high point of E.O. Wilson's 80th birthday celebration?   "Happy Birthday" sung by 200 people in the lobby and the Abyssinian Baptist Church Choir?    A politically incorrect tribute from Nobel laureate James Watson (more on that later)?    Yo-Yo Ma playing the cello or a new Philip Glass composition?   No, though that was all terrific.
The premise behind the pokerbot is simple: there are many, many bad players in online, low-limit poker games, and thus by playing a tight, mistake-free strategy, you will win over time. Unfortunately, because the worst players are in low-limit games and because Joe from Topeka takes his allotted thirty seconds every time he’s confronted with a $0.05 raise, you might make a better hourly wage mowing lawns, flipping burgers, or participating in medical trials, even if you play multiple tables at once (see earlier blog "Internet Poker: By the Numbers").

Enter the pokerbot: instead of doing the drudgery of playing mechanical, low-limit poker yourself, why not use a program to do it for you—better yet, use many programs each taking in a little money at a time.
According to a research abstract presented  at SLEEP 2009, adolescent obesity is associated with having less sleep and eduction in sleep could be related to a higher caffeine intake, more hours of technology use and increased symptoms of sleep disorders such as snoring.

Results indicate that children who slept less consumed more caffeine and had more hours of screen time (use of television, Internet, computer and video games). A higher body mass index (BMI) was also associated with shorter sleep duration. More hours of screen time were also associated with higher caffeine consumption. 
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.