Science & Society

Forget the Higgs Boson, the Landing on Comets, Missions to Mars, the Genome Project, Nanostructures and all that. This start of this new millennium looks like the dark ages to me if I have to gauge it from discussions I overhear in public places. 
In the first decade of the the new millennium, there was a lot of hand-wringing about the cutting of science journalism jobs at mainstream news outlets. The groundswell of support was...okay, it was nonexistent, really just limited to science journalists. No one else cared.

Black holes aren’t black. Warner Bros.

By Alasdair Richmond, University of Edinburgh

Note: this article has spoilers.

In Interstellar’s near-ish future, our climate has failed catastrophically, crops die in vast blights and America is a barely-habitable dustbowl. Little education beyond farming methods is tolerated and students are taught that the Apollo landings were Cold War propaganda hoaxes.

The Inamori Foundation has awarded the 2014 Kyoto Prizes to biomedical engineer Dr. Robert Langer in medicine, theoretical physicist Professor Edward Witten in math, and Fukumi Shimura in the Arts. Each laureate received a diploma, a 20-karat gold Kyoto Prize medal and a cash gift of 50 million yen (approximately US $450,000) in recognition of lifelong contributions to society.  

Sunglasses are the first line of defense for celebrities. Marie Havens/Shutterstock

By Vanessa Brown, Nottingham Trent University

What is the best way to learn a dance sequence?

Professional dancers make it look easy. A choreographer rattles off a long list of moves, kicks and turns and the dancers somehow remember it all. But what about the rest of us who will be hitting the club this weekend?

Researchers from Bielefeld University and the Palucca University of Dance in Dresden are here to help. They  researched whether dancers learn a dance sequence better by seeing or by listening, that is, if a dance instructor first demonstrates the sequence, or if he or she first gives a spoken explanation.

Do stores that carry cigarettes create new smokers or do they carry cigarettes because their customers smoke? Would a nexus of comic book stores create more comic book readers? Will that work with broccoli?

A new geography paper matches smoking to store locations that carry cigarettes and correlates the two, suggesting that teenagers are much more likely to take up smoking if they live in neighborhoods with a large number of shops that sell tobacco products.

Brand Beckham. Dave Thompson/PA Wire

By Tamara Friedrich, University of Warwick

Victoria Beckham has been named Entrepreneur of the Year by Management Today. She topped their list of 100 successful entrepreneurs thanks to her fashion company’s turnover, which has grown from £1m to £30m in the past five years, and its employment growth, which has grown from three members of staff to 100 in the same time.