I go for weeks without anything in particular on my calendar. Today, ironically, I have three things happening in DC, starting mid-afternoon: a NASA Tweetup at the headquarters building (featuring astronauts from the final Shuttle mission), a DC science writers tweetup, and ThirstDC.
- So what is ThirstDC? I’ll let one of the founders, Eric Schulze, explain (guest post on Chris Mooney’s blog). In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I will be a featured speaker at the next ThirstDC event (on November 10), so you’ll definitely be hearing more.
- A recently-released iPad app that creates artistic views of exoplanets almost makes me want to buy an iPad. (Well, lack of employment is really what’s holding me back these days, not lack of desire….) Caleb Scharf places the exoplanet app in the fine tradition of scientific illustration: art enhances science in the public eye and makes it more real to non-specialists.
- In this era of ecological nightmares (Gulf oil spill, Fukushima reactor damage, global climate change leading to glacier melting), Alice Bell calls on scientist writers to speak for the trees, in the tradition of the Lorax. Although that’s not all we do (or all we should do), it’s obvious that books like Silent Spring or Last Chance to See have made a profound impression on the public. Note that although Bell admits her own idea is embryonic, it seems to me that science writers can provide a unique perspective from both specific scientific training and their emotional response to the changing world.
- Speaking of emotional responses, Dave Mosher is soliciting stories about how people felt when they first saw iconic images of Earth from space.
- The late great Stephen Jay Gould argued persuasively that debunking is itself positive science. Here’s another perspective, from the excellent webcomic Tree Lobsters.
4 responses to “Thursday, Before the Journey”
Wish I could join in for the ThirstDC and the tweet up at the science club! The ThirstDC thing sounds fabulous. I teach Thursday nights this semester, but hope to meet you at one of these events after December. :)
Yeah, all the events seem to be on Thursdays. I think the next DC Science Tweetup will be on a Friday, though I’ll have to miss that one (for my brother’s wedding, so it’s a little bit more important).
Regarding Alice Bell’s call for scientists to stand up for the environment and against the short-term-profits crowd, I offer the following.
The Alberta Tar Sands fiasco, a veritable Dante’s inferno on Earth, and the cross-USA pipeline that TransCanada is trying to bribe our government into allowing, should represent a line in the sand for scientists who care about the future of this planet.
I note that a group of Nobel-prize winners and well-known scientists have taken a firm stand against this grotesque environmental abuse.
Perhaps this issue could be an archetypal contribution of scientists to the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that is calling for reason and fairness over greed and plutocracy.
Just a thought.
It may be two sides of the same coin. When a Nobel laureate signs a statement of support, it’s lending the weight of their scientific accomplishment to a venture; when a scientist (Nobel laureate or not) writes about ocean acidification, or the struggles of arctic species to survive, or what have you, they’re lending their humanity.