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Front Page » Table of Contents » Science & Math

By Danielle Lee on November 17, 2010

The United States is ranked 35th in Math and 29th in Science. Other nations such as China, Finland, Australia, and Japan outrank us. Think about it, what are the things we love in this society? Our technologies - tech gadgets, televisions, high performing cars, digital communication, digital music, green technologies, convenience foods, all the conveniences of life. Have you ever stop to think about the minds that go into making these technologies? These industries are beyond lucrative. Those who work in those industries, whether on the creative side, innovation and improvement side, manufacturing and distribution side, or marketing and selling side - individuals who work in these industries earn good livings. Our society is moving ever-more rapidly to innovation. So if you wanted to be on board this very fast moving train, you would have to be ready for it.

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By Bob Hooper on October 12, 2010

Dr. Robert Musil held his hand palm down, just over knee high. "This is where global warming ranks in today's political dialog.." He brought his hand head high. "What's here?" From the 50 people gathered at Cafe Semolino in Hays, Kansas, last month came the quick response: "Jobs! The economy."

Speaking without a script, Musil sometimes rambled. But his three-part thesis was clear: (1) global warming is an international concern (2) ordinary citizens should not be sideline spectators, but demand timely progress (3) success requires persistence. Don't give up.

For Musil the fact of global warming is just that--a fact. No show of hands, but I'm guessing those present were mostly in agreement. A handful of students, surely there for extra-credit, got glassy-eyed at times. Too low-tech, I suppose.

The focus soon sharpened to what efficiency might accomplish: turning thermostats down, swapping out incandescent bulbs, remembering to switch off the lights or turn off the TV when nobody's in the room. A gentleman perched on a stool toward the back spoke up. Eating less meat, he said, would reduce demand on fossil fuel. Fattening livestock is not fossil fuel efficient. There were some grimaces and squirms at shorting ourselves on t-bones, or even burgers. Surely some cattle ranchers were present, too. Americans not only like their creature comforts but generally feel entitled.

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By Bob Hooper on August 11, 2010

"He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine, 1737-1809

On July 29, I listened to Brown University biology professor and textbook author Kenneth Miller speak on evolution and religion. The forum was sponsored by Fort Hays State University's Science Cafe.

A self-described devout Roman Catholic, Miller accepts Darwinian evolution as fact, including what fundamentalists call macro-evolution -- the process by which different species originate. Miller sees no conflict with religion, and wonders aloud why any reasonable person would.

After the lecture, Miller invited questions and comments. Pressed to explain how he reconciles religion with science, Miller said he envisions reality as two concentric spheres -- an inner one where rational science prevails, and an outer one from which the inner originates. Miller believes God created the inner sphere, which exists at God's pleasure. That sounds like Deism to me. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and other Enlightenment rationalists among our founders would nod approvingly.

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By Danielle Lee on July 22, 2010

I love soda.  That should be no such a big surprise if you saw my previous post where I admitted to loving junk food.  I love science.  And you know I loves Science Blogging.  But if I had known my little affair of junk food and science and social media would end up in the mess now regarded as #PepsiGate/#SbFail, I would have shunned the tasty but not-so-healthy beverage long ago.  You see, Cola has shattered my science blogging world.

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By Danielle Lee on June 24, 2010

Do I Have What it Takes to be a Nerd Girl? Probably not.

I am a Nerd and I a Girl. I love Science and believe in STEM outreach to under-served audiences by Many Means Necessary. I came across a blog post by USA Science & Engineering Festival that asked the question: “Do You Have What it Takes to be a Nerd Girl?”, and my initial reaction was I sure do. Nerd Girls is an engineering outreach program for girls and young women. Pretty sweet, huh? There’s a television show upcoming and this is the casting call for video auditions.

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By Bob Hooper on April 25, 2010

Pontius Pilate asked, "What is truth?" It is always a good question.

For several columns, I have done my journalistic best to explain that climate scientists overwhelmingly agree: Our planet is warming. Humans are mostly to blame. We would be wise to take that seriously.

I have explored motivations of those advancing a different view: the fossil fuels industry, and those who oppose all government regulation as anti-capitalist. In short, those who want to privatize the profits and socialize the costs. It's an old story.

We know about the campaigns of the tobacco industry. Two more recent issues are whether cell phones can cause brain tumors, and whether high fructose corn syrup is a bigger factor than sugar in Type II diabetes. Both products are profitable--at least in the short term, by the short view, for those who sell them. Independent research will predictably be opposed by manufacturers and distributors--just as climate change science is fought today. Money talks.

But there's also a brand of religion which sees science more as a threat to comfortable dogma than an ally in facing sometimes uncomfortable truths.

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By Danielle Lee on March 18, 2010

Whenever a news source or blog community claims to be a go-to source of information for African-American audiences, I take a quick look at the tabs or regular feature titles and I always find one major subject area lacking: Science.

To be fair, science coverage across all media outlets has been severely cut back. However, long before the threat of extinction of print media, Black Newspapers and Magazines didn't have much to offer in the area of science coverage. And when online media became more popular, the trend didn't change. Where's the science? Other than the occasional Black health update and the annual Black History Month profile articles, Black periodicals do not feature science news. The lone exception is if the article has a Black angle, in other words, if the article can be tied directly to issues that identify with the African-American community, such as disparity statistics or African-American firsts.

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By Ken Poland on March 10, 2010

I received email discussing: Words have meanings and politicians who want to control your life know that. The text of the message addressed the fact that the switch from using “global warming” to “climate change” was not a coincidence. Well, Duh! Words were invented because sign language was rather limiting in carrying on a conversation.The switch from using “global warming” to “climate change” was not a coincidence. Whether you call it ‘global warming’, ‘climate change’, ‘environmental activism’, ’smog’, or whatever else you think of is not the issue that needs to be addressed?

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By Bob Hooper on March 10, 2010

"Spurred by a warming climate, daily record high temperatures occurred twice as often as record lows over the last decade across the continental United States, new research shows. The ratio of record highs to lows is likely to increase dramatically in coming decades if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to climb." -- National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder CO. Nov. 12, 2009

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By Bob Hooper on February 22, 2010

"Expert bashing... is another distinguishing mark of junk thought, and the effectiveness of the technique depends on the public's inability to distinguish among good science, bad science, and pseudo-science. Scientific evidence, however overwhelming, is dismissed by the expert-bashers as politically biased. ... The scientific consensus on global warming is a favorite target of right-wing purveyors of junk thought." -- Susan Jacoby, in The Age of American Unreason

Susan Jacoby's national best-seller should be required reading -- especially for all those who believe mostly what they like to hear and confuse that with rationality. Most Americans are too distracted -- or too lazy -- to put intellectual sweat into serious reading or research. They're easy prey for junk.

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