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We need to talk about TED

Photo by James Duncan Davidson/TED In our culture, talking about the future is sometimes a polite way of saying things about the present that would otherwise be rude or risky. But have you ever wondered why so little of the future promised in TED talks actually happens? So much potential and enthusiasm, and so little actual change. Are the ideas wrong? Or is the idea about what ideas can do…

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NASA | Earthrise: The 45th Anniversary

NASA has released a new video commemorating the 45th anniversary of the historic “earthrise” photo taken by Apollo 8 astronauts in December 1968. In addition to showing the behind the scenes story of this photo, NASA also (maybe inadvertently) illustrates the case here for why manned exploration is so important: discovery rarely happens on script.…

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OA passes early adopter stage in 2013

Rogers Everett Was this the year open access for science reached critical mass? One hypothesis suggests that a transformative group needs to reach one-third to be prominent and persisting. Rogers’ theory on the diffusion of innovations that will eventually reach saturation level says the first 2.5% are innovators. By the time you get to 16% the phase of early adopters could be ending. If that’s the trajectory that accessible scientific…

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Is Canada destroying its science libraries?

Scientists say the closure of some of the world’s finest fishery, ocean and environmental libraries by the Harper government has been so chaotic that irreplaceable collections of intellectual capital built by Canadian taxpayers for future generations has been lost forever. Many collections such as the Maurice Lamontagne Institute Library in Mont-Joli, Québec ended up in dumpsters while others such as Winnipeg’s historic Freshwater Institute library were scavenged by citizens, scientists…

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Is open access the right path?

A new Q&A in a series exploring the current state of Open Access has been published. This one is with Robin Osborne, Professor of Ancient History at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of the British Academy. Earlier this year Osborne published an essay questioning one of the basic premises of the OA movement — that research funded by the taxpayer should be freely available to all. To claim…

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Politics and special interests trump science in regulating risk

A survey of three professional societies, each focused on risk assessment, reveals that science is being pushed aside by politics and environmental advocacy when it comes to protecting the public from the risks of chemicals. When asked to weigh the most important factor that should go into managing risk, the scientists overwhelmingly said science (98 percent). But when asked to weigh the factors that do influence risk management, science trailed…

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Senator Coburn strikes again

It’s as predictable as a curse word in a Bob Saget comedy routine. Periodically, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn puts out a review of the government projects that he and his staff have designated as wasteful government spending. And each time, his list includes a number of research grants that he thinks are preposterous. Silly. Emblematic of a Washington that is severely out of touch with the American people. In these…

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Scientists losing data at a rapid rate

In their parents’ attic, in boxes in the garage, or stored on now-defunct floppy disks — these are just some of the inaccessible places in which scientists have admitted to keeping their old research data. Such practices mean that data are being lost to science at a rapid rate, a study has now found. The authors of the study, which is published today in Current Biology1, looked for the data…

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