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Google’s war on content

The internet is a big place. How big? Well, it depends on what you’re counting and when (because the numbers change so quickly) but by some measures the internet contains over a trillion gigabytes of information, 500 million websites and 15 trillion web pages. That’s a lot of information. And for us mere humans, it’s impossible to accumulate let alone sort through this kind of bulk without some very cleverly…

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Doing science communication right

In mid-November, the National Academy of Sciences hosted its latest Keck Futures Initiative conference—a periodic meeting of scholars from across the science spectrum (with funding support from the WM Keck Foundation). The purpose of these meetings is to break down barriers, create an impetus for greater collaboration, and stimulate discovery through the pursuit of bold, new ideas. This is science communication done right. I was privileged to take part in…

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Allitt’s ‘A Climate of Crisis’ stirs debate

Emory University history professor Patrick Allitt is touring the country promoting his new book, “A Climate of Crisis.” It’s an interesting account of how our public debates about science can sometimes become—as this Wall Street Journal book review puts it—”less an informed exchange of ideas than a strident debate pitting alarmists against deniers.” Click here to read this synopsis of Dr. Allitt’s argument, published by the Seattle Times as an…

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What do you mean by ‘STEM’?

It’s been about 20 years since the term STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) was first introduced by the National Science Foundation. The original goal was to consolidate and promote the concerns of various interest groups all seeking better technical education and literacy. Today, STEM programs are everywhere, but their definitions and goals have morphed and their impacts have been difficult to assess. For one, STEM is defined differently by…

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Kristof’s good start

Kudos to Nicholas Kristof for highlighting an important issue in science much more effectively (or at least visibly) than we’ve been able to do so far. Kristof’s February 15th piece in the New York Times (“Professors, We Need You!”) opined about how academia has increasingly insulated itself from the rest of the world by virtue of (in at least some cases) obtuse research written in turgid prose hidden in obscure…

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The Economist broadsides science

The October 19th issue of The Economist carried two withering broadsides of science research. The authors cited problems with peer review, statistical analysis, and replicability in science: How science goes wrong Trouble at the lab The problem? Apart from the obvious bias of these articles and the hundreds of comments from incensed readers who agreed wholeheartedly with these perspectives, the issues being flogged in these articles are not news. Science…

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Bioprinting and Immortality

© 2015 CBS Studios Inc The news in the New York Times this week was subdued: organ printing isn’t happening any time soon. There are evidently lots of technical challenges ahead. In the meantime, however, promising new technologies are being developed and fascinating experiments are underway aimed at producing “simple” biomaterials like cartilage—the “low hanging fruit” of the bioprinting world. So should we still be excited? Absolutely. The news that…

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Supersize science

Science has a branding problem. What does this mean and why should we care? Let’s start with a definition. In corporate America, brands are the bedrock of business. McDonald’s might not make the best hamburgers in the universe (personally I love them) but their brand is rock solid. Want a hamburger? McDonald’s. On a road trip and need to stop somewhere? McDonald’s. Happy Meal? McDonald’s. How does a company achieve…

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