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Jan212011

More Science Highlights


Scientists Lead a Second Life
Is what is missing about physical presence relevant at all to making scientific recommendations? In my experience, it is not.”
-Douglas Fisher, computer scientist, Vanderbilt University

Scientific organizations such as the NSF and the NIH bring thousands of people together every year to review grant proposals and to decide who should get barrels of money and who should cry themselves to sleep. But the cost of flights, hotels, deli sandwiches, coffee (lots of coffee), and honoraria for those people adds up to quickly, and the carbon footprint grows a few sizes larger every year. What if scientists instead met virtually? What if they hung out in the online world Second Life and discussed whether a proposal’s methods controlled for the correct variables? What if there were no dinners out after deciding to give some scientists $3,000,000?

No Money, Mo’ Problems (for the Higgs Boson, at least)
I think we presented a very good science case for continuing to run, but the fiscal realities just don't allow us to go forward.”
--Rob Roser, Fermilab

Fermilab, the Department of Energy’s high-energy particle physics lab, will be closing the doors on its beloved twenty-four-year-old atom-smasher, the Tevatron, in September. The Tevatron (or the people who run it) had hoped to discover the Higgs boson before the Europeans (CERN! LHC!) and become super-famous in textbooks and our hearts forever. However, upon asking the DoE for the money to keep up the search, the Tevatron was denied. Poor Tevatron.
God, particle, why won’t you just show up!(Get it?)

Scaling up
As an “educator” and “communicator,” I’m always looking for ways to relate huge numbers, huge sizes, and huge distances to people’s experiences and intuitions. This video does a great job of showing the scale of different celestial objects, starting with something whose size you can grasp and moving up to the biggest known star (which, I calculated, has a BMI of 1.4x10^10) and then making you feel very small and short and unimportant, like seventh grade.


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July 24, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterarjun

nice post..

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