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August 21 2012


April 12 2012


‘Hypothesis generator’ helps mine huge datasets

A tool created through a collaboration with Harvard and MIT could soon help journalists find relationships in massive amounts of data — even if they don’t know what they’re looking for. Read More »
Sponsored post

October 07 2011


Richard Feynman on Beauty, Honors, and Curiosity

The art of uncertainty, why awards are the wrong pursuit, and how to find wonder in truth.

On the heels of yesterday’s children’s book on science by Richard Dawkins and Wednesday’s testament to remix culture comes an ingenious intersection of the two — an inspired effort to promote science education and scientific literacy amongst the general public by way of a remix gem. Canadian filmmaker Reid Gower, who has previously delighted us with some Carl Sagan gold, has created a trilogy of magnificent mashups using the words of iconic physicist Richard Feynman, culled from various BBC, NASA, and other notable footage, to convey the power, wonder, and whimsy of science. Dubbed the Feynman Series, it’s a continuation of the brilliant Sagan Series.

Beauty does away with the common myth that scientists are unable to truly appreciate beauty in nature as Feynman explains what a scientist actually is and does.

I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. [...] I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose.”

Honours peels away at the pretense of awards as false horsemen of gratification.

I don’t see that it makes any point that someone in the Swedish academy just decides that this work is noble enough to receive a prize — I’ve already gotten the prize. The prize is the pleasure of finding a thing out, the kick in the discovery, the observation that other people use it — those are the real things. The honors are unreal to me. I don’t believe in honors.”

Curiosity is Feynman’s lament for simplicity, which gets lost in our ceaseless hunger for sensationalism.

[The Big Bang] is a much more exciting story to many people than the tales which other people used to make up, when wondering about the universe we lived in on the back of a turtle or something like that. They were wonderful stories, but the truth is so much more remarkable. And, so, what’s the wonder in physics to me is that it’s revealed the truth is so remarkable.”

For more on Feynman’s legacy and genius, look no further than Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher.

via Open Culture

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September 22 2010


26 Organizations Recognized on 2010 Top-Rated SciTech Nonprofits List

GreatNonprofits recently announced that 26 organizations working in the science and technology fields have qualified for the 2010 Top-Rated Science & Technology Nonprofits List, based on user reviews submitted during a national campaign in August.

read more

September 03 2010


Science Journalism Fellows – Vyavahare

The Science Journalism Fellows program connected scientists with journalists from across South Carolina to exchange viewpoints on the ethics and science of stem cells.
Video Rating: 0 / 5

Panelists discuss how the decline of the newspaper industry will affect the loons and shut-ins who rely on newspapers for stacking around their ramshackle homes.

August 06 2010


July 01 2010


Gimpyblog: A question of embargoes and science journalism

Embargoes on abstracts and publications from scientific conferences, in this case:

Journalists might not see the fuss here but scientific conferences are usually considered private events with great care taken over the ownership of data and the willingness of researchers to release it prior to publication.  Conference abstracts are often useful as they allow different groups of researchers to see if anyone in their field is following the same lines of enquiry as them so collaborations can be arranged, if these were to retreat behind security measures then it would make things a little bit more difficult for everybody.

Gimpyblog begins this debate of the purpose and sanctity of embargoes in journalism following accusations of embargo breaking against Sunday Times journalist Jonathan Leake – and posts defending his actions. You can read the back story here on Roy Greenslade’s blog, but it’s worth reading the comments on Gimpyblog’s post about the role of embargoes in science journalism and beyond.

Full post at this link…Similar Posts:

March 29 2010


Blogging 101 for science and health researchers

On Friday, I gave a presentation to science and health researchers at UBC about blogging. The purpose was to discuss how blogs could help them share their research and engage with others interested in the same areas.

Among the examples I cited as different approaches to blogging were Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science, BBC environment correspondent Richard Black’s Earthwatch, the Knight Science Journalism Tracker, and the Neuroethics at the Core group blog at UBC.

My five tips for successful blogging:

  • Have a focus
  • Offer a critical perspective
  • Create value for your audience
  • Engage with the community
  • Make it personal

March 25 2010


Complaint to PCC raises further criticism of Sunday Times’ environment coverage

According to a report in the Guardian yesterday, Simon Lewis, an expert on tropical on forests at the University of Leeds, has filed a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) about an article in the Sunday Times.

The article published on 31 January, which alleged that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had made mistakes in a report on global warming, was “inaccurate, misleading and distorted”, according to Lewis, who says he contacted the newspaper before the story was published and has since written letters and tried to leave comments on the website.

Questions have been raised by several bloggers over the Sunday Times’ environmental coverage – particularly following reports that the title had been banned from receive pre-publication releases from some scientific journals for breaking embargoes.

The article at the heart of Lewis’ complaint and those that resulted in bans for the Sunday Times from PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) and JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) were written by Jonathan Leake, who recently responded on blog Embargo Watch, saying he was unconcerned about the bans:

As you can see, these press officers have claimed they have banned us from their embargo system but this is rather misleading because we have a policy of not signing up to these embargo systems. Since we are not part of them we can hardly be banned. The press officers in question do know our position and I would suggest their statements are knowingly misleading.

Similar Posts:

March 18 2010


March 17 2010


The Uniqueness of Humans

Robert Sapolsky  – one of the world’s leading neurobiologists, a MacArthur Fellow, Stanford professor, and author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers — breaks down an intriguing question. Precisely in what ways are we (humans) different from other animals inhabiting our world? The differences are less than we think. But there are some, and they’ll make you sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes a little more confident in humanity, and sometimes motivated to change the world, even in these cynical times. The inspiration happens during the last minute. So stay with this engaging talk until the very last.

via TED’s Best of the Web

The Uniqueness of Humans is a post from: Open Culture. Visit us at www.openculture.com

Share: Facebook Twitthis StumbleUpon del.icio.us Google Bookmarks Reddit LinkedIn RSS E-mail this story to a friend!

Related posts:

  1. Sapolsky Breaks Down Depression
  2. Funny, Fascinating, Educational Lecture on Primate Sexuality
  3. The Art of Trashing the Classics

February 04 2010




Since October 2009, The Times of London is publishing EUREKA.

It’s a monthly magazine that excels in editorial quality, brilliant graphics and topics that attract young readers:

Science. Life. The Planet.

Watch here a video about the magazine.

Today’s one has 60 pages (11 with ads).

Editorial products of this kind show the way to make your paper compelling, relevant and necessary for a high quality audience.

So, less garbage promotions and more real meaningful content.

Good journalism is a good business!

January 30 2010


January 14 2010


8 Lessons Journalists Can Learn From Scientists

The ScienceOnline10 conference starts this Thursday, and about 275 scientists, educators and science writers from around the world will gather near Raleigh, N.C. to discuss many of the same online tools and issues that journalists are examining.

Sessions will focus on topics like "citizen scientists," crowdsourcing, and the best iPhone apps for gathering and sharing information. The conference is sold out, but plenty of ways exist to attend ScienceOnline10 virtually.


For journalists, the biggest name at the conference is Anil Dash, a pioneering blogger and one of the founders of Six Apart. He's the creator of Expert Labs, an organization designed to help connect experts with government, and will talk Saturday afternoon about Government 2.0.

The conference and its participants have many lessons for journalists, and many participants also have long histories of successful experimentation and community building. The conference has had heavy support from members of ScienceBlogs, a network of 138 science bloggers that recently announced a new partnership with National Geographic. Members of the group began experimenting with reverse publishing to print from blogs way back in 2006 with "The Science Blogging Anthology." The anthology has been published every year since the first edition went from concept to print in about a month to coincide with the inaugural Science Bloggers Conference in early 2007.

The network of bloggers that launched this conference, in turn, grew out of BlogTogether, a community of N.C. bloggers and online communicators active since at least 2005. These scientists, educators and communicators have been tackling many of the same issues that have become critical for the media industry during the last couple of years. Their experiments and successes are worth examination. Here are eight lessons that journalists can learn from the convention and its supporters.

1. Civility matters.

One session at the conference will tackle hard questions about online civility and debate, and why it matters. The session is led by Janet Stemwedel, Sheril Kirshenbaum and "Dr. Isis," a physiologist at a major research university who blogs but fiercely guards her real identity. Discussion and links are available at the conference wiki.

2. Diversity is worth tackling.

Sessions at the conference, which is being held just before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, will include diversity in science and technology, reaching out to underrepresented individuals in science, and figuring out a way to reach across generations.

3. Real relationships sustain online relationships.

This conference was born as a result of relationships built through BlogTogether.org, an early, active group of bloggers loosely based in North Carolina's Research Triangle area, and in Greensboro, N.C. Conferences created by the group have brought in champions of citizen voices such as Dan Gillmor, and have attracted support from traditional media executives like editor John Robinson of the Greensboro News and Record. An early national conference started by the group, ConvergeSouth, was the brainchild of blogger Sue Polinsky. At this conference, one session, The Importance of Meatspace, will explore the power of real-world connections.

4. Niches work.

Science bloggers, by definition, target relatively small audiences. Cognitive Daily, for example, focuses on peer-reviewed developments in cognition psychology, which could be considered a niche of a niche of a niche. The blog's "About" page says, "The research isn't dumbed down, but it's explained in language that everyone can understand, with clear illustrations and references to the original research." The blog, produced by a husband and wife duo, Dave and Greta Munger of Davidson, N.C., does seek levity. There are "Casual Friday" posts that deal with subjects like the use of curse words, annoying online restaurant menus, and emoticons. It has been consistently publishing since at least January 2005.

5. The discussion of pros vs. amateurs isn't over.

In science, as with journalism, the role of scientists (or journalists) is still evolving. What exactly is a "citizen scientist"? How do they differ from the pros, and aren't the pros "citizens" as well? How do science or journalism bloggers fit within the information ecosystem and, thanks to the explosion of content, whom do you trust? Where does government fit? One session at the conference will deal with citizen scientists, and longtime blogger and conference organizer Bora Zivkovic also has a roundup of the sessions focused on journalism. For further reading, check out Dan Schultz's Idea Lab post outlining what journalists can learn from citizen scientists.

6. Can people document while they participate?

Three people involved with the great Pacific garbage patch research effort and its related media coverage will discuss the melding of real-time science, non-profit advocacy, outreach and journalism in a session, Talking Trash - Online Outreach from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Can someone participate in research and still report that research? Can someone be an advocate and still produce trusted information? How will society fund journalism that covers specific research? And did funding from the innovative Spot.Us project work well as a way to publish a story in the New York Times about the garbage patch? As a related issue, how can information about research reach ordinary people?

7. Networks and trust are crucial.

Links, blogrolls, citations of sources, guest blogging, and the older technique of "blogging carnivals" build trust and develop networks that pay off. Trust, reputation and "personal brands" remain crucial components in the search for information, and those elements help readers filter the deluge of data and information. The thriving ScienceBlogs site shows the power of branding and networking. But a flip side exists: How can laypeople learn critical thinking and use skeptical questioning to better evaluate sources and information? Two conference sessions deal specifically with trust: How does a journalist figure out which scientists to trust, and Trust and critical thinking.

8. Experimentation and transparency pay off.

You might expect a group of scientists to embrace experimentation. But this group in particular explores new ways of sharing information transparently, opening the process to people in other fields and locations. A concrete example: The reverse publishing of science bloggers' posts required an element of financial risk in order to share information with a wider audience. Organizers are also using the conference wiki and social media tools like Flickr, Second Life, Twitter and Facebook to promote and share the conference in a broad way. Specific sessions deal with Open Notebook Science, and the Open Dinosaur Project, an effort to crowdsource the digitization of data.

Andria Krewson is a freelance journalist and consultant from Charlotte, N.C. She has worked at newspapers for 27 years, focusing on design and editing of community niche publications. She blogs for her neighborhood at Under Oak and covers changing culture at Crossroads Charlotte. Twitter: underoak

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